The abbreviated stage brings a sprint over the mountains and a duel on the final climb, but there is no reversal in the classification
For the second time in the Tour of Italy this year, the difficult mountain stage did not make the expected draw in the general classification. Just like in the seventh stage of the Gran Sasso, the top of the standings crossed the finish line in Swiss Crans Montana on Friday in unison. The stage was won by Colombian Ayner Rubio of Movistar, after an exciting battle with two fellow refugees.
Behind the trio, there was kilometer after kilometer of the final climb waiting for someone to change the order. This was expected in advance, although the mountain stage was modified twice.
First, the top of Gran San Bernardo was removed from the road. Because at about 2,500 meters – also the highest point of this Giro – there was still a lot of snow.
Attractive viewing game
On Friday it turned out that the weather was really bad on the mountain pass and the Giro organization decided to completely remove the climb from the podium and shorten it to 74 kilometers through Switzerland. According to Adam Hansen of the Cyclists’ Association CPA, this was at the request of 90 percent of riders.
After nearly 130km of being scrapped, the stage has turned into an enticing spectator game, at least when it comes to stage wins. The start was moved to the foot of the widely feared Croix de Coeur, a 15.4 kilometer climb, with an average grade of 8.8 percent. Immediately here and there riders attacked, including stage winner Rubio.
The fear of the climb that set in immediately was dictated not so much by numbers as by the first five kilometers of descent. They traveled over very bad road surfaces: recently poured asphalt – quickly, quickly – on an unpaved road. The patching was also slippery due to the melting snow and rain, making it difficult to wear extra clothes for the “cold” descent after the “warm” climb.
It turned out that none of this escaped any rider’s attention, and after the crest of the Croix de Coeur, they rode en masse with great care onto the better road surfaces. No one dared to take advantage of this wisdom. The danger was too great for the rider to crash and slip off the road into the valley.
About 20 kilometers after the descent, the final climb began to Crans-Montana, where, under good weather conditions and on impeccable asphalt, a battle should have ensued between the teams for the top three places in the general classification: Ineos, Rosette’s jersey wearer, Geraint Thomas, Jumbo -Visma of Primoz Roglic who was behind Thomas and the UAE team of Portugal’s Joao Almeida at the start, 20 seconds behind Roglic.
This climb with teammates often turns into a game: which favorite will you keep your “dummies” with him the longest to achieve overall victory? The Jumbo-Visma group made the strongest impression, with five men in yellow and black in the leading group.
Ineos had two riders for Thomas: Belgian Laurens de Plus and Dutch talent Thymen Arensman, who has been riding well throughout the Giro and has a solid third week on both legs. Almeida had to do it alone with his American teammate Brandon McNulty.
If the intent of the three teams was to maintain the status quo, then they succeeded even more. Nothing has changed in the top three, not even a single second.
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