23/05 - Stage 14 (ITT) - Treviso to Valdobbiadene - 59.4 km

The route
Today, we will see the first big time gaps between the contenders for the general classification. This is one of the most challenging stages of the this year’s Giro d’Italia.

As you can see on the profile, the first 30 km are completely flat. It’s almost straight-out all the way from the start in Treviso. On this long part, it’s all about being as aerodynamic as possible pushing as big of a gear as you can possibly do. The time trial specialists will be able to put a huge margin into the pure climbers on these 30 km. However, it’s also very important not to go too hard at the beginning. You really need to balance your effort perfectly in order to do well today.

In Bagnolo, the stage changes characteristics completely. The following 5 km are uphill. The steepest part are the first 3 km with an average of 6 % and max of 9 %. In San Pietro di Feletto, the riders pass the second intermediate checkpoint. Unlike the first time check in Ponte della Priula (after 17.6 km), we should now begin to see who the top favorites for the stage win are.

From the top, there is a short downhill section before the road kicks up again for about a kilometer. After the descent, the following 10 km are pretty much flat towards the last intermediate checkpoint in Col San Martino after 49.5 km on the bike. A few kilometers later, the riders turn left. From here on, the last 7.6 km are constantly up and down.

The finish
The first 2 km towards Guia are uphill with an average gradient of 5-6 %. The maximum gradients of 10 % comes just before reaching the town. Here, there is a part of false flat before the riders take on the penultimate ascent of the day. In a picturesque landscape, on a road in between the vineyards, the riders reach the top in San Pietro Barbozza with about 3 km to go. The descent is fast but does include a few difficult passages. There is a sharp 90° left-hand turn with 750 meters to go followed by two right-hand corners before the last 400 meters are uphill with an average gradient 5.5 % towards the finishing line.

The weather forecast predicts another rainy day in the Giro. If so, the descents will be very slippery and thereby very dangerous. Even though the top GC contenders will have to give it their all today, they can’t afford to take any unnecessary risks if the roads are wet. There is still a long way to Milano.

The favorites
Before this Giro started, Richie Porte was set to be the top favorite for this time trial. The Tasmanian was hoping to take maglia rosa today, putting minutes into his rivals. Just a few days ago, Porte looked like the top favorite for the overall win. However, after an illegal wheel-change on stage 10 and getting caught up in the big crash on stage 13, Porte is now over 5 minutes behind Fabio Aru. It will be very interesting to see how he bounces back, mentally, after such a huge blow. Porte has looked extremely strong so far. On the longer climbs, it has even seemed like he was holding back a little. Today’s time trial suits him perfectly. He will be able to keep a high pace on the flat part and still go very hard on the climbs. For Richie Porte it’s all a mental game right now. The Giro d’Italia is his biggest goal of the season. This is what he has been thinking about on every training ride. Hopefully, he can keep his cool and use all his frustration as fuel to clock a great time and get back in contention for the overall podium. This is a contract year for Richie Porte. If he wants to get a chance of riding the Tour de France as team leader anytime soon, he needs to prove that he’s capable of performing well in a GT over three weeks. It won’t be easy to make it onto the podium in Milano but he simply can’t afford to give up.

Rigoberto Uran had a very bad start to the Giro, suffering from a bronchitis. However, the strong Colombian hasn’t lost too much time despite a few difficult days in the mountains. He’s only 2:02 min behind Fabio Aru and 1:43 min behind Alberto Contador. This time trial is very different from the one Uran won last year. Still, it suits him very well. On his best days, the Etixx captain should be able to take back those two minutes on Aru, putting him right back in the fight for the overall win. Earlier this year, Rigoberto Uran won the Colombian national time trial championship. He’s now very eager to show off his Colombian jersey on the big scene. If everything works out, he may even change it for a pink one. It will be extremely difficult though.

Despite two crashes, Alberto Contador is still one of the main candidates for the win today. However, it does require an excellent performance today. In the past, Contador has beaten the world’s best time trialists against the clock. Unfortunately for the Spaniard, he has to change his position on the bike due to his dislocated shoulder. This means his position won’t be as aerodynamic as planned. Had the final climbs been steeper, this wouldn’t have had a big impact. However, according to Contador himself, he only spent 1 minute out of the saddle when he did a reconnaissance ride earlier this year. The riders will probably be on the bike for one hour and 15-20 minutes, meaning the position on the bike is of huge importance. It would be extremely foolish to underestimate even an injured Alberto Contador, but it will be very difficult for him to win this stage if his shoulder really prevents him from keeping an ideal position on the bike.

The outsiders
GC contenders like Dario Cataldo, Damiano Caruso, Andrey Amador, Giovanni Visconti, Leo König and Jurgen van den Broeck are all capable of clocking a great time today. Especially Cataldo will be interesting to follow. He’s a much better time trialist than his captain Fabio Aru. It won’t be a big surprise if Cataldo is the best-placed Astana rider after today’s stage. Last year, Aru nearly lost three minutes to Uran in the long time trial. Since then, he has worked hard on his ITT bike in order to be able to fight for the overall Giro this year. The whole Astana team is obviously extremely strong right now. I seriously doubt Aru will be able to keep the pink jersey today but this Giro has proven that anything is possible, especially on wet roads!

For other strong candidates for a top result today, look to Sylvain Chavanel, Stef Clement, Ion Izagirre, Luke Durbridge, Patrick Gretsch, Tobias Ludvigsson, Vasil Kiryienka, Michael Rogers and Astana riders like Luis León Sanchez and especially Tanel Kangert who seems to be in outstanding shape right now.

Ilnur Zakarin was in a rare league of his own in Tour of Romandie earlier this month. The Russian dropped grand tour winners like Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana uphill and matched multiple ITT world champion Tony Martin against the clock. In Imola on stage 11, Zakarin proved that he’s still unbelievably strong. Don’t be surprised if ends up fighting for the win again today.

For live coverage of the stage, go to steephill.tv. To see the full starting order, click here.

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