Cycling Weekly will keep you up to date as the Giro d’Italia enters the mountains. Stage 13 had been designed as one of the toughest days of the race, but has been shortened due to the foul weather. Still, the Crans-Montana mountain top finish remains, so could yet see fireworks.
The stage is now only 74.6km long and due to commence at 14:00 BST, from the foot of the Croix de Coeur La Châble, which will be the first of the day's two climbs.
10-08: Start delayed due to weather
10-33: Arturo Grávalos passes away
10-43: Sick Pedersen leaves race
12-04: Evenepoel's new season plan
14-00: The stage finally begins
14-48: Pinot first over the Croix de Coeur from a four-man breakaway
START DELAYED AND ROUTE REVISED DUE TO WEATHER
The unfortunate news at the start of the day is that stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia has been significantly shortened.
The Colle del Gran San Bernardo has been taken out of the route, and the start moved from Borgofranco d’Ivrea to the bottom of the Croix de Coeur in Switzerland.
That means the stage will be cut from the planned 199km, to around just 80km.
The decision was made due to the very bad weather that continues to affect the Giro, with the high pass and descent of Gran San Bernardo deemed too dangerous.
The Gran San Bernardo, which was supposed to be the Cima Coppi as the highest point of the race, was already due to be shortened slightly due to snow.
There was some speculation this morning that the stage might not go ahead at all, but the riders are now due to start from the neutralised zone shortly after 10pm.
After that, they will take team buses to the new location of the official start at 13:24.
From then, all being well, we’ll have some racing to report.
The riders are currently standing waiting in the rain at the unofficial start. You do have to wonder whether going ahead with the neutralised start really is necessary, as once they’ve ridden a couple of hundred metres they’ll hop back off and head immediately back to the team buses to be driven to the new official start at the bottom of the Croix de Coeur. Most are being sheltered under umbrellas and looking very cold. The quirks of professional cycling, eh?
That’s that done then. The riders are dismounting and scrambling to get back into the shelter and warmth of their team buses.
They’ll make their way to the new start, and resume the real racing in about three hours. In the meantime, we’ll update you with what else is going on in the world of cycling.
ARTURO GRAVALOS PASSES AWAY
Unfortunately, there’s some sad news to report first. The EOLO-Kometa rider Arturo Grávalos has passed away.
The 25-year-old had been diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2021. Despite having initial success in surgery, several more were required in order to try to remove the tumour.
The Spaniard joined the team as an under-23 rider in 2019, and was riding for the senior team before the conditon brought his career to an abrupt hault.
His EOLO-Kometa team stated that “Life put many obstacles in front of him in recent years, and he always, always, reacted with the best of his face, overcoming them with the greatest of positivism.
“Armed with his huge smile, his closeness and his frankness, he was all about building, supporting, praising and thanking. We will never forget you, Arturo. Rest in peace.”
PEDERSEN ABANDONS THE RACE
There is one non-starter to report today, and it’s a big one: Mads Pedersen.
The Dane has pulled out of the race having been suffering with sickness. It’s been confirmed that it’s not the Covid bus that has swept through the peloton this Giro, but another illness, which he and his Trek-Segafredo team have deemed as making it impossible to continue racing.
Pedersen has enjoyed a successful race, winning stage six in Napoli, as well as
As recently as yesterday he looked in good knick, managing to get into the breakaway that formed at the start of stage 12.
He had also been second in the points classification, and had designs on winning that competition, but will now head home instead and recoup ahead of his ext major goal of the season, the Tour de France.
His withdrawal means that Jonathan Milan now has a convincing lead of 76 points ahead of the next next place rider, Pascal Ackermann.
The shortened stage might seem to make Geraint Thomas’ defence of the pink jersey and easier task today, but there are plenty of complications on a short, intense day as this one has been resigned as.
Talking before the stage after the news of the shortened day had broken, Thomas explained what had happened.
“There was a big chat last night with the CPA [Cyclistes Professionnels Associés], and all the teams voted on what they wanted to do. To be honest, I think it’s a good decision. It’s still going to be a super-hard stage, it just means we’re not in this cold, wet weather for even longer.
