Giro d'Italia 2015 stage - 21
  • Discussion thread #1: Was there a more impressive rider in the last week than Ryder Hesjedal?

    • Michele

      No …

    • Kieran Degan

      Can anyone add up the times to see who won the last week of the Giro? I’m sure it would Ryder.

      • Michele

        On the second rest day, Ryder was 11’17” minutes down on Bertie, just under 9 minutes behind Aru and a touch over 7 minutes behind Landa.

        Therefore he gained a 1’30 on Contador, a minute on Aru and about 15 seconds on Landa.

        I believe he was quickest – but I thought the gaps might have been bigger.

        • Kieran Degan

          Wow. That’s huge. Thanks for the info.

    • A

      Aru – because in the race I was watching he won two stages in the last week…

      • Samaway

        Agreed. Especially given that he was basically written off after the Motirolo

    • Oldan Slo

      Landa. If he had been let off leash, he would have been even more impressive.

    • Rizwan

      I thought Kruijswijk was superb as well.

      • Michele

        He was my “man of the match”. Got nothing to really show for it, i.e. a KOM Jersey.

    • CC

      Absolutely. Ryder’s Giro was abit like tits on a bull.

    • Kruijswijk.

    • Sean Doyle

      I find it hard to like him for some reason. Don’t know what it is.

    • Derek Maher

      For me it was Landa,Given the position he held in the Team and the constraints he was under.
      Katusha might be his team choice next year ?.

    • Kruijswijk maybe comes closest of the non-GC contenders.

    • SpaceKnight

      Same can be said for Kruijswijk with his time trial and mortirolo assent . the english native speakers always favour rider with their own tongue but kruijswijk was equally impressive and made a similar progress in the qualification.

  • Discussion thread #2: Do you think Fabio Aru will win a Grand Tour? Will his time trialling need to improve?

    • Michele

      If the course is right, then yes.

      Interesting to see what the Giro organisers serve up next year. Probably go with a mountain ITT.

    • Arfy

      Yes and yes. He’s only young, and he really did show his mental strength to keep going hard when the chips were down. The only thing that could stop him is if his past associates prove to be as shady as they appear and he gets busted.

    • CB

      It’s likely but who knows. Baronchelli once got within 12 seconds of beating Merkcx at the Giro, in his first attempt, but never won a GT. Aru had plenty of bad days that won’t go unnoticed or unpunished by rivals such as Quintana who he will be up against for many years to come, so all the work is ahead of him.

    • Sean Doyle

      He’s a fighter and obviously has some talent. Time will tell.

    • I think he needs to improve all round. When Quintana came 2nd in the Tour, he was clearly the strongest climber around, but his TT’ing meant he wasn’t ready for a real Grand Tour attempt. Aru was good this year, but he clearly needs to be in super good form as well as improving his TT.

  • Discussion thread #3: What do you think: can Contador do the Giro/Tour double?

    • Paolo

      YES, and then go to the Vuelta, win there and announce retirement in Madrid, perfect location after a perfect season for El Pistolero from Madrid. Btw, he’s won nine GT’s ;-)

      • Dale Smith

        I think you’re right Paulo. I think he’s targeting all 3 GT’s this year. Would be very surprised if he doesn’t line up for the Vuelta.
        I think he can win the TDF but I wouldn’t put him as top favourite.

        • Michele

          No way is he going to win (without doping) three in a year. I’ll bet my house on that.

          If he wins the Tour he will be the first rider even to be reigning champion of all 3 GT.

          That in itself would be remarkable, let alone doing the grand slam in the one calendar year.

          • Dale Smith

            Yeah I don’t think he’ll win the Tour Michele. But it’s possible. A bit like I didn’t think Nibali would win last year, and if Froome and Contador were still there at the end he probably wouldn’t have. But anything can happen. I think Contador will be on a similar level to Nibali this year, and not quite as strong as Quintana and Froome. If something happened to those two and Contador did win, then I’d put money on him lining up at the Vuelta. I’m just saying it’s something that’s at the back of his mind.

          • Nick

            “If he wins the Tour he will be the first rider ever to be reigning champion of all 3 GT.”
            Since Bernard Hinault. And Merckx before him. Good quality riders to be alongside, though.

          • Merckx won the Vuelta when it was in the spring after winning the Giro-Tour double the year before.

            • Michele

              Yeah – good pick up. Another posted alerted me to this.

              The badger did as well.

