All About Tommy D Tomorrow

Dumoulin beats Quintana by 2 minutes tomorrow. Takes a 90 second lead in GC on Quintana. Pinot does well too, may hop over Quintana. I think Nibbles will close his gap to Quintana, but not surpass him. Hopefully and likely Kruijswijk is strong too. Jungels obviously will be. Yates flounders, Mollema and Zakarin solid. Tejay may do decently. Sky boys…I don’t know, they might not care. Jungels is the only one who will hold a candle to Dumoulin tomorrow! Not really seeing any big TTists really popping out at me for the stage win, I’m thinking Jungels and Dumoulin.

Also, random note, why isn’t Fabio Felline in this race, I was already pissed Ulissi wasn’t here, where’s Felline? It’s the 100th Giro and you don’t get the two most animated Italian racers? What the hell?

Advertisements

Thoughts on the First Week

Image result for giro d'italia 2017 stage 3Stage 3 is why we love cycling! I really thought this one was going to be a boring day, but all the teams were aware that this was gonna light up somewhere. With 20k to go all the teams were working so hard to be at the front in case of a split. Finally at 12 or 10k the peloton hit an extremely exposed area and close to the whole Quickstep team got away off the front with a few stragglers! Crosswinds are so fun, because everyone, even principle riders have to do a share of the work. Everyone is gunnin’ it either to press on the advantage or they are frantic while in damage control.

Image result for giro d'italia 2017 echelons overhead

It was pretty sweet to see Andre Greipel haulin’ ass in the pink jersey and hanging on for dear life to that Quickstep group only to pop, then continuing to try to bridge back with Geraint Thomas. And though Iljo Keisse (that brave man who will always be famed for his Tour of Turkey exploits) did a wonderful job, the real MVP that day was Bob Jungels. I swear he was on the front by himself from 4k-1k to go doing all the work to give what Rob Hatch called a “lay-up” of a sprint for Gaviria. And Gaviria delivered. He’s sweet, the only Colombian who’s not a climber, a sprinter of all things, and if he needs to he can get up some mountains! That’s fun, versatile riders are always easy to love!

Watching this really made my day, and I was already having a REALLY good day!

Image result for giro d'italia 2017 stage 4

Stage 4 was a good stage. Kind of what I expected. I actually really wanted to see a Nibali win on home turf. He did try a bit, but he’s clearly saving his powder for the overall and who can blame him? It was funny that Jan Polanc won, because he was pretty doomed from the start of that climb: he was just obligated to keep pushing until he was caught. I figure at parts he must have just been thinking at 8k out “come on, put me out of my misery, let’s go.” And then with still a good gap at 4k he was thinking “Ok, I’ll just keep squeaking out what energy I have!” And it turned out great for him! A GT summit finish win at the 100th Giro!

Since I can now surely say that Stage 9 delivered the goods: it was kind of badass that the favorites like Quintana could just happily let a summit finish end in a reduced bunch sprint, because this Giro route has MUCH more to throw at them!

Image result for giro d'italia 2017 stage 5

Stages 5, 6, and 7 were so sweet. These at the memories I have of the Giro and what makes it such a beautiful race. I found each day pretty compelling racing (at least at the end) and each was truly a neat chapter in the book of the 100th Giro. But that happens at most Grand Tours, everyday has a new story and everyday has a new hero, that is truly what makes the GTs great! Luka Pibernik was quite the character in chapter/Stage 5. But what’s setting the Giro apart?

Image result for giro d'italia 2017 stage 5

The fans and scenery in combination are second to none. Watching Gaviria blaze down that antique boulevard to the roar of the crowd. Every town being decked out in pink. Fans everywhere as the riders go through these scenic towns that are ALIVE because the Giro is here! Look up at the crowd that was there on Mt Etna on a Tuesday afternoon!

Image result for giro d'italia 2017 streets

Kelly and Hatch were saying the crowd was deafening in Messina. Speaking of Messina, the views there, the views, the views, the views! These weaving coastal cliff roads are just spectular, and the helicopter comes around the corner perfectly with the peloton to unveil the next amazing view. All day, all day. And there are other points they are racing through and they go through the ruins of ancient arch that is probably over 1,000 years old and everyone just takes it for granted, because you’re simply going to see something like it in the next town.