“We’ve seen so many guys go home with sickness, a few injuries, but mainly just, like, sick. So if we want to get to Rome with at least 50 guys, it’s a good decision I think. It’s still going to be hard racing. So I think it’s a decent compromise.”
“If anything, it makes it tougher. Starting on this second climb [Croix de Coeur] it’s a tough climb. We start right at the bottom, there’s no warming up. It’s going to be super-hard, lots of attacks straight away. For us [at Ineos], we’re just going to have to keep it simple, keep doing what we’re doing, keep communicating well, and try and control that first climb. It’s 45km to the finish from the top, so it’s going to be short and fast I think.
“We’ll see how the race goes. We’re not going to bust a gut to bring them [the break] back and make the winner come from the group, but it’s the first big mountain stage, and generally you’d say normally the GC teams’ guys fight it out for the stage. Normally there’s a team that wants to bring it back, we’re fully expecting that. Expect for the worst, hope for the best.”
“It’s a shame the weather’s been like it has. But I’m feeling alright, and looking forward to a tough day.
And now, as Sean Kelly would say, we play the waiting game, before the race's new official start-time of 13:30 BST
Here's what the revised route looks like. The stage has effectively been cut in half, with two of the planned three climbs still going ahead.
It looks likely to be short and intense, and hard to control with so few kilometres that aren't either ascending or descending. It’s obviously disappointing to see the organisers forced to make a change, but this could still be a thriller.
So what will the weather be like once the riders do set off?
Our very own Adam Beckett is in Verbier, part of the Croix de Coeur climb, and reports that it’s not currently raining.
That makes for a stark contrast to the planned start in Borgofranco d’Ivrea a few hours ago, where the riders were soaked just from riding a few minutes in the neutralised zone.
Although the stage has been shortened, they will still have to take on the potentially hazardous descent of the Croix de Coeur. The riders will be praying the rain holds off and the roads have more time to dry in the next few hours.
EVENEPOEL RULES OUT VUELTA, BUT TOUR OF BRITAIN A POSSIBILITY
lsewhere, Patrick Lefevere has provided an update as to what Remco Evenepoel’s plans for the rest of the season might be.
The Belgian had spent months preparing specifically for the Giro d’Italia, and got off to a great start with two stage wins in the first week, but was forced to abandon on Sunday due to a Covid positive, having just reclaimed the pink jersey.
Evenepoel was in touch with Lefevere a few days on the phone, according to Het Nieuwsblad, and the Soudal-QuickStep manager said that Evenepoel has now tested negative for Covid.
Another Grand Tour seems unlikely for the Belgian this season. Having already ruled out the Tour de France, Lefevere today said that they feel no need to ride the Vuelta either having already won the race last year.
Instead, Evenepoel looks set to focus on stage races and classics instead. The Critérium du Dauphiné was mentioned by Lefevere as a possible target, as were defences of his titles at the classics San Sebastian and Il Lombardia.
And could we be seeing the world champion on British roads? The Tour of Britain in September was also mentioned among his potential participants.
Most of the riders asked at the Giro about the decision to shorten the stage have been in agreement that it was the right thing to do, but there have been some dissenters.
Earlier, when rumours were circulating that the race would start at the foot of the Croix de Coeur, Bahrain-Victorious’ Jack Haig pointed out what he saw as floored logic to the new route.
“I don’t fully agree. One of the main reasons that we didn’t want to do the middle climb [Croix de Coeur] was because the road surface on the downhill was potentially dangerous, and that we wouldn’t have time to put clothes on. And now we’re starting at the bottom of the climb, where we’re going to race full, and get very hot, so not need very many clothes. Then doing the downhill, with guys potentially racing back to groups they’ve been dropped from on a downhill that we’ve discussed is dangerous. So I don’t really understand the compromise.
Gianni Moscon also objected, but for more general reasons. Speaking to RCS, the Italian said that though it was true the weather was bad, he believed that it could have been raced — and that anyone who didn’t want to race had the option of abandonning.
