Richard Carapaz at altitude, Primoz Roglic on the wrong bike – a recap of stages 10-15 of the 2019 Giro d’Italia
- The main contenders for this year’s Giro d’Italia
- A recap of stages 1-9
- A recap of stages 10-15
- A recap of stages 16-21
That should probably more accurately read ‘a recap of stages 12-15 of the 2019 Giro d’Italia.
Here’s my recap of stages 10 and 11: nothing happened.
Let’s start at the end. Here’s where the overall contenders stand after the middle week of racing.
Now let’s try and work out how we got here.
The week began in a fog with all sorts of non-contenders clogging up the top ten. (Nans Peters was third overall. I’ve never heard of Nans Peters. No-one’s heard of Nans Peters. Nans Peters has never won a race.)
After a bit of filtering, the situation was essentially that Primoz Roglic was 1m40s up on Vincenzo Nibali and a great deal more ahead of most of the other contenders.
Richard Carapaz – the Ecuadorian rider who is now leading the race – was in 20th place, three minutes behind Roglic. So what in balls happened there?
What in balls happened on Stage 12?
Nothing of direct relevance to Carapaz, but a hint of things to come.
Vincenzo Nibali is fed up with Primoz Roglic. He says he never talks to him – which certainly rings true as Roglic does seem to be a man of few words. Nibali’s main gripe, however, is that the Slovenian just follows him around the whole time, refusing to do any work (and as we know, it’s easier to ride behind someone else).
Nibali went on to say that if he wanted to, Roglic could follow him all the way back to his house and he’d show him all of his trophies – a comment that is equal parts funny and childish.
Anyway, the relationship between these two men is shaping the race because they have not, thus far, paid all that much attention to anyone else.
This means that when Miguel Angel Lopez and Mikel Landa attacked on what was really the first proper tough climb of the race, they were pretty much allowed to go. The two of them gained 28 seconds on a 10-rider group that was basically all the other overall contenders minus Bob Jungels and Tao Geoghegan Hart.
Jungels is not enjoying the mountains and is now out of contention. Geoghegan Hart had promised to follow a similar path, but then took a slightly different one by crashing out on a descent on stage 13.
What in balls happened on Stage 13?
In the Pine Barrens episode of The Sopranos, Christopher and Paulie take a Russian mobster to the woods, hand him a shovel, and order him to dig his own grave.
It’s extremely cold and the Russian is wearing pyjamas.
“You think the cold bothers me?” he says. “I wash my balls with ice water.”
I thought of this as I watched Ilnur Zakarin ride to the race’s first summit finish with great banks of snow either side of him, his jersey fully unzipped and flapping in the icy wind.
At the start of the stage Zakarin had been three minutes behind and he wasn’t in contention. So Roglic and Nibali let him get in the break and he won the stage and gained three minutes. He moved up to third overall, but then lost four minutes the next day, so I guess their decision was vindicated.
Bauke Mollema did a toned-down version of the same thing but then didn’t lose four minutes, which is how he finds himself in sixth place.
Back in the group of favourites, it was Mikel Landa’s turn to ride away from everyone. He gained 1m40s seconds on Roglic and Nibali, which is no small thing on one climb.
His team-mate Carapaz copied and finished 20 seconds later. Rafal Majka followed and gained a minute on The Big Two.
What in balls happened on Stage 14?
Stage 14 was Carapaz day. He gained the same amount of time as the day before but did so via a stage win.
It was an increasingly familiar story. Carapaz went, no-one followed and he gained a load of time. The Ecuadorian probably is faster than anyone else uphill at the minute, but it’s also true that they’ve not been dead bothered about following him up until now.
Simon Yates also finished ahead of our inseparable duo and clawed back 30 seconds. He did something similar on Stage 15 too. The situation for Yates is that he’s so far behind that no-one cares. If he can keep at it, maybe they will care, but that’s still a little way off at the minute.
What in balls happened on Stage 15?
The main thing that happened on Stage 15 was an almighty fuck-up with a Primoz Roglic bike change.
In the closing stages, Roglic got his chain stuck, which is a thing that happens every now and again in the course of several thousand kilometres of cycling. Unfortunately, this happened while the occupants of his team car had stopped to take a slash.
With no spare bike to hand, Roglic took one off a team-mate and started racing to catch up with the favourites group. He did okay on the climb but wrapped himself round a roadside barrier on the descent. (Just imagine trying to corner downhill as fast as you can on a bike you’ve never ridden before and you’ll understand how this can happen.)
Roglic got a replacement bike eventually, but the damage was done. He lost 40s to Nibali and Carapaz and a little less to a handful of the others.
Where does that leave us?
Carapaz is great in the mountains, but won’t be given any more leeway and is weaker in the time trial.
Roglic is being patient in the mountains but has shed time to several people. He may be tiring, he may be preserving what he has, confident he can smash everyone in the final time trial.
Nibali is poised.
Everyone else is making opportunistic mountain attacks and one of them could prove crucial.
The final week
Tuesday – mountain stage with a huge volume of climbing
Wednesday – uphill finish
Thursday – almost a downhill stage, which should be fairly uneventful
Friday – hilly-to-mountainous with a steady summit finish
Saturday – mountain stage with a summit finish
Sunday – a 17km time trial over a hill
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