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Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia stage 14 preview: GC contenders brace for ‘brutal’ Turin test

Hot and humid weather set to make for a tough stage that could see some GC contenders lose time.

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After four days of rolling terrain, the Giro d’Italia steps it up a notch this weekend starting with a tricky mountainous route around Turin.

The saw blade parcours is an appetizer for what is to come as the race moves into the high mountains, but the 150-kilometer route is not to be underestimated. Few expect big changes in the overall standings by the end of the day, but it could catch some top GC favorites out if they’re not careful.

Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) still holds the pink jersey of race leader after storming into it on Mount Etna in the first week. However, his days at the top look numbered and the 12 seconds he holds as an advantage could disappear very quickly should the GC battle light up.

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BikeExchange-Jayco sport director Matt White, whose team is now out of the title fight after Simon Yates lost time on Blockhaus in the first week, believes that Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) will be one to watch. Should the 2019 Giro d’Italia champion choose to try and make a jersey grab, it could change the complexion of the stage.

“There’s a lot more time to be made on Sunday (stage 15) and Tuesday (stage 16) and many more days to come,” White told VeloNews. “It might be a GC day for a couple of guys who won’t be there in the end. Guys like Carapaz are always dangerous and the normal script that cycling has, he usually rips that up.

“If people aren’t wary of that then they aren’t aware of what he’s done in the past. It’s not a battle that we have to worry about anymore, but if he’s looking to get the pink jersey going into the first of the big mountains up north, but maybe he might try something. One thing is for sure is going to be a tough one.”

(Photo: RCS Sport)

Starting in Santena to the south of Turin, the route will wind its way northeast before taking a turn south and heading into the city. The course is marked by two laps of a circuit around Turin, which begins after 64 kilometers and takes in two tough climbs on each go around.

The first of the two climbs is the Superga, which will be familiar to anyone who has watched the one-day Milan-Turin race. While it was cut out of the parcours for the race this year it is usually the decisive ascent in the race, featuring twice in the last 30 kilometers.

It is short at only five kilometers long, but it packs a big punch with an average gradient of 8 percent and a maximum of 14. The second ascent is the lesser-known Colle della Maddalena, which is far shorter at just over three kilometers, but it hits gradients of up to 20 percent.

‘It will be a full GC fight’

Unlike Matt White, Team DSM coach Matt Winston believes that the course could see some decent time gaps on it, with an almost constantly twisting route making it just that bit harder. He adds that there is a threat of rain at some point during the stage, which could throw an extra difficulty factor if it materializes.

“It’s going to be a really hard stage with lots of steep climbs. I think it’ll be a really open race. I think it’ll be a full GC fight,” Winston told VeloNews. “I think the weather could play a part. There are some showers predicted and it could play a part on an inner-city circuit like that you could see some pretty big time gaps. I think positioning will be very important on that circuit.”

Winston has also lost his main GC man with Romain Bardet abandoning the Giro with stomach problems during stage 13.

Bardet had been sitting in fourth place overall and his departure will no doubt have an impact on the fight for pink, but it’s still tightly packed at the top with seven riders inside a minute of each other.

Even if the rain doesn’t come, the weather is still bound to play a role in the stage with high temperatures predicted once again. It’s due to hit about 86 degrees (30 centigrade) at the start and it will be in the 90s by the time the riders come across the line.

Usually, the Giro d’Italia is the coldest of the three grand tours with rain and snow impacting the race, but it has been a super-hot affair so far with high temperatures all the way around. Many have likened it to a summer Giro or akin to riding the Tour de France.

The heat is not expected to relent any time soon and it is going to start taking its toll on the peloton.

“It’s going to be brutal, especially with the temperatures that they’re predicting. Also, in Turin there, it’s going to be really humid,” White told VeloNews.

“Another day there with hot weather, and then we go into some really serious mountains. On the short-range forecast, it looks like a really warm weekend, even in the high mountains. Things will cool off a little bit when we get into the high mountains, for sure, but I don’t remember a Giro this hot for a long time.”

The Giro d’Italia has been good for the breakaways so far this year with four making it all the way to the line, and a fifth almost getting there Friday only to be caught by the sprinters with just 600 meters to go.

Stage 14 from Santena to Turin could be another big-ticket day for the break, but it’s not a foregone conclusion.

“It depends on the composition of the breakaway when it goes. A small breakaway will be pretty easy to bring back, just because of the brutality of the circuit and the temperatures,” White said. “It also depends on the reaction of the GC guys. If the GC guys sit tight and want to save their energy in the heat ahead of Sunday, and the break is big, then there’s no chance of bring it back.

There are so many scenarios that tomorrow could go, but the weather conditions and the GC battle will play a factor.”