Madonna Di Campiglio - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Alberto Contador (Tinkoff - Saxo)   pictured during  Giro d'Italia 2015 - stage-15 - from  Marostica to Madonna Di Campiglio - photo IB/LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2015
  • Discussion thread #1: Stage 10 was supposed to be a routine sprint stage but became much more than that. Was it the turning point in the 2015 Giro?

    • Dave

      It just goes to show that the Giro d’Italia tests the complete rider. The same one dimensional pedalling machines who have done well at the Tour de France (including some who’ve won it) get chewed up and spat out by the Giro, while riders with less climbing prowess but more courage and skill can get the upper hand.

      Having said that, the 2014 edition of the Tour showed improvements in the more interesting first week (which rejected Froome as unworthy) and there will hopefully be a similar effect this year.

    • Paolo

      I’m with Juan Antonio Flecha on this one, it was a great display of friendship. Clarke wouldn’t have given his wheel to Contador. Sportsmanship would have been if Aru/Contador would have slowed down the peloton to let Porte get back on. Stupid application of the rule nonetheless, but friendship yes, sportsmanship no.

  • Discussion thread #2: How did you read Porte and Sky’s handling of #Wheelgate?

    • Michele

      Porte: well

      Team Sky [management]: come un buch di backyarders

      • Dave

        UKPostal only takes one race seriously – the Tour de France.

        Approach the Giro like it’s an easier race and you’ll fall apart at the seams.

    • Whippet

      Porte handled it much better than many of the fans. There is a bit of hypocrisy in whinging about consistent application of rules whilst calling for them to be waived in this instance.

      • Michele

        I agree that Porte did handled it better than some fans: there was much hysteria by some fans and mainstream media. Personally, Porte needed to be penalised.

        That said, highlighting the fact that there is no consistency in the applying of the rulebook does not equate to hypocrisy [at least by the person highlighting the fact].

        2 examples; both 2015 Paris-Roubiax [level crossing] and 2014 Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne [the successful 9 man break away rode on the cycle paths / foot paths] were compromised races.

        I can’t recall anyone saying “these rules must be adhered to … but Richie should not be penalised”. That’s hypocrisy.

        I’ve read many comments along the lines of “the application of these rules [see 2 examples above] as so inconsistent, they shouldn’t penalise Richie”. That’s not hypocrisy; that’s called reasoning.

        • Andrew

          While I feel that some time punishment is reasonable for this instance, 2 minutes is a crippling. I think the message to teams and riders could have been easily sent with a more reasonable figure. 30seconds – 1 minute would still give GC riders a chance to remain competitive throughout the race. 2 minutes is too much in this new era of cycling where races are won by mere seconds.

          • Michele

            The rule book says penalty is 2 minutes – and I believe this is “fixed” for a first offence.

            • Whippet

              Hi Michele,

              I reckon I wasn’t clear when I used the term hypocrisy. But here and other places people have commented about inconsistent application of rules, and then go on to state that Porte’s infraction should have been ignored or at least the penalty not enforced. See above for a partial example. Stating that rules need to be enforced but not when it is detrimental to me is hypocrisy.

    • timf

      The big question is why the Paris Roubaix incident wasn’t called #boomgategate ?

      • jules

        was Lars Boom involved? then it could have been #Boomboomgategate

        • timf

          Too quick for me Jules…

      • timf

        …and why Lars Boom didn’t get involved so we could call it #boomboomgategate

  • Discussion thread #3: Steven Kruijswijk has caught our eye over the past two weeks of racing. Who else have you been impressed by, beyond the big GC contenders?

    • Michele

      Steven Kruijswijk – is my ‘man of the match’ for the Giro thus far.

      Love how he just smashes that big gear.

    • Chris

      Astana – proving the doubters wrong by having the whole team dominate on the front just like USP used to.

      • Chris

        Bummer. Could this be deleted from this thread? I swear I clicked on discussion thread 6…

    • Whippet

      Amador may be on his way to a podium finish in a grand tour for the first time.