To provide clarity from the riders' perspective, the weather conditions experienced during this year's Giro have been among the most intense. In response, the riders held a vote last night to invoke the extreme weather protocol. According to the regulations, which outline…May 19, 2023
Here's president of the CPA Adam Hansen with a more details explanation as to why the decision was made
The riders are travelling to the new official start via their team buses. Just half an hour to go before the stage gets going and we'll have some racing action to report!
The Giro isn’t the only race taking place today — the second stage of the women’s Vuelta a Burgos is already underway, as is the fourth stage of the men’s 4 Days of Dunkirk. There’s excitement in the former, too, with wind blowing and echelons forming. One of the top contenders for the GC, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, is caught in a group behind the reduced peloton. We’ll keep you updated with what happens.
So, the official details of the stage are: it will start at La Châble at 13:30 BST, will be only 74.6km long, and, as planned, finish at the Crans Montana summit.
Update: the start has been delayed by another half hour. Rather than start at 13:30 BST, it will now be 14:00. Some team buses are still making their way to the new start, and riders will need time on the rollers to warm up properly.
Crucially, it is still dry, which should mean the riders are willing to race hard and that the roads are relatively safe. But this has been a seriously compromised start, which must be a stressful time for the riders. Will they have time to warm up properly? This could be a very intense start given the shortest of the stage and the fact it's uphill from the off, so anyone insufficiently ready could be in trouble.
It is true, the riders wanted to start at the start like original and ride the full course and miss Croix De Coeur as that was the moment of rain combined with the coldest temps at the time of the voting. We were told not to decide the morning of the race, so the decision was… https://t.co/XEVu6Bqo9mMay 19, 2023
More from CPA president Adam Hansen
Just fifteen minutes now until the start. There’s going to be another neutralised zone of 600 metres before the official start, which could be hectic as riders vie for position before they start climbing the Croix de Coeur.
From Adam Hansen’s comments it seems the riders’ main concern was the Croix de Coeur and its potentially dangerous descent, and that the removal instead of the first half of the stage was a compromise offered by RCS. The Croix de Coeur remains, and should be safer considering the dry conditions, but still does look a little lairy.
The riders are off! They're in the new neutralised zone and about to start racing. This is going t be interesting...
Attacks are flying from the off as riders try to get into the breakaway. It looks like it’ll be a very hard one for the break to survive given the shortness of the stage and difficulty of the climbs, but several are trying anyway.
Karel Vacek was the first, but is now off the back of the peloton after his chain snapped.
Given how much their preparations were compromised and how the race immediately starts climbing the Croix de Coeur, not to mention all the illnesses circulating the peloton, some riders could get caught out early on.
So far it’s mostly just the usual suspects off the back of the peloton, like sprinters Pascal Ackermann, Jonathan Milan and Fernando Gaviria, but there might be some GC names worrying.
EF Education-EasyPost’s Jefferson Alexander Cepeda is currently out in front alone, with a large chase group just a handful of seconds behind, followed closely by the peloton.
Now Groupama-FDJ are making a move, with a domestique pacing Thibaut Pinot on his wheel. They’re accompanied by about another ten riders, Hugh Carthy among them. This group is now at the front.
70km to go: As well as Cepeda and Carthy, EF also have Ben Healy in this group, and he's setting the pace. This is an interesting move for the team, as Carthy is still up there on GC, in twelth at 3-22.
69km to go: Ineos Grenadiers weren't happy with that group, and have shut it down.
68km to go: We have a GC rider out the back: Jack Haig. He is eleventh overall at 2-58 on the overall classification, but did go down in a crash yesterday.
68km to go: Cepeda is back out in front on his own, after he attacked again once Ineos shut down the bigger move.
67km to go: Six more riders have joined Cepeda at the front, including Pinot again. The Frenchman appears to be after more points in the KOM, seeing as he is currently second in that classification. But will he be allowed much leeway considering his GC credentials, and the fact he is still only 4-48 down?