              I was trying to work it out using a chart on Wikipedia.

              The GT are laid out in their current running order.

              Was going my head in trying to place / move the Vuelta back to spring. :-)

      • Steel

        Won*

    • Possible.
      Maybe he has done quarter of the job – adding a second grand tour being so much more degree of difficulty

      • Dave

        Especially considering that the second will be the Tour de France, where Sky, Astana, Katyusha and Movistar won’t be sending the same second-stringers they had contesting the GC at the Giro.

    • Michele

      No he can’t.

      I think he’ll not even get close to Quintana.

    • sli1

      I’m sceptical about Contador being able to do it. I keep picturing the difference in pace when he was dropped by the Aru group on the Finestre while Landa absolutely powered his way to Zakarin to catch him before the top of the climb. Which leads to another point – why isn’t Landa’s performance talked about as one of seven talking points. Frankly, it overshadowed Aru as he was told to wait for Aru on Stage 20.

      • Arfy

        Landa being called back was the disappointment of the Giro for me. It seems it was all about having an Italian in the Top 2 rather than letting Landa have a go for the win and risk having two Spaniards ahead of the Italian.

        • sli1

          I think Landa was stronger than Aru. I struggle to believe in Landas’ performance and my sense is that the cycling media & public does as well. Not rating his performance in the top 7 talking points demonstrates the doubt in his performance. Nevertheless, Astana worrying about 2-3 finish vs maybe a 5% chance at dramatically winning the thing on the climb to Sestiere was weird. Ultimately it looks the right call as Contador had enough in him to limit the losses but Astana did seem to value cementing a 2-3 position over risking it all for the win.

        • Dave

          To me it looked more like inept tactical decision making rather than anything deliberate.

      • jakub

        keep in mind that Contador was not in his peak form, and it would have been a mistake if he was. he came into the race slowly building up, which was enough to seal the victory. he was missing explosivness on climbs showed by Landa, but again, you can’t keep such a high level twice within span of two months. this is what is he going to polish on Teide in coming weeks. I also think he was kilo-two heavier than last year before the Tour, his face seemed really thin on photos back then. nevertheless, I reckon that Tour is going to be a tough one.

        • Samaway

          I think Contador’s conservative form (for lack of a better phrase) is a very understated point. I imagine the plan is for him to rest up and arrive even better at the TDF.

    • T. Abbott (ACT)

      Nope, nope, nope.

    • sli1

      I said I was sceptical/doubtful that he could do the double earlier today. I thought about it more. He will probably finish one or two places higher than should because he is just so tough/resilient. He has a chance, maybe 30%

    • Sean Doyle

      No. Fatigue will catch up with him. Another two or three weeks in between maybe then…..

    • Derek Maher

      He has an excellent chance of the double if luck stays with him.No crashes or mechanicals at bad times?.
      Some have said he is looking a little overweight at the moment.No bad thing gives him room to shed a couple of Kilos for the TDF and be in top form.

    • Whippet

      I think he can. Not sure what the probability is though. But who cares what I think. More interesting is that during the Eurosport coverage of the Giro, Lemond, Kelly & Flecha all stated (at different times) they think Contador will win the Tour.

      • sli1

        While its unlikely he can do it, out of the big 4, he is the most likely to pull it off.

  • Discussion thread #4: Philippe Gilbert’s win on stage 18 was very impressive. What was your favourite stage and why?

    • Michele

      Wasn’t my favourite [so I guess I’m not answering the question :) ], but last night’s stage typifies why the Giro is a much more interesting/enjoyable race than the TdF. [You could debate the TdF is not a race but an event now anyway].

      Had it all:
      – A bit of argy bargy between riders
      – Teams not being able to control breakaways [happened a few times during Giro], allowing Keisse to win.

      – Some Euro techno music pumping out the speakers each time the peloton crossed the finish line

      – Riders puncturing left, right and centre

      – Chaos reigning

      Think back over the last 3 weeks, every stage had some major impact on the race. Be it a crash, or GC riders being held up by a crash or a mechanical, a wheel exchange, some great racing, the breakaways beating the sprinters teams.

      I don’t really think there was a dull day. And that’s not even taking into account some of the best scenery you could ever want to see in a GT.

      Race organisers probably wishing it just snowed on a mountain stage to make it “truly epic” ™.