    • As you mention, Betancur. Perhaps his non race regime has problems, but he’s got full-marks for gaining race fitness. I hope he can unleash at the TdF – that might be his strategy in going so hard in Italy

  • Discussion thread #4: Does Leo König have a chance of improving on his fifth place in the GC?

    • Whippet

      Only if Amador or Landa cracks.

    • haitch

      Amador isn’t really one for the big/steep mountains, I think he’ll fall away this week. So, yes.

      • Whippet

        You might be right haitch, but he climbed better than many grimpeurs last night.

      • Dave

        I think he’s still a viable contender for a podium.

        Remember that this is the Giro, where courage and skills can account for a slight lack of climbing prowess. It’s not the Tour de France which is more formulaic and rewards the one-dimensional pedalling machines.

    • Paolo

      Question is more like if he will be Sky’s No.2 GT man after Froome and Porte ride in support of Koenig next year.

  • Discussion thread #5: What do you make of Richie Porte’s race? Mostly bad luck? Or more to it than that?

    • Michele

      I now do wonder if he’s mentally strong enough for a 3 week race.

      I did think the same thing about Evans after 2009 and 2010 TdF; so It’s possible Porte can turn this around.

      • Dave

        I don’t think that’s a fair comparison, Evans had plenty of history up to then which showed that he was a viable contender in a GT (five top ten finishes including a pair of second places) and what we were wondering was whether he’d ever go just one place better.

        In those “bad” years he won a Vuelta podium, won the World Championship Road Race, got a Giro top five, won the Giro points jersey and wore the leader’s jersey in all three GTs. 99% of WorldTour cyclists would love to have a career peak being anywhere near that good – a bit like the article I read the other day which showed the statistical lowlight of Sir Donald Bradman’s career (through the Bodyline series) still had him scoring 997 runs at an average of 71.2 in ten Tests.

        Sure, the 09-10 Tours de France were not his best with “only” results of 28th and 25th, but in both those races he fought on and made us proud to cheer him on.

        Porte is nothing like that, he comes across as wimpy and whiny. He doesn’t make me proud to be an Australian, he makes me want to mail him an application for British citizenship. If Porte is to ever succeed in any race longer than a week, the last thing he needs is to throw in the towel and pull out of the Giro in any manner other than being carried off the course in an ambulance.

        He needs to HTFU and finish the race, working for König and Viviani on most of the stages and perhaps selecting one where he can go in the breakaway and do something that would allow him to recover some personal pride. If he can get through the third week with pride, he’ll be so much stronger for it even if it means forgetting the Tour while he recovers physically and working up to the Vuelta instead.

        • Michele

          Couple of things …..

          I meant 2008 and 2009 [sorry for confusion]

          I didn’t say he had bad years. He didn’t perform at the TdF when “expected”. [See my post elsewhere for explanation of ‘losing’ 2009 TdF.]

          But in both those years Evans entered into the TdF as one of the top race favourites. He wore the no1 dossard in 2008.

          I would also suggest we can look back on history with some rose in our glasses. Evans didn’t exactly handle the media pressure as well as he perhaps could have. Employing LA’s security guard was also seen as a little odd.

          As a result, many were saying [at the time] that Evans was “wimpy and whiny”.

          And that’s even before mentioning the name Jurgen Van den Broeck.

          Bit hard on Porte. As Jules said: need to hear the full story before making such suggestions about Porte.

          BTW – the article you read the other day about Bradman is wrong.

          The bodyline series took place during the 1932-1933 Ashes series. It was a 5 test series [England won it 4-1].

          In those 5 test matches Bradman averaged “just” 56.57.

          I hope Porte can make you feel proud to be Australian again. Whatever that means.

          • Dave

            I guess we’ll never know if this year’s Giro could have been as formative for the British team’s rider Porte as those 2008-09 Tours were for Evans, now that he has withdrawn citing non-specific injuries.

            The Bradman reference was correct – the analysis looked at streaks of ten Tests rather than a fixed number of Test series.