66km to go: That lead group in full: Cepeda, Pinot, Valentin Paret-Paintre, Bruno Armirail, Derek Gee and Matthew Riccitello.They’ve got a promising lead of 30 seconds over the peloton.
65km to go: The composition of that group is changing as the road continues uphill - Pinot’s teammate Armirail has been dropped while Einer Rubio has bridged up. Rubio also went over the intermediate sprint first to take three bonus seconds.
64km to go: Ineos Grenadiers are setting a tempo, but are allowing the breakaway group a bit of a gap. It’s up to one minute.
63km to go: Pinot is at the front of the group now and has upped the pace. Only Gee, Rubio and Cepeda are able to follow.
62km to go: Bahrain-Victorious have taken over from Ineos in the peloton. Santiago Buitrago is setting a pace with team leader Damiano Caruso in tow. The gap is now 1-30.
61km to go: That was a short-lived effort by Bahrain, and it’s Ineos who are back on the front. Not long now till the summit.
60km to go: Rain jackets are being adorned en masse as we approach the summit and subsequent descent. This is the downhill the riders were worried about, so fingers crossed everyone stays safe.
59km to go: Pinot reaches the top first to take the maximum KOM points, ahead of Rubio. The peloton still has about two minutes left to climb.
57km to go: The leaders haven't had any problems so far on the descent, but the rain is starting to fall steadily now, and it certainly looks like a dodgy one.
53km to go: Valentin Paret Peintre has descended his way back into the lead group. He’s descending much quicker than the rest, and has made his way to the front of the group and is opening a gap.
This descent is scaring the hell out of me and I’m several hundred km away and riding a sofa. #GirodItaliaMay 19, 2023
47km to go: The riders have now reached the wider, less scary part of the descent. Paret-Paintre is back with the other breakaway riders, and their lead is now over three minutes.
36km to go: Almost four minutes now for the break. Ben Swift is leading the peloton as they approach the valley road, having dug very deep to stay in contention on the climb, and return to the peloton on the descent.
VOLLERING WINS BURGOS STAGE TWO AFTER WIEBES RELEGATED
Over in Spain, Lorena Wiebes thought she had won the second stage of the Vuelta a Burgos when she won an uphill sprint from a small group. However, she was relegated from first to third, after she made contact with Chloe Dygert in the final few metres.
Thankfully for SD Worx, her teammate Demi Vollering was second over the line ahead of Dygert, meaning the Dutch team still make it two wins from two.
The victory continues Vollering’s stunning season, in which she has already won ten races.
Those three riders opened up a gap over the rest of the peloton on that uphill finish. Tamara Dronova-Balabolina was next to the line in fourth at 7 seconds ahead of Elisa Balsamo, while the rest of the riders came in ones and twos behind.
Yesterday;’s winner Wiebes still retains the overall lead, four seconds ahead of Dygert and Vollering.
30km to go: Back to the Giro - Ineos are keeping the gap beneath four minutes on the valley road leading up to the final climb. The lead group will want as much time as possible before starting that climb to give themselves a chance of a stage win.
21km to go: The presence of Pinot in this group appears to be concerning Ineos. They are going quickly on this valley, surely aware that the Frenchman is still an outside GC contender at 4-48. With the gap now at 3-24, he is now up to fifth on the virtual overall classification.
KOOIJ SPRINTS TO VICTORY AT FOUR DAYS OF DUNKIRK
Another race result in: Olav Kooij has won a bunch sprint ahead of Intermarché-Circus-Wanty's Gerben Thijssen and Team Flanders-Baloise’s Milan Frentin.
The 21-year-old repeated his opening day victory with another sprint win, his third of the season so far.
He led the sprint from the front, and there was nothing Thijssen or anyone else could do to come past his wheel on the finishing straight.
There was a change in the overall classification, with Kasper Asgreen taking the overall lead from Benjamin Thomas, after Thomas failed to finish in the peloton.
Contrary to what the name of the race suggests, there are still two more stages to be raced.