Image result for giro d'italia 2017 stage 5 landscapes

Image result for giro d'italia 2017 stage 5 landscapes

Image result for giro d'italia 2017 stage 6

The breaks have been fun and the sprinters have been great. I do not mind at all seeing guys like Dillier and Bob Jungels being the focus of the first stages, I can’t tell you how little of Quintana and Dumoulin I saw those first few days; I almost wondered if they were even really here! As far as the sprinters go: I like seeing them share the spoils, I don’t mind if someone is super dominant, because it’s usually an impressive display of skill and craft, but I like more when I see everyone clashing and doing rounds and rounds of back and forth battle. I’m happy to note Ewan and Gaviria have definitely stepped up to the realEST deal level in grant tours for the rest their careers.

Image result for giro d'italia 2017 stage 7

Image result for giro d'italia 2017 stage 8

Stage 8 is the same deal as before, but this one we finally had some GC consequences, and that finish was really awesome! I loved Mikel Landa’s attack, because that is something you’d only see at the Giro. You wouldn’t see it at the Vuelta, because there’s bigger opportunities the GC are saving themselves to do battle on, and those will take all their strength. And you won’t see it at the Tour, because EVERYONE is way too scared to attack and mess up. I love seeing people taking chances and not feel bad about wasting a bit of energy on an attack. Congrats to Gorka, that was quite a boxing match out there, he was the most conservative and best placed throughout all those blows and took a fine win. And I thought it was mighty impressive how the peloton gobbled up that last climb and almost caught Gorka.

Image result for giro d'italia 2017 stage 9

The motor bike incident on Stage 9 sucked and left a bad taste for all watching, these incidents are way too frequent and they need to stop. I’ll let other media sources bitch about this thoroughly, and I agree with them. All I’ll say is that when Quintana finally definitively broke away from Nibs and Pinot there was one motorcycle in front of him and literally 3 more 2 feet behind him? I get crowd control and TV, but how the hell are there four motorcycles within 5 feet of a guy who only has at most a 15 second gap???

Anyways watching Quintana put people to the sword on climbs is truly one of my favorite parts about cycling nowadays. We are truly watching a legend being made: the small but mighty Little Big Man. He is the crown jewel of the amazing race of Colombians cycling is absolutely BLESSED to have. I love watching him and his compatriots, obviously they are as passionate as everyone else; but they usually all look so intent and concentrated and, particularly in Quintana’s case, calm and collected. There is such a maturity and focus on the “simple” task at hand of riding up the mountain quickest; while in reality he’s causing carnage and destruction, ravaging every other person who thought they had a shot to win. And when you’re dropped by Quintana, it’s over, you know he ain’t slowin’ up and he’s probably worked you to where you have no energy left for a rebound. He is a great champion and I can’t wait to see what else he does this summer.

Ok everyone else. Dumoulin, what can you say, what a dude; I mentioned how heroic I thought his Vuelta was, I’m not that surprised by his performance today, mostly just pumped! Obviously, he’s my prediction for the TT on Tuesday: Dumoulin takes pink on Tuesday and it will be Quintana who we’ll be asking questions about. Pinot looked great, but in my opinion he’s got a longer way to Milan than everyone else, if that makes sense. I thought Nibali looked VERY good until he cracked, but I didn’t think a minute was a devastating loss for him. To lose a minute to Quintana is bad, but how the hell do you stop that when you go toe to toe with him? And last year on stage 18 Nibali was down like 3 minutes(?) to Kruijswijk and somehow found it all to win. Nibali is by no means out of it for the overall. Alas, Kruijswijk had a bad day, he’s coming off a decently bad first week crash though, from what I’ve heard. Tejay sucked, I wonder if this is the last time he’ll have GT leadership? And finally it’s a shame what happened to Sky and Yatesy. I really wanted to see what Sky could do with two leaders, but I had a feeling some disaster like this would befall at least one of their two leaders. Mark my words, someone from Sky wins the KOM jersey.

Sorry I was so delayed with these, not that anyone is an active follower, but I let them pile up and you know then it becomes a burden to get on top of everything. I’ll try to do better this second week. I’m predicting a Dumoulin win on Tuesday, I’m really only going to watch to see him and Quintana; I guess I’d also give Jungels a chance to win. Best stage so far? Stages 8 and 9 were very good, but Stage 3 still has the top spot for me!

Stage 4 Predictions

Hey Sorry, Stage 3 thoughts will come soon; I’ve been kinda busy, plus stage 3 was so awesome I don’t wanna hastily write and feel it’s a chore to talk about it.

That said predictions are a chore that I have decided to do. So let’s see. No one should be more motivated to win this one than Nibali. I don’t think many of the GC guys are really coming to this climb to put their stamp on the race yet at this point and this could very well come down to a sprint and with the hometown motivation I think Nibali will take it.