            • Michele

              Fair enough re: Bradman. Though I’d argue why look at a streak of 10 Tests, and not 9, or 11 or 14 for that matter.

              Still stands that the 11 test series Bradman played in, the 32-33 series was by far the worse.

              Re Porte. No issues with his pulling out.

      • bones

        It is ridiculously unfair to compare Evan’s performance to those who we now know were drug cheats. Do you honestly believe CSC in 2008 and Astana with Lance in 2009 were clean?

        • Michele

          Can I suggest you re-read my comment. Where have I compared Evans to drug cheats?

          I was simply referring to the way Evans handled the expectation from an Australian public and media who thought he should win post Lance’s [second of three] retirement.

          He didn’t handle it well.

          You show me where I made this ‘ridiculously unfair’ comparison ….

          As a COMPLETE aside .. yes, you’re right re: Lance. He was probably back on the juice in ’09. Although this hasn’t been proven categorically.

          And one could also be suspicious of CSC because of Frank Schleck, Ivan Basso, Tyler Hamilton etc. But does that mean Carlos Sastre is necessarily a doper?

          If you say guilty by association .. then you could use that same logic on Evans through his days at T-Mobile. Surely he would’ve learnt a trick of two there.

          I would suggest Evans is just a likely a doper as Sastre. What I wont say is whether I think Sastre doped.

    • Eddie Groves

      When Porte ‘blows’ I think it’s a mental injury more than a physical one.

    • Whippet

      Compare Porte and Contador. Both have had crashes and bad luck, but their results are quite different. I like Porte, and hope he learns from this.

      • Nath

        Comparing the two situations isn’t really helpful. Sure, you can say that both Porte and Contador lost time, both crashed, both carried injuries… but that is where the similarities end and the complexities start. How much time did each lose? How injured was each rider? How much has each injury effected performance. No answer to these questions will be “Exactly the same”. Depending on how serious Porte’s injury is, potentially the only thing he can learn from it is ‘don’t get injured’. If it is related to how he is processing things internally…than sure, let the learning begin.

        • Whippet

          Like you said, the both lost time, both crashed and both carried injuries. Moreover, they were both involved in the same incident on stage 13. Look at how the two reacted on that day, and how they carried on since. As Michele and Eddie Groves note, the comparison, whilst not ‘exact’, does make one wonder about the mentality of two riders. I hope Porte is strengthened by this adversity.

          • Michele

            Hi Whippert,

            In my defence :)

            I just want to clarify that I wonder if he’s mentally strong enough. Nothing more than that. I’m sure Sky with their phycologists etc, would be in a better position than me to determine if Porte could handle the heat.

            As Jules has rightfully said, we don’t know the full picture/story re injuries etc. Until we do, (if we ever do), then I think we are just speculating.

            I often think of Evans when he ‘lost’ the TdF to Sastre in 2008. Everyone expected/thought Evans would get the time back on Carlos in the penultimate stage ITT. He didn’t. Some wondered if he had the mental fortitude to win a GT. It was only later we learnt that Evans has pushed himself so far to his physical limits that he was urinating blood post ITT.

            • Tyler

              Some books of the past tell us there can be different reasons for urinating blood by a pro cyclist.

              • Conconi – The Original Master

                Yeah spot on …. Evans used a BB for a ITT, got sick by doing so [was probably someone else’s], and then told everyone about it by putting it in his autobiography thinking no one would be able add 1 and 1 and get 2.

                Evans wasn’t counting on Tyler cracking the code.

          • Nath

            Hey Whippet, I agree there are similarities, but the problem with direct comparison in this instance is that despite apparent similarities they really are chalk and cheese. Crashing ain’t crashing so to speak. A shoulder injury, for instance, can have a greater or lesser impact on performance than a knee or hip injury depending on it’s severity. And that is just one fairly obvious variable. The point I am trying to make is that you can’t reach a conclusion as to whether rider A or B is stronger or weaker mentally by a cursory comparison of a physical circumstance. The only logical question to ask is in regards to the physical elements, and if that was not a factor, by all means question mental fortitude, but not on the basis of what is known at this point. Or, less eloquently, don’t hold judgement till the facts are known. Either way, I also hope Porte is strengthened by the experience – no matter the reasons it has been a tough few weeks.