14km to go: Cohesion is breaking down in the lead group. The riders are gesticulating towards each other and not working together as they were earlier. They’re in danger of letting their stage win dreams fade on this valley road, with their lead down to under three minutes.
13km to go: The breakaway group is on the climb! You suspect Pinot will want to drop the others ASAP, given how frustrated he's grown at their lack of help.
12km to go: Here’s the inevitable Pinot attack! He’s left three of the others for dust, but Cepeda - the rider he was especially annoyed at for not helping - is on his wheel.
11km to go: Rubio has now dragged his way back to Pinot and Cepeda. Pinot tried to attack as soon as he did, but the trio are still together. They have 2-40 on the peloton, which is being led by Ineos’ Ben Swift.
Here's a glimpse from earlier, of a particularly scary section of the descent of the Croix de Coeur that caused such anxiety in the peloton. Thankfully there were no crashes.
9km: Pinot is riled. He’s putting in multiple attacks, but Cepeda keeps coming back, much to his frustration.
9km to go: Things are much calmer in the peloton, where Swift is still setting the pace and no attacks have been made
pic.twitter.com/huiSXKmPtUMay 19, 2023
Here's Pinot castigating Cepeda
8km to go: Just as Rubio makes it up to Pinot and Cepeda again, Pinot attacks yet again. He's got a few seconds, but it looks like the pattern might repeat again with Cepeda dragging him back.
7km to go: There's been an attack from the peloton, but not by one of the GC threats. It’s Lorenzo Fortunato, who is 26th at 15-56.
6.5km to go: Cepeda and Rubio are back with Pinot. Try as he might, the Frenchman just can’t shed him.
6km to go: You can probably predict this update: Pinot has attacked again, and Cepeda and Rubio have hauled themselves back to him again. All this acrimony at the front no longer seems to be harming their chances of holding off the peloton, however - their gap is currently 3-12.
5.5km to go: At last there’s a move of interest from the peloton in terms of the GC race. Hugh Carthy has attacked, and has a few seconds. He’s twelfth overall at 3-22.
5km to go: And just after Carthy attacks, his EF teammate Cepeda also makes a move - and he has a gap! Neither Pinot nor Rubio can follow.
4km to go: Pinot looked in serious trouble there, but he's got himself together and made it back to Cepeda. Rubio's not far behind either. Looks like this one could go down to the wire between the three.
3.5km to go: Meanwhile Carthy is up to Fortunato, and the two are working together. Still no moves from any of the major GC players though.
2.5km to go: Carthy ad Fortunato are 20 seconds ahead of the peloton, which is being led by Ineos' Pavel Sivakov.
2km to go: Cepeda attacks again, but can't get a gap this time. This is looking increasingly like it's going to be a three-up sprint.
2km to go: Carthy has now dropped Fortunato.
1km to go: Finally some action in the GC group as Bahrain-Victorious takeover from Ineos. And now Caruso attacks!
1km to go: Pinot is tightening is shoes as the sprint nears.
Rubio counters...and wins!
EINER RUBIO WINS STAGE 13 OF THE GIRO D'ITALIA
Eddie Dunbar has attacked from the peloton, and is charging after Carthy.
Carthy reaches the line a few seconds ahead of a seven-man chase, featuring Dunbar, Thomas and Roglic.
After such a ding-dong battle between Pinot and Cepeda, of course it was the third wheel, Rubio, who was going to take the stage victory.
Cepeda started his sprint very early in the final kilometre, and did manage to get a gap, before Rubio slowly clawed his way back. For a time after Cepeda was caught and passed, Pinot remained in contention, just a few bikelengths behind, but he ran out of steam before the line.
It's just as well we were treated to some vintage Thibaut Pinot drama, as this stage was a bit of let-down in terms of the GC race. There were small gaps between the seven-man group that made it to the finish featuring Thomas, Roglic and Almeida, but not big ones.
Thanks for tuning in today. Was a dramatic day from start to finish, albeit it for difference reasons, and we got to see plenty of racing despite the compromises.
You can read our full report of the stage here
Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1