    • The Mortirolo stage, seeing Contador battle his way back up like a boss after getting left behind with a flat tire. And I immensely enjoyed (revelation) Kruijswijk’s steady climbing on this hellish mountain. Hoping to see more of these hard battles in the TdF

    • Sean Doyle

      He’s a cagey rider and generally when he goes…he goes very well.

      I didn’t see all the stages but the ones I saw (about 5) were all great for different reasons.

  • Discussion thread #5: How did you rate the course for this year’s Giro? Well balanced? Not enough opportunities for the sprinters?

    • Michele

      They had their opportunities. They made a meal of 2 stages – at least – that should’ve ended in a bunch sprint.

      Course was just about perfect.

      Even the so-called transition stages all had something going on in them.

    • Dale Smith

      Fantastic course. Seemed to dispense of the concept of a transitional stage. Every stage was a race in its own right.

    • Kieran Degan

      Brilliant. I like the idea of only 1 long TT. The short stages that encourage aggressive racing are brilliant too.

    • Sean Doyle

      I agree with Michele’s summation.

    • Derek Maher

      Great Giro Course which kept the interest level very high.
      Some of the past TDF courses were very take it or leave it in comparison.One could skip a stage without missing much.

    • Samaway

      Best GT course in recent years (that I can recall). The lumpy days were great and the mountains were HUGE! I don’t feel bad for the sprinters at all as they mucked up a couple of “their” days…

    • Kyle V.

      I think it was balanced fairly well and was easily the best grand tour I’ve ever watched (I’ve only been watching since 2010), there weren’t any real boring days. I think shortening some of the flatter days really helped liven up some stages, obviously the shorter days themselves can be raced more aggressively but I suspect that the days before and after also see a boost.

    • Mikael_L

      It was great, each night where I went “nah, boring stage, I’ll get some sleep” something happened.

  • Discussion thread #6: Could Astana have won the Giro if they’d attacked straight away when Contador was dropped?

    • Michele

      I think they needed to risk a podium place to try and win the Giro.

      They should’ve attacked Bertie a lot earlier on whilst climb the Finestre. Would’ve been pretty unlikely they would’ve got the 4.5 minutes back from Contador; but I think you had to try.

      I’m pretty sure most thought Durbo and Keisse would get caught last night. Astana had to give it a shot; you just never know.

    • sli1

      They were attacking when Contador was dropped, Landa was flying across to Zakarin at the time. Aru looked like he was on the limit at that moment and couldn’t attack himself.

      • Michele

        Should they had done that earlier on the climb though?

        • sli1

          Michele, I was pointing out that the question posed isn’t the correct one. In regards to your question, yes, it would have been interesting for them to attack earlier but really, how would they have known to do that ? There were a couple of attacks a bit earlier (i think before the gravel) but Contador was able to cover them with his normal style. I expect riding on the slippery gravel was a struggle for Contador due to his want for powering the pedals out of the saddle. So maybe the optimal time to attack might have been a km or two earlier when they had been riding the gravel for some time but their was still a long stretch of gravel to go. Having said all that – there is no way to know the perfect time to attack.

          • Holby City

            This is exactly what Alberto said, it was difficult to ride out of the saddle on the gravel.

            I think he rode to a master plan and built up such an advantage so he had a decent buffer and could start to taper. Don’t forget how big his effort on the ITT was compared to Aru and Landa, and then chasing down the two of them over a minute ahead before reaching the halfway point of the Mortirolo.

            Contador raced the perfect tour and if he can recover he might just do it. There’s no other pro that could even get close to doing it but him.
            He did look a bit overweight too. Stated weight was 63kg and I’m sure he used to be around 60kg.

            • Whippet

              Last night Sean Kelly said the same thing Holby. He noticed that Contador started to follow the attack, then suddenly slowed. That’s not usually what happens when you’re on your limit for too long and start to fade. Kelly said (paraphrase) that Contador: “Was bluffing a bit. He carefully kept the time gap around 1:20 to 1:30. Contador is already preparing for the Tour.”

        • pedr09

          The Astana riders said they didn’t attack Contador earlier because he covered the early attacks and looked his usual self. He was bluffing and it worked for long enough to limit the damage. That takes a great deal of composure and control and it was a factor in saving his Giro. The other factor was Astana’s decision to call Landa back to Aru. We’ll never know if either/both of them could have made back the time required, but with Landa waiting and Aru refusing to work with the chasing group while Landa was ahead, any chance of pink was all but gone. A total screw up by Astana.

