The 14th stage to Corvara covers six categorised climbs, most over 2000 metres, including the 9.85km Passo Giau.
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Bob Jungels (Etixx–Quick-Step) leads the overall by 24 seconds on Andrey Amador (Movistar), 1-07 on Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), 1-09 on Italian 2013 winner Nibali, 2-01 on Rafal Majka (Tinkoff), 2-25 on Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha), and 2-43 on Colombian Chaves.
“All journalists want to know about the future, but I just have to get through today,” Chaves said ahead of the rain-soaked 12th stage.
“It’s raining and it’s risky. That’s also the beauty of the Giro, anything can happen. It’s a difficult weekend ahead, but after the weekend, it’s a difficult week. I’m going to keep calm, with my feet on the ground.”
Insiders say that the five-foot-three Chaves, around 54kg, could benefit the most in the Dolomites because he grew up in Colombia and because of his size.
“Chaves, he’s raced differently this year, calmer and more with an eye on the classification,” BMC Racing sports director, Fabio Baldato said.
“He’s going to be the surprise. The high amount of climbing metres will make a difference, he can save more than the others can on that stage. OK, also Nibali. Valverde will watch Nibali because he likes short and explosive stages, like Friday’s. Saturday’s stage is one for a climber with resistance, Chaves or Nibali.”
Chaves won two stages in the Vuelta a España last year and placed fifth overall. Nibali has much more experience. He won the Vuelta in 2010, and went on to win the 2013 Giro and the 2014 Tour de France.
“He and Nibali will make the difference on the climbs,” Astana team manager, Giuseppe Martinelli said.
“The stage suits a true climber, there are many climbs and the Passo Giau. If you are not a climber, you can’t make it. It’s the fifth climb in one of the Giro’s big stages. We haven’t seen a big Dolomite stage like this in some years.
“There won’t be a big attack from far out, they will wait until the second-last or even the last climb to attack. I hope to distance Valverde on that day, he’s dangerous. I hope to have a great Nibali that day to distance him.”
“I think that Kruijswijk, Chaves and Majka are the pure climbers. Those three,” Movistar’s team manager, Eusebio Unzué added.
“Rigoberto Urán is always there, some times better, sometimes worse than the others. Then Zakarin. But pay attention to Chaves, he could be last year’s Mikel Landa of the Giro.”
“Valverde, he’s always there and looks to be riding with ease,” Kruijswijk said. “He’s the man to watch. I don’t know how Nibali and Chaves will go, but they climb well. They are the obvious ones, you saw them in the front on Wednesday, you’ll see them in the front again.”