        • Steel

          Wish I didn’t have to log in to vote up.

          You’ve nailed it.

    • CC

      Ask Richie.

    • jules

      there’s nothing Porte could do about the wheel change penalty (once applied) and the time lost to his crash.

      people are starting to get on his back about his poor performances since then, but I’d want to wait for the facts before judging. for all we know his coach could have asked him to back it off, or he has an injury from the crash. lots of speculation though that I intend to take with a grain of salt.

    • haitch

      There’s not a lot he could do with the crash or the wheel change penalty.

      The naysayers are basing it on the way he struggled to chase back to the main bunch after the puncture, and I think they do have a point there because he didn’t make much headway even with team support. There does seem to be a fair few Sky fans and Brit journos who are spearchuckers for their favourites, though – as if Richie has taken Geirant Thomas’ rightful place as leader or something.

    • Cam

      Have to feel for the guy, the first 5 minutes lost was nothing but bad luck. Looked to be in great shape prior to that, most of the commentators were talking about the ease in which he was covering attacks.

    • BarkingOwl

      It’s been tough to watch – was looking forward to following the Giro with an Aussie contender. One can never know the extent of a persons injuries staring at the telly. You can’t compare Porte’s and Contador’s injuires – it’s apples and oranges. I would love to see the bloke get a clean run in a grand tour as leader and find out just how good he is.

    • MattF

      Wheelgate was completely avoidable – 1) If a teammate had been shadowing Porte at the time; and 2) If Porte, Clark and Porte’s teammate watching the illegal wheel change had a basic understanding of the rules of their sport. My point is – this was a pretty amateurish display by the the world’s best funded pro team. After the Stage 13 crash it took Team Sky an eternity to get Porte on a replacement bike and, when they did, it was far too big for him (Kiryienka’s ) – again amateurish. Contador was caught in the same crash but witness the Contador/Tosatto bike swap if you want to see professionalism and experience at work. Finally, it was clear that something physical was wrong with Porte after wheelgate when he was unable to hang onto the wheel of his teammates pacing him to the finish.

      • Dave

        Here’s one of the big issues, Sky is the UK equivalent of USPS in that they are a superstar team with a fan base unrivalled in the pro peleton – but they are also a team that only takes the Tour de France seriously.

        • Michele

          That’s rubbish Dave. They take the spring classics as seriously as any other team in the peloton.

          They’ve tried training at for them. They’ve looked closely at their training programmes, and they’ve publicly stated – on numerous occasions – that they have made winning a Momument a major objective.

          Sure, you can say that they’ve gone about trying to win one the wrong way. But to suggest they only take the TdF seriously is at best, a throw away line, at worse, a poor attempt in trying to compare SKY with US Postal.

          And that’s not taking into account the fact SKY have won a lot of one week races with Porte, Wiggins and Froome over the past 3 seasons. That’s not a bad effort considering they don’t take those races seriously either.

    • lefthandside

      Frankly I find some of the repeated barbs and snipes to be pretty distasteful, but I’m glad that Richie’s misfortune will give some smug satisfaction to those who never thought he would be successful. To criticise an injured rider who pulls out as being ‘un-australian’ (as if that term has any meaning) on the one hand while on the other arguing that we tend to rate Australian athletes as better than they actually are is a blatant contradiction. He’s a good rider, but is he capable of more? The true answer is ‘who knows?’ I hope he gets another shot. Certainly grand tour riding is a test of endurance and grit – kudos to Ryder Hesjedal for grinding his way maybe to a top 10 finish. Above all else, for me, the pressure cooker and lottery that is grand tour riding just demonstrates how remarkable Adam Hansen’s continued run is. It can all change in a touch of wheels.