          • Michele

            They’re good, valid points.

            I just wonder if the tables were turned; if Contador was sitting in second, had a strong team mate in 3rd and had 2 other team mates for support, whilst the leader on GC was isolated – whether Bertie would just tried the one of 2 attacks.

            I’d imagine he’d at least try and put his rival in the “red”.

            But I also agree with you; Alberto’s composure on that stage was remarkable. I wonder how many others would’ve panicked in such circumstances?

            • sli1

              Bertie would go. We saw that even though Froome was superior to him to in the 2013 TdF, he relentlessly attacked. He could have easily saved third and didn’t bother. It was win or nothing.
              In 2011 after winning the Giro, he was reasonably far back, I think in 4th (can’t remember the time difference) but also attacked from a long way out on the Galibier. He seems OK with attacking and failing and to never lose wondering. A difficult/admirable trait for anyone to have.

              • Michele

                It makes for great watching though!

                • sli1

                  Yep, you look at how good the Giro was and then ask – if Contador wasn’t there or he had withdrawn after the fall on his shoulder, how much would we (and the UCI) have enjoyed watching Astana decimate everyone ?

        • davy

          I think Contador was not in difficulty after the Finestre and I agree with sli1 below on Contador struggling with gravel. Watching the time gap on the last climb I really think Contador was just conserving energy, his legs and mentally recovering. He had more than 3 minutes leeway at the bottom and it would have been much easier for him to ride up the climb at his own tempo rather than bridge and then respond to attacks the rest of the climb. Of course he could just have the greatest poker face of any GT rider currently…

          • Neuron1

            Davy, I was standing on the side of the road at Finestre and Contador was spent long before the gravel started. The look on his face and posture was pure pain at 43 km from the finish. Landa and Aru looked confident and composed. If they had attacked sooner I think they could have totally broken him. He is such a poker player though that he seems to be able to pull it off and bluff others into thinking he is stronger at any time than he actually is. But that is part of the game.

    • MushieG

      Has any team ever gone 1,2,3 in any Grand Tour?

      • Michele

        Not in modern times.

        Haven’t checked, but I’d imagine France came 1-2-3 when they raced as nations.

        But it could of happened, if it wasn’t for that selfish, no “I in Team” Alberto Contador with Astana at the 2009 Tour de France, where Bertie cost Klöden a podium place. (According to Lance and Horner anyway).

    • Sean Doyle

      Astana’s problem was they were maybe too strong and didn’t measure themselves out more carefully. They seemed confused on when they should go and when they should piano. I liked the aggressive racing though. Would not have liked being on the end of it though.

  • Discussion thread #7: Who do you think is the rider to beat at the Tour de France? How do you think it will unfold?

    • Michele

      Nairo

    • Michele

      Nairo

    • Arfy

      It will be an interesting first week, as crosswinds could really put some early gaps in GC during the first couple of stages, and then the cobbles. Froome will keep it upright this time with the new tyres. I think Nibali and Froome will be best placed after the first week, then Contador and Quintana will be chasing time in the mountains. My rational top three are Nibali, Quintana, Froome. But I’d like to see Contador and Quintana go head-to-head for the win.

    • sli1

      Quintana.

    • Dale Smith

      Quintana. 13.8km ITT only long enough for Froome to seconds rather than minutes. Sky may well get beaten by Movistar in TTT too. Nibali won’t be able to keep with them when it comes to the pinch in the mountains (although maybe there’s some other unknown Astana guy who will!!!). The dark horse is Contador who would definitely be going in as the underdog. As we saw from the Giro there’s more to winning a grand tour than how many watts you can push out.

    • Kieran Degan

      Quintana. Although I don’t know how they’l manage balancing it out with Valverde in the first half of the race with Bretagne and Hoy. Maybe he’ll have a carte blanche on those days. I’d love to see Purito do it, this is his best chance in years. All in all though it is shaping up to be epic.

    • Paolo

      Froome has won one GT, Quintana as well, Nibali won three, Contador won nine (or seven, if you like) incl. the last two on the calendar (Vuelta and Giro)…so i guess Contador is the rider to beat?!

    • Bex

      Froome (if he’s in 2013 form), he can climb with the best and TT. plus he’ll have a super team keeping him out of trouble. Quintana wasn’t able to keep up in 2013 when Froome was going strong. Only the cobbles could upset him.

    • Daniel

      Battle between the big four and their respective super domestiques. Froome falters half way and Porte takes over, manages to steal an unlikely win in Paris.

