Giro d’Italia 2015: Stage 14 Preview

Stage_14_Prof

Stage 14: Treviso › Valdobbiadene – 59.4kkm

Sacha Modolo’s victory on Stage 13 was not too surprising, but the carnage near the finish that dropped Alberto Contador (slightly) and Richie Porte (significantly) down the GC leaderboard was. Two weeks into the Giro d’Italia, there have been several days with major GC consequences that didn’t seem likely to have much of an effect on the overall race at first. Nevertheless, Stage 14 could shake things up more than any of those days have so far.

At nearly 60km, this is one long race against the clock. The profile could be split into two halves. The first 30km of the stage are quite flat, and will favor the larger engines in the peloton. The second half of the stage is a bit hillier. Things start off with a roughly 5km climb at an approximately 4% average gradient. Then comes a descent and another flat stretch, before another ascent into a rolling final few kilometers.

The sheer length of this parcours, and the lack of any serious climbs (especially in the first 30km) will put the ITT powerhouses in their element.

The Giro GC conversation happens to have several top all-rounders with elite time trialing skills who should thrive even on the flats, and in the absence of chrono specialists at the level of a Tony Martin or a Tom Domoulin, this stage is likely to come down to the pink jersey hunters.

Richie Porte is certainly among the favorites, given his excellent time trialing skills. Two days ago, I would have named him the heavy favorite here. However, both his morale and his body (his knee, in particular) appeared to be affected by the Stage 13 crash. 60km is a long time to be in a very specific position, and if Porte isn’t feeling great, or isn’t feeling particularly motivated now that he’s so far off track in the GC conversation, he could easily falter. It’s very hard to tell just how he’ll do. If he’s at or near his best in spite of his recent troubles, he should win.

Rigoberto Urán won last year’s Giro time trial, and he’s developed into an impressive chrono talent over the last few years. However, his form has not been at quite the level he probably hoped for in this race, and he recently crashed. Just as is the case with Porte, it’s hard to say how that will affect his chances, but judging from the riding he’s done since going down on Stage 12, I don’t think his fall had that much of an effect on him, and I do think that he’s been completely focused on this opportunity since the start of the race, so I’d imagine he’ll do pretty well here in Stage 14.

Alberto Contador has been a strong time trialist for a while, but he’s been stellar in the ITTs over the past 12 months or so. It’s an area of his game that may have been overlooked. In multiple recent face-offs that he’s had with Chris Froome in which most expected the Briton to put time into the Spaniard, Contador has come out on top. Unfortunately from a prognostication standpoint, Contador has taken a physical beating in this Giro, crashing multiple times. If he can’t position himself comfortably on the bike for the long period of time required in this ITT, he could suffer. Contador’s a fighter, though, and he can ride through pain better than most, so I think we can expect a strong ride.

Fabio Aru will probably lose time to a few of his rivals here, but his teammate Dario Cataldo almost certainly will not, and could challenge for the Stage 14 win, as might Tanel Kangert. Richie Porte’s Sky teammates Leopold König and Vasil Kiryienka, Alberto Contador’s Tinkoff-Saxo teammate Michael Rogers, Movistar’s Andrey Amador, Ion Izagirre, and Giovanni Visconti, Kristoff Vandewalle, Luke Durbridge, Patrick Gretsch, Sylvain Chavanel, and Ilnur Zakarin are other riders to watch in this very long race against the clock.

VeloHuman Stage 14 Favorites

1. Richie Porte | 2. Rigoberto Urán | 3. Alberto Contador

Be sure to follow @VeloHuman on Twitter for more race analysis, and check back after the conclusion of Stage 14 for the preview of the next stage. Also, don’t miss the most recent episode of the Recon Ride podcast!

-Dane Cash

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