It would be so Nibali though to completely botch this and lose like 2 minutes to Quintana tomorrow, but I’m think favorably of him. Maybe they let Rohan Dennis go up the road if he’s feeling good since he lost time on GC. Or Sky try to send Mikel Landa up the road (I highly doubt this will work, so they probably won’t even try it, it’ll be marked immediately). And finally I like Rui Costa again for this stage, motivation to take the jersey, he proved his quality when the big guns just have a stare down already this year.

Final pick for the day is Nibali, I’m kinda lost right now so I’ll just stick with the hometown boy who I hope is motivated to win.

 

Giro 100 Stage 2: Greipel

This Giro is already being a pain in the ass to find video, I’m getting pissed now. Anyways I found a video up the major climb and I found a video of the last 20k.

Image result for giro d'italia 2017 daniel teklehaimanot

The climb, what can I say, they took it easy, Sean Kelly was literally saying: “They’re looking around at the scenery.” So this left all the sprinters in play, except I think Nizzolo. I will note I enjoyed watching Teklehaimanot take max points on the climb. The peloton was really chasing, but he kept his cool and jumped at the right time. It was the most exciting thing I’ve seen him do, a well earned blue jersey today.

Image result for giro d'italia 2017 andre greipel

The sprint, Andre Greipel. He continues his streak of Grand Tour stage wins. Would have liked to see what Ewan could have done but that’s cycling, problems right at the end. Gaviria showed up, Stuyven and Sbargali were, I’ve never heard of the UAE guy in second but good for him. Good sprint, typical sprint, kinda bummed we got it, because I thought we were queuing up for some opportunist racing today. But whatevs, I think Rob Hatch said this was the first time Greipel’s pulled on pink? Good for him, well deserved over all these years.

I will also say, I do not mind the boring stages early, if that means the exciting stages will be REALLYYYYY exciting. If everyone agreed to chill today, because they have Etna on Tuesday and everything else mainland Italy can throw at them, I understand.

Stage 3

I expect Greipel again. I thought he’d win this one a couple days ago and now he has the confidence, even if/since Caleb Ewan has the legs he’s 8 seconds down so I don’t think he’s too optimistic about pulling the jersey off Greipel. Ewan would need to win and Greipel finish out of the top 10. With such a straight forward run it and a confident Greipel I do not think this will happen. Greipel takes another one tomorrow.

Giro 100 Stage 1 Thoughts And Upcoming Stage 2

THAT is how you start a Grand Tour! Alas! The only video I could find without really searching and spoiling the results for myself was the last 10k. Luckily it didn’t seem like the real action happened until the end. We Americans are not blessed with the beloved Eurosport; however for the short video I found I did get to enjoy Sean Kelly and Rob Hatch, quite a good team! I wish I had gotten to watch the start and then hopped in for the last 30k. Watching the downtime with the luscious countryside and the filler talk of Rob and Sean really makes the final explosive ending even better! But I didn’t get that this time, whatever, I had a busy day anyways.

Image result for lukas postlberger interview

So Lukas Postlberger,  great win, stealing away in the last kilometer is always a fun upset for a stage win. Particularly because it is one of the hardest things to do in this era, I think Steve Cummings is the only one with a real knack for it. Cycling is such a real life sport: it’s so hard and so cruel and so many riders do not walk away with the results they should have achieved, but then every once in a while the stars DO align. Today it was Lukas’ turn. A regular domestique who was just doing his job, but saw an opportunity and seized it. I think what really made this stick was obviously the peloton was strung out from some sort of crash/bottleneck and Postlberger went over the bridge with a tiny gap, then almost the rest of the way to the line was Downhill! Great stuff, strong win, seeing the thrill of the win, the disbelief, and gratitude and camaraderie between these riders is what makes this sport so satisfying.

I believe in my specific Giro predictions post I looked at Cannondale, UAE, DD, and I said possibly Bora to light it up. This is the kind of stuff I was talking about: you’re not gonna go toe to toe with the GC boys in the mountains and you’re not gonna manhandle the sprints so you battle, steal, grab, chase, pounce, latch onto,……, whatever you can get! Postlberger did that to grab the stage win and the maglia rosa, and the points and young rider’s jerseys to boot! And to finish off the Bora sweep his teammate Cesare Benedetti went in the break and took all the KOMs and got the blue jersey.

So my Gaviria pick didn’t work out so well, sounded like he was far out of position 3-2k out, whatever. Ewan looked real strong and won that sprint pretty outright. Now that was a strange sprint with a man out in front and most of the sprinters did not have teammates up there, would it have gone the same if Postlberger wasn’t out front? I don’t know. But Ewan looked good against Griepel. It looks to me like the rest of the sprinters all showed up and were prepared for this. More battles to ensue.