      Yes, this is about a 100:1 chance. If I’m wrong, nobody will remember. If I am right, I shall be worshiped as a genius!

    • pedr09

      After Contador and Froome crashed out last year, I expected Nibali to be a chance for the win but holy crap, he blew them all way. I watched him ride in the high mountains and seriously began to doubt whether anyone, even Froome or Contador could have dropped him. The footage of him riding seated past Nieve on Hautacam was nothing short of astounding. Nibali had not even come close to Froome and Contador’s form leading up to the Tour. He’s going to give the favourites hell on the descents as you’d expect but If he rides the cobbles and the mountains like he did last year, and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t, he could shock everyone.

    • Il_falcone

      Nibali. Not only because of another cobble stage. If it rains on that day (or the day before) Astana will cause havoc again on the cobbles – now they also have Boom in their dress – and each of the other three GC-contenders will loose several minutes. And with the strength Nibali had in the mountains yesteryear you have to count with him being able to limit his losses to Quintana to just a few seconds if he not just smashes them also in the climbs.

      • Neuron1

        I agree. Nibali has a number of great attributes. The problem though is that if he beats the other contenders on the cobbles early in the race he then must defend the jersey and exhaust his team. This Giro shows how gaining the jersey early can destroy the ability to fight for it later, when Contador was isolated in the mountains. It should be great a great Tour to watch if the big names are still in it at the end.

  • Discussion thread #8: What have we missed? What will you remember the 2015 Giro d’Italia for?

    • Michele

      For once again delivering what will be the best GT of the year.

      • Survey says

        Perhaps mention of Contador holding three fingers up in celebration after this particular win? That 2011 Giro win, in terms of dominance is 2nd only to his 2009 TDF win, so perhaps it’s not surprising he considers it his, despite what those such as Matt Keenan may think is just arrogance.

        • sli1

          If I put myself in his shoes, I probably would have steered clear of suggesting how many I won. But I also think it would be bizarre if he held two fingers, ie he agreed that only two were legit!

    • Michele

      For once again delivering what will be the best GT of the year.

    • sli1

      Landa’s emergence

    • Rob

      You have completely avoided the elephant in the room, namely stage times and speeds being too good to be true.

      Where was Landa last year? That transformation cannot be down to diet and training alone.

      Astana should have had their UCI licence revoked, and here they were, stronger than everyone else by some margin. I don’t believe in coincidences.

      I’m far too sceptical to think that Aru had a good night’s sleep, and then miraculously turned that very noticeable slump around.

      Almost choked whilst reading your gushing blurb on Hesjedal. Logic suggests that riders get more fatigued as a gruelling three week tour unfolds. Yet his performances are contrary to that, showing remarkable improvements, which you glossed over.

      Cycling is dirtier than it ever was, and anyone who disagrees is choosing the path of blissful ignorance.

      • Bex

        I agree Aru’s turn around was quite remarkable, as is Landa’s emergence.

        I don’t think Ryder’s performance is so strange though, he was obviously tired on stage 20, and his use of tactics put him in much better positions than others found themselves to be in. I wouldn’t say he got fresher as the race went on, rather he didn’t seem to fatigue as quickly as some others.

        For me another unknown was Kruijswijk’s performance, I hadn’t heard of him before this race. Also Bertie getting dropped like that suggests he’s not on ‘boost’ juice for recovery, it was just Astana that looks really dodgy.

        • Rob

          On a summit finish no less, there were four Astana riders in the top 10. Not since the glory days of 1987 has this been seen (Panasonic, stage 1 Giro 1987).

          Why is cyclingtips dancing around this issue? Oh that’s right, it doesn’t want to upset their site sponsors who all want to maintain that the sport is clean.

          • Bex

            Settle down, i’m sure we’ll get an excellent article from CT when they’ve had time to compile some facts and do a little investigation. It’s one thing for us to be throwing these thoughts around, but when something is published by a credible site, you expect them to have done some due diligence and have something to backup any claims made.

            • Thanks Bex. Precisely.

            • Michele

              Nicely put Bex.

          • Rob, site sponsors don’t pressure us to “dance around this issue” nor do we try. We reach tens of thousands of people every day and we can’t simply put unfounded allegations out there without any proof or facts. Of course we’re speaking with people and compiling as much information as we can, but until someone tests positive or the UCI puts out a statement, what would you like us to do? I watched the same race as you did with the same skepticism, but there are libel laws that don’t allow us to write defamatory claims based on what we “think” is going on.

