Primoz Roglic doesn’t need computers (or water)
A time trial is, hardly unsurprisingly, a story of time. Tactics and team-mates become irrelevant. The clock is all. At least that’s normally the case. In Chianti country on stage nine, the weather also played a part.
Tom Dumoulin’s verdict was: “It was shit, I had no chance and I didn’t take any risks.” What he was referring to was the rain. Riders set off in reverse general classification order with the leaders last and while half the field got to race in dry weather, it pissed it down for those at the pointy end of the race.
Remember junior world ski jumping champion, Primoz Roglic? He finished one hundredth of a second behind Dumoulin in the opening time trial. Benefiting from dry roads, he did slightly better here. “After about 10 kilometres I lost my computer and my water bottle,” he said afterwards – without explaining how.
The Slovenian is 127th overall after not racing with any real seriousness on the other stages, but his debut Grand Tour has nevertheless been a promising one. Before this, the longest time trial he’d ever done was 10km.
Behind him, the favourites skittered about in the wet and most – Dumoulin, Nibali, Landa, Kruisjwik, Valverde, Majka, Hesjedal – finished two or three minutes down.
The exceptions were impeccably-named Luxembourger, Bob Jungels, and Andrey Amador – something of an oddity in pro cycling as he’s from Costa Rica. They moved up to second and third overall respectively. Amador finished 10th on the day, 1m19s down and Jungels would surely have won given dry roads. He was 45 seconds down and sixth on the day.
Then there were the disasters. Rigoberto Uran, who would have been confident of gaining time on his rivals, crashed and finished 4m12s behind Roglic. Ilnur Zakarin crashed twice and was 3m51s down. As far as I’m aware, Domenico Pozzovivo didn’t crash at all, but was still 3m39s down while Esteban Chaves managed to do even worse than that, finishing 3m48s down.
Gianluca Brambilla is still in the maglia rosa. Just. Bob Jungels is positively pawing at it, a single second behind. He’s a team-mate as well which should permit him even greater access. For all I know, they’re sharing a room.
Rest day today, but Tuesday’s stage has the potential to get very messy indeed. With the road going either up or down all day, there’ll be no drifting along in the peloton and this means we could see lots of smaller groups rather than one big one. Throw in the 219km distance and this is a true test of endurance.
Then there’s the finish. The first category climb of Pian di Falco tops out with 16km to go. It’s basically a 4km climb, an 8km false flat and then a harder 4km climb. It’s not cartoonishly difficult, but after a tough preamble, it’s enough.
But that’s not the end of it. The steep descent turns into a steep and narrow descent and they then have a 7km, 5% climb to the line.
All in all, it’s a tough day of suffering. Seems like a day when Ryder Hesjedal might remind us he’s in the race.