    • jakub

      I think it is more of a mental thing after series of relatively bad luck and lack of action of his team in crucial moments (wheel change, crash). Obviously I don’t know the extent of his injuries, but on the photos from TT his knees didn’t seem to have suffered any blows. Taking into account that Contador crashed badly twice as well and carried on, I guess it is really a lack of mental strength. Moreover, this is not the first time when Contador didn’t give up in similar situations. Remember Tour 2011? If I recall correctly he crashed at least 3 times in the first week, his knees were badly scathed but still, he carried on even though it was evident that he was not 100% (and he was not even in the reach of yellow jersey). He tried to attack several times in the race, most notably on Alpe d’Huez (with no effect in the end). This sort of mental toughness probably makes the difference in such moments.

      • Whippet

        I agree, and said so above. While no analogy is perfect, this one is apt. I’m a fan of Porte. But, to directly answer the question posed for the thread, I speculate something more than bad luck led to him losing some much time to Contador. That something more is his response to bad luck. That said, I think Porte has it in him to show more fortitude in the future.

    • Derek Maher

      Watching the Sky Team in this Giro one gets the impression that Riche Porte never had a real chance of winning the GC.While talented he is no Alberto who can handle the mountains without support.On many of the stages Riche did not appear to have a lot of backup even on the flat part of the stages from his team.To my mind he was badly served by the SKY management Team selection when it came to picking a 3 week GC contender Team.

      • Adam Fuller

        That really doesn’t match with how it played out. He didn’t lose any time in the mountains until after his injury and it was all over.

  • Discussion thread #6: Are you able to enjoy Astana’s dominance of the race? Or does the team’s tainted past spoil the spectacle?

    • Michele

      Short answer: No.

      If it was Team Sky: answer would still be no.

      So getting back to Astana, the fact they are dominating when they shouldn’t [IMO] even be there isn’t even factored into it.

    • jules

      no. yes.

    • roklando

      They remind me too much of USPS. How does basically an entire team climb the M. di Campiglio like they did yesterday, at the end of the 2nd week of a GT?

      • jules

        ask Hendo ;)

    • donncha

      Finding it difficult to decide on this one.

      On pure visuals, sure, it looks very USPS and the logical conclusion is doping. However, timings indicated that Landa climbed almost two minutes slower than Pantani, and if you look at Astana’s team, they’ve brought a bunch of solid climbers, much more so than Saxo anyway. I don’t trust the team at all, but Aru looks “normal”, in that he was crap in the TT as expected, and you could see last night that he’s a bit buggered and in need of a rest day. If I had to guess about anyone on that team, I’d say Landa or Tiralongo are the likely ‘hot’ riders.

      Nevertheless, regardless of how they look, Bertie on his own was still able to take everything they threw at him, with ease.

    • FT27

      Their dominance is insulting not only to us fans but to the whole peloton. Would be interesting to hear some of the chats the riders are having about it.

    • haitch

      Kangert is the only one to do well in the TT and be in that front group during the finale last night. Their strength is a bit of an illusion, I think.

      Landa would’ve been team leader for Kelme or some team like that 15 years ago; cashed-up teams like Astana stockpile guys like that as domestiques now.

    • BarkingOwl

      The Inrng blog pointed out that eyebrows were raised after they dominated week one and judegment should be held until we see how they’re going later in the race. Well if Astana are still chasing down breakaways with 5 blokes on the front in the mountains in week 3 then they’re a dodgier unit than I previously feared!

    • Stompin

      Why are Astana there? #Wheelgate is nothing compared to Astana’s sordid shenanigans. Q. Do I enjoy watching doped-up-to-the-eyeballs cyclists make a mockery of the UCI? No, I don’t.