            • Rob

              Thanks Wade. I understand your position. I suppose my comments were more aimed at why there’s such a celebratory tone, when there’s clearly scepticism out there amongst fans of the sport.

              • Dave

                The big red S will certainly be celebrating it!

              • In our editorial meetings I can assure you that a big part of our discussions revolve around how we can write a piece that underlines the skepticism that even the riders are experiencing. However, as you can see with Henderson being sued by Aru, it’s understandable why people would prefer to keep their mouths shut.

          • Neuron1

            Funny, but when Sky were demolishing everything in sight in 2012 and 2013 there was no speculation about their “cleanliness”. Astana are under such scrutiny and supervision only a crazy would try something. I think they came to the Giro with the dual goals of 1) doing their best to win it and 2) exhausting Contador as much as possible for the Tour. He basically had no recovery days the entire race. And please show me a team that brought the super domestiques that Astana did. The Tinkoff riders are old, way beyond their prime and completely exhausted themselves in the first week. Sky fell apart after Porte exited. Canondale didn’t even attempt to support Ryder and Movistar clearly didn’t bring their A team. BMC had no plan other than stage wins with Gilbert, he was wearing the “1” for his team. Final point, Tinkoff have two convicted dopers on their squad, one with a biological passport case pending and Rogers who should have been convicted.

      • sli1

        I was letting someone else get to this. Is there evidence to suggest stage times and speeds were too good to be true though?
        Aru’s good night’s sleep and turn around seems reminiscent of the old days.
        Hesjedal only has to have performance decline at a slower rate than others, ie he didn’t actually get better during the third week.
        “Landa’s emergence” as I wrote it is being undersold and I expect its due to strong doubts.

        • sli1

          Snap, Bex got his similar view in before I hit “post”

        • Rob

          Many riders talked about how challenging the course was this year.

          Since measurements have been taken, this was the third fastest Giro ever.

          • Michele

            Let’s be honest here Rob. ‘Challenging” isn’t a scientific measurement.

            Riders can say the course is challenging for a number of reasons.

            Case in point: Paris-Roubaix, Milan – San Remo and Flanders are run on essentially the same course each year.

            One edition of either of those races can be more challenging one year than the next. Factors like weather, team, tactics, form of riders etc. can all contribute to it being challenging.

            How much more so, when the route changes each year.

            So just because this is the 3rd fastest Giro ever, and the parcours was described [by some] as challenging doesn’t mean everyone was on the juice.

            A little bit more research is required, before any assertion like that can be made.

          • Jessy Vee

            The way I read it, rider’s weren’t necessarily saying how challenging ‘the course’ was, but rather the way each stage was ridden. Flat, transition stages which are usually used by the riders to have a rest were ridden with ferocity of the top mountain stages because the top GC teams didn’t want to allow other teams to attack. Ergo, more challenging.

        • Michele

          Is there evidence??? Not much at the moment – aside from total Kms / winners time. And we all know how misleading that calculation can be.

          Example: Basso @ 2006 Giro – when he rode like an extra-terrestrial in comparison to his rivals. His average winning speed was approx 38.5 km/h [won by over 9 minutes].

          Fignon in ’89 won with ave speed of 39.8 km/h.

          Reading Fignon autobiography, we know he used some PEDs – but in comparison to what Basso was ‘allegedly’ using in 2006, no where as effective.

          Too many variables. As you rightfully suggest, it needs to be investigated further.

      • Arfy

        “Aru will sue.”

      • Robert Merkel

        Contador’s performance up the Mortirolo was nowhere near the records from the late 90s.

        Aru’s time on Sestriere was a recordbut it’s a 5% climb done under near-optimal conditions (teammate leadout, then a TT effort to the finish on the steeper bit).

        The things I find more worrying are Mick Rogers’ comments about the hardness of the Giro, the strength of Astana, and the combination of Aru’s team, Hendo’s potentially costly suspicions, and his amazing recovery in the last couple of stages combined with his high level of absolute performance as indicated by some fast climb times.

        • Neuron1

          Which side of Sestriere are the records from? I may be wrong, but I don’t believe that this combination of Finestre and Sestriere have been used too many times. Also, the stage was flat leading up to the two climbs. Not a complete beast of a day for the peloton.

