A Brit is in pink at the Giro d’Italia — not the one we expected though. While Chris Froome (Sky) has flailed through the first nine stages of racing, his compatriot Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) has flown into the overall lead with some brilliant rides on the summit finishes. What is the game plan for those two in the second half of the race, and which dangerous climbers should be marked on the brutal stage 14 to Mount Etna? Let’s roundtable!
Pretend you’re Team Sky’s DS — what’s the plan to get Chris Froome back in contention at the Giro d’Italia?
Fred Dreier @freddreier: Froome needs to pray that the Yates, Chaves, and Pozzovivo simply lack the endurance to have such strong legs during the third week of a grand tour. Froome’s only hopes involve week three. He needs to attack often on stages 18, 19, and especially 20. The stage to Cervinia includes three massive climbs that come in succession. Here’s the plan: Have Sky stomp on the peloton on the first climb and then spring Froome free for climbs No. 2 and 3.
Spencer Powlison @spino_powerlegs: Call up the bank (I assume it is Swiss), make sure that the (reportedly) 2 million euro start fee has cleared, and then get the heck out of Italy. This argument that Froome is waiting to peak later in the Giro is bogus. He looks awful. His team is unable to nurse him through days like stage 9, which would ordinarily be no problem for Sky. It’s time to cut bait and prepare for the Tour de France. Maybe Sergio Henao has a chance of doing something in the Giro GC.
Andrew Hood @eurohoody: Don’t panic. The key now is to stop the bleeding before you can recover ground. Keep Froome in the fight without losing time. Then put him in position to try to attack to regain the initiative. And then start sacrificing chickens and hope he takes three minutes on everyone in the Trentino time trial. The final stages in week three should play into their favor.
Dane Cash @danecash: Froome needs to stay safe at the front of the pack and then get aggressive as soon as he’s feeling healthy. There’s still plenty of racing left at the Giro. If Froome ever rights the ship physically, he’ll have opportunities to claw back time.
The individual time trial is a week away. How much time does Yates need to fend off Dumoulin, and where should he attack to gain it?
Fred: Let’s do some math. Yates lost 20 seconds to Dumoulin in the opening 9km time trial. The final TT is 34.2 km in length. So Yates will need about 75 total seconds over Dumoulin if he wants to hold on. Right now his margin is 38 seconds. So he’s past halfway! Yates needs to gobble up at least 36 (let’s say 40) seconds in the next few stages if he wants a realistic shot over Tom D.
Spencer: I like Yates’s chances on Zoncolon, stage 14. If he wants to keep pink after the time trial the following Monday, the Brit should take about a minute on Dumoulin, just to be safe. The thing is, he doesn’t need to have pink after the time trial, and it would be better if he didn’t. Sure, Yates should keep Dumoulin in sight going into the final three mountain stages (let’s say 30 seconds or so). Wouldn’t it be better to make Sunweb fight to control the race though? With a bit of free reign, the Mitchelton-Scott team can harry Dumoulin all the way to Rome. That one-two punch of Yates and Chaves sure worked well on the Mount Etna stage, after all.
Andrew: Yates needs to keep attacking every time the road goes up. Yates won’t be able to sleep easy until he has three minutes and some change in his pocket. Mitchelton-Scott looks stronger than Sunweb right now, so the team needs to use that its advantage to try to isolate Dumoulin, and then send Chaves and Yates on the attack.
Dane: Yates probably needs two and a half minutes, or three to be safe. That means attacking anywhere and everywhere. It’s not just Dumoulin though. Pinot has a decent time trial and is not far off.
A lot of great climbers are within one minute of Yates on GC. Who is the biggest threat when we take on Monte Zoncolan in stage 14 and why?
Fred: Ciccone and Pozzovivo are looking especially strong on the climbs, even if their climbing tactics are somewhat suspect. My money is on Richard Carapaz, who looked extremely comfortable while winning the uphill stage on Saturday. He’s far enough down on GC (1:20) that Yates may give him a small leash.
Spencer: Thibaut Pinot may not be straight out of central casting for a pure Giro climber, but he is a real threat, and it seems like his form is improving. Honorable mention goes to Miguel Angel Lopez, who had some bad luck in the first week. Maybe he won’t be the biggest GC threat in the final selection on stage 14, but his attacks could be a launchpad for other challengers.
Andrew: Pinot. Of all the other major GC threats, he’s the one with most reliable track record in grand tours. He has the tank to go the distance over three weeks. The time trial will be his handicap against Froome and Dumoulin, but he should be able to match Yates. He needs a big win and some time bonuses to jump back into pink jersey range.
Dane: At least in the GC department, it’s got to be Pinot. He’s in a really good place right now at the Giro. In the back of his mind, though, Yates may be thinking about his own teammate, Esteban Chaves … They’re close enough of GC that it wouldn’t take much for a handover of the jersey in the mountains.