    • ena

      The only way Astana is different than Sky (in terms of racing) is that Astana ride strong only on the climbs, while Sky were as strong in the flats controlling the races in 2012/13.
      Tiralongo was always good climber, but he was ill last year’s Giro and did not perform on his usual level.
      I do not know about Landa, he is still young, 25, and had some decent results over the last few years, so it should not be such a surprise he’s progressing getting into his best years.
      The form of Aru or Kangert is not a surprise for me.
      Having said that, the only thing I like about Astana is that they are riding Campy …

    • Derek Maher

      Best Team in the Giro.Selected for their climbing strength.Aru could be the weak link due to possible lack of stamina rather than talent.
      Alberto is a one man team when it comes to the mountains and TT and has thrown a spanner into the Astana overall plan.Having said that Tinkov/Saxo are very strong on holding on untill the climbing begins.
      When all is said and done Astana have given a huge boost to this years Giro and made it a great race.

    • donncha

      Vettoo has put put his power estimates for Madonna di Compiglio….

      Landa, 5.77W/kg for around 35mins.

      So, although they *look* like a bunch of dopers, in reality they’re well within the bounds of clean physiology

  • Discussion thread #7: Alberto Contador. What more can be said?

    • Michele

      Looking forward to seeing how he goes this week.

      Aiming for the “double” – I would assume [love to hear an expert speak about this], Bertie would have been slightly underdone at the beginning of the Giro. And I would assume he hasn’t hit top gear yet either.

      He does seem to have lost some explosiveness on the climbs that he once possessed. There are several reasons why that could be the case; so that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

      Whether he shoulder was dislocated or not, I’ve been impressed how he’s not panic, been assertive and although without support, carries himself against the numbers of Astana as if he holds the upper hand.

      There’s some seriously tough mental strength in him.

      • JBS

        I remember reading reports just prior to the Giro where Contador himself suggested he was underdone and looking to build his form through the Giro. So I reckon you are on the money there.

        As for the shoulder, I doubt it was injured as bad as initially reported. Contador has history for foxing and overselling the extent of his injuries. See the whole will he/won’t he recover drama leading up to last year’s Vuelta. This isn’t a knock on the guy, I think he just feigns the extent of injuries for tactical advantage. Either that or he has balls of steel that would make Jens weep!

    • Whippet

      He seems to have transformed from El Pistolero to The Sniper. He doesn’t hit the mountains with guns blazing anymore. Rather, he calculates each shot, and carefully aims to kill.

    • Dale Smith

      He’s been amazing to watch. That footage of Porte’s crash was a window into Contador’s mindset. He landed on his bum, got back up quickly and started waving and yelling at his teammates and demanding a bike, like every second mattered. It wasn’t panic, it was urgency. His teammate ran to give him his bike, then Contador was off. The “am I hurt?” thoughts came later. Just a super competitor.

      • Winky

        Yep, he seems a crazy-tough bugger.

    • Derek Maher

      Best GC rider in the Giro and probably the world of Pro cycling.

  • Discussion thread #8: What have we missed? What’s caught your eye in the second week of the 2015 Giro d’Italia?

    • Michele

      I think there’s a possibility Landa / Aru could turn into Wiggins / Froome circa 2012. I can’t see Aru getting stronger; so not sure why he’s still be designated as out-and-out team leader.

      I reckon Astana missed a trick overnight; I think Landa had it in him to go a lot earlier and put more than just a handful of seconds into Alberto.

      If that scenario occurs again and Landa attacks from a lot further out and Aru can’t match him, I reckon Landa won’t turn around this time. He’ll just go for it – regardless of what the team orders might be.

      I’m now trying to find out if Aru and Landa have partners / wives etc on Twitter. Think I might just start following them this week. Might just get a bit interesting.

      • Dave

        You would think that Astana would have plenty of ideas about how to handle it even without seeking the wisdom of Sir Dave, given they previously had the same issue with Contador and Lord Voldemort (i.e. he who shaLl not be nAmed) at the TdF.

      • Andy B

        Its hard to say but I don’t think these guys have the same personality to create that kind of conflict..
        Wiggo is a pretty unique guy

        Plus Aru having over two minutes on Landa has to mean something for team orders

  • Chuck

    has led, not has lead…

  • Holby City

    Contador finished third not second in the ITT.


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