          • Robert Merkel

            I believe the unofficial “record” I’m quoting is on the correct side of the Sestriere, but as you note it hasn’t been ridden that often. And you’re also right about the flatness before the final two climbs.

      • Michele

        Rob … can I politely suggest something ….

        You say there’s an elephant in the room, because the average speeds and stage times are too good to be true.

        What were the average speeds for this years Giro? What were the VAMs on the climbs? How many Vertical metres did they climb in this year compared to previous editions?

        Now to Ryder …

        Please show me – aside from the fact he rode the last week 90 seconds quicker than Bertie, 60 seconds faster than Aru and 15 seconds faster than Landa, and his GC position went up a few places – that his PERFORMANCE actually IMPROVED.

        Can you show me / direct me to where his VAMs, average speed got better / faster in the third week.

        You know, there is a possibility that Ryder didn’t actually show ‘remarkable improvements’, but rather he made up time and GC places because he’s always shown himself to have great endurance in a 3 week race, and his performance didn’t drop off as much as it did with other riders.

        One final question …

        If cycling is dirtier than ever, and even reading about it can be detrimental to your health [death through choking wouldn’t be nice], why do you even bother following it?

        Give it up and do / watch something else that doesn’t give you so much angst.

        Look forward to your answers.

        • Rob

          Must be delightful to accept everything you see on face value.

          As for your requests for information, you can find them yourself easily enough.

          • Michele

            I much prefer to get all the facts before I fly off half-cocked making statements about the how dirty cycling is.

            Yes, I’m sceptical of some of the riders who finished with a high GC position. But there is a big difference between not easily convinced; having doubts or reservations and “cycling is dirtier than it ever was”.

            That said, I can’t find a shred of evidence to give credence to your claim that Ryder showed remarkable improvement in the final week. If you could be so kind to point me in the right direction.

            But the one question you didn’t answer … which I won’t find on Google and I’m ‘sceptical’ you will provide, is why you still follow the sport when it’s so dirty.

            • Rob

              You’ll find I didn’t answer any of your questions. I’m not here to entertain your curiosities. And being a pedant about the language used by others makes you very tedious.

              • Michele

                Good to see we can agree on one point: you’re not entertaining.

                No worries about not answering my questions. All good. I didn’t really expect / think you could.

                For your sake, let’s hope that cycling can clean up it’s act.

                :)

                • Derek Maher

                  Got to agree Michele,Some people resent seeing a Team do well so the old doping allegations start flying.
                  A few people seem to think they are in the majority when talking about how the fans feel.
                  I enjoyed this Giro and if by chance a rider was on the juice.No doubt it will come out but I will not lose any sleep over it.

              • Neuron1

                I’ll repeat an earlier comment. Tinkoff is the only team at this Giro with two convicted dopers, an ongoing biological passport case and another clenbuterol positive that was swept under the rug. Not a single Astana rider has been implicated at this time. If and when that occurs you can say you told us so. Until then it is completely unfounded speculation.

            • Whippet

              I agree that we punters are speculating with limited information. Yet the number of positive tests and doping cases doesn’t seem to be dropping. I don’t see any evidence that performance enhancing drugs are not a part of cycling. However, I still race my bike and enjoy watching others race. Ryder admitted to using EPO when some facts became public. That didn’t make it any less interesting to watch him have a go at the Giro. Remember that the doping regulations began as a reaction to Tom Simpson’s demise in the Tour. They were seen as protecting riders’ health. Or, more cynically, trying to limit bad publicity. Anyway, even skeptics can enjoy life!

              • Michele

                Nicely put.

                Agree 100%.

                We have to be balanced about the state of cycling: I personally think we are kidding ourselves if we believe it will ever be entirely clean.

                Where there’s money to be made, prestige to claim, there will be teams / riders who cheat – and who are cheating.

                However, there is no way the peloton – as a collective – is as doped as it was in the decade from the mid 90s onwards.

                • Whippet

                  Keen insight as always Michele. The ‘doping dynamic’ is definitely different now. Instead of EPO and steroids, it’s micro dosing and designer drugs. I don’t really care for the moralistic stance of some commentators. For me, the biggest problem with performance enhancing drugs is that the current ‘arms race’ favours those with the most resources.

  • Bracksy

    This year’s TDF will be a battle between Froome and Contador.

    Who exactly is Nibali? Never heard of him before.

    • Neuron1

      He’s they guy with more GT wins and podiums than Froome.

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