The Giro d'Italia reaches its climax with a decisive time trial and three brutal mountain stages. What can Froome do?
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The second weekend of the Giro d’Italia delivered plenty of action, with a resurgent Chris Froome climbing his way to victory during Saturday’s stage to Monte Zoncolan. On Sunday, Simon Yates attacked the bunch to take the win (and much needed time) into Sappada. Giro chaos reigned supreme. Tom Dumoulin complained. Some hero member of the Tifosi even dressed like a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It’s the Giro, so let’s roundtable!
What does Chris Froome’s victory on Monte Zoncolan tell us about the so-called “Froome era?”
Andrew Hood @Eurohoody: It shows that Froome is one hell of a fighter even when the chips are down. Like him or not, Froome simply refuses to throw in the towel. Of all of Froome’s numerous victories, this one will rank right up there near the top for the frayed Sky captain. Froome isn’t anywhere near his Tour de France-winning former self, and many think he should have stayed home in the first place. Froome probably has never had to dig so deep to win a race in his career.
Dane Cash @danecash: Physically speaking, I think the Froome era can continue on for a few years. If he could turn in that performance on Zoncolan while clearly not at his best, he can still be a factor in the grand tours for a while yet. The looming Salbutamol case is a more pressing concern for the longevity of the Froome era.
Fred Dreier @freddreier: I was ready to put a fork in the Froome Era, and then the pointy elbows and washing machine-style attacks came back out on Zoncolan. Froome’s back! I think the Froome era continues for at least two more seasons. Even if he doesn’t win another grand tour, Froome will go down fighting. That’s what we’ve learned from this Giro.
Spencer Powlison @spino_powerlegs: The weird thing is that the Zoncolan win was actually an outlier if we’re categorizing the last five-ish seasons as the “Froome era.” To me, Froome has made his mark with consistent, brutally efficient riding day in, day out at grand tours. This win on Zoncolan came out of nowhere, after some dismal results through the first two weeks of racing. Plus, it was followed up by another stinker in stage 15 the day after. I don’t think Saturday tells us much about the era, more about a desperate star trying to leave Italy with something to show for the effort.
Tom Dumoulin was upset about the tactics in the run-in to Sappada. Does he have room to complain?
Andy: Not really. I suspect everyone in that chase group was on their limit. Lopez and Carapaz were eyeing each other for the white jersey. Pinot took pulls, and Pozzovivo was at the end of his rope. Yates made a perfectly-timed attack that’s textbook perfect on how to drop your GC rivals. Of course, you need the legs, and Yates has four right now.
Dane: Maybe a little bit, but what happened in the finale of the stage is exactly the reason cycling is an interesting sport to watch. None of the big contenders had teammates to put to work in the end. None of them wanted to work, unsurprisingly. To win big races, you have to overcome those challenges.
Fred: C’mon climbers, pull through! I thought it was lame how Carapaz, Pozzovivo, and Lopez just sat on Dumoulin’s wheel and then attacked him, only to be caught again. They’re obviously racing for second or third, not for the win.
Spencer: What a bunch of baloney. Dumoulin is second overall and the defending champion. Plus, he’s going wax them all in the Tuesday time trial. Give me a break Tom. Just ride your mountain TT like you always do and worry about the “cowards” later.
What scenario must occur for Dumoulin to win now?
Andy: He needs to take enough time to take the pink jersey, and then ride defensively all the way to Rome. Dumoulin is hoping for headwinds Tuesday. If not, Yates might lose less than a minute in the TT.
Dane: He needs to lose no more time in the mountains, and he needs Yates to deliver the sort of time trial people expected of him at the beginning of the race. Given the way Yates has been riding, I wouldn’t be all that surprised to see him put in a much better TT than initially expected. On top of all that, he needs Pozzovivo and Pinot to be content with podium rides. Pressure from those two in addition to marking Yates might be too much to overcome.
Fred: I don’t see him taking back the full 2:20 on the time trial, so Dumoulin needs to be extremely conservative over the next few days and hope that Yates simply cooked himself too early in this Giro. It’s not impossible, of course, however it is highly unlikely. If Yates simply runs out of gas on stages 17, 18, and 19, for example, then the door is open for Dumoulin.
Spencer: As Andrew Hood astutely pointed out in his column Monday, Dumoulin needs a brutal head/crosswind to make the time trial extra hard for the pint-sized Yates. Then, he’ll hope that Yates has a bad day in the final few mountain stages (maybe a little like what happened to him in the 2015 Vuelta when Aru beat him on the final mountain day?). Dumoulin hasn’t been amazing on these mountain stages, but he’s been consistent. Keep it up and hope the other guy cracks.
What placing does Chris Froome end up in this Giro, and how does he get there?
Andy: Top-five, maybe the podium. Yates and Dumoulin are 1-2 or 2-1, with Pinot likely third. The miracle third-week revival isn’t going to happen this year for Froome.
Dane: He looks primed for fifth overall right now. He should gain enough time on Miguel Ángel López and Richard Carapaz in the TT to lock that up. To go any better he’d need a really big performance in the mountains in the final week. Normally I’d expect that, but I don’t think it’s likely given the form he’s shown in this race.
Fred: Calling it now: Froome finishes fourth. He mounts a gallant campaign during the third week that nets him another stage win, but comes up just short of the podium.
Spencer: He will ride his way onto the podium in this last week — I’m betting on third. It starts with a really good time trial, which is something he often does late in a grand tour. Then, he grinds away at the brutal last mountain stages while other, more inconsistent GC guys like Pinot and Pozzovivo falter as the stress of three weeks in the saddle reaches a boiling point.