Ok Matt White said on Orica Backstage Pass this day has much altitude gain as Liege-Bastogne-Liege (BTW, watch Backstage Pass if you don’t, it’s awesome and so much fun). Anyways I’ve been looking at this stage for a couple days now and my rider in mind has really been Rui Costa. Then running down the list Michael Woods (or Formolo or Howes) jumped out to me, and Bob Jungels; I’m a little surprised I’m thinking they’ll do something deeper into the race but I think this could suit them. I’m thinking breakaway is caught on that Cat 2 (Genna Silana) and an attack rolls over the top and takes a gap down that big decent, this seems like a scenario Jungels would star in to TT a break to the line. Or the peloton will definitely be reduced by the time it gets to the finish and I think the freshest legs will win out, I’m looking at Nathan Haas or Costa. Haas is probably the smarter pick, he was on stellar form in the Ardennes. Costa had a good early season in the Middle East (Abu Dhabi summit and overall win) followed by little racing which has nothing to talk about. I think he’s stated he’s interested in hunting GT stages, let’s see it. I think Costa would do best in a small group <20, but maybe he’s in shape to take a sprint after this long stage from a group of 50 or 80? I think he’s going to turn up tomorrow, though I really like my Jungels over the top attack scenario. Who knows, Sbargali or Gaviria could last the day too when most other sprinters will be dropped?

If the break wins tomorrow that could be cool and it’ll have to be close, because the jersey is still in play for everyone. I must note, last year I got SICK of seeing the breakaway win every mountain stage of the Giro, it makes me think they need to re-up the bonus seconds available at the line. I love to see small names win on the big stage, because it doesn’t and shouldn’t happen often (they are the small names for a reason). I am also watching to see the big names earn their paychecks so if the breakaway starts winning too many stages here again, I’m gonna get a headache like last year.

I’m excited to see if Postlberger can hold the jersey, he got 5th at E3 so he’s strong, we’ll see if he has the climbing legs. Job well done for Bora, let us see if wins produce wins.

Giro 100 Stage 1 Predictions

Ok, ok I’m going to try to predict as many stages as I can, but I do not promise I will get to all of them, but in the following days I will give my thoughts on all of them.

Cool, so stage 1, we got a 200 km stage to start us off, that’s the Giro done right. This looks like it should be a typical first day for the sprinters to shine. That climb 20k from the finish could be interesting though.

It looks like 7% first k, a section of 9.5%, and a section of 4% to finish it off. Since everyone is fresh I expect the big sprinters to get over it, or at the very least they won’t lose enough contact and the teams can haul them back into the field over the remaining 20k. In my eyes the three big favorites are Andre Greipel, Caleb Ewan, and Fernando Gaviria. Nizzolo and Bennett will be up there as well, but I doubt they win.

I know Greipel has to be the top favorite, but I think I will take Fernando Gaviria on this one. Greipel’s getting older and Gaviria has beat Cav one on one multiple times and beat Greipel head to head once already this season at Algarve. Also I think Gaviria will have the least taken out of him from that climb compared to Greipel and Ewan. This isn’t a star studded field like last year nor is it the Tour, I think these sprints will be easier to be in position for and it’ll just come down to surfing and pure power and speed. It sounds like Ewan and Gaviria are both in it for the long haul so I’m pretty excited to see these throughout the race. I’m not sure how good Gaviria is gonna be over this whole Grand Tour, it is his first I believe! So I think Quickstep will get him off to a good start like they did with Kittel last year and how they start off every season in general. Gaviria will win early before he’s in survival mode way deeper into this race.

Image result for gaviria volta ao algarve

So ya, let’s go with that: Gaviria for the win on the first stage of Giro. I can’t wait to talk about it tomorrow.

Thanks Giro d’Italia website for all the quality coverage:

http://www.giroditalia.it/eng/stage/stage-1-2017/

 

Giro-Tour Predictions

I figure any predictions about Quintana’s Giro-Tour double must be made before either actually begin, it’s only fair.

So first of all I really wanted Froome to try it this year, this Giro route suits him and he’s already got three Tours: let’s raise the bar. I will even go so far as to say that I think Froome wanted to do it, the TT kilometers looked good to him and the mountains look vicious: he knows whoever wins this would be quite a champion, especially if they could come back a few weeks later and win the Tour. I think it is Sky management that told Froome “No, usual plan of Tour-Vuelta.” I wanted Froome to do it over Quintana, because I figured Quintana would be fully focused on the Tour and rightfully so: he’s already won the Giro and he must win the Tour or he’ll go down as one of the greatest riders not to; meanwhile Froome needs to be more than just someone with 6 or 7 Tours, I’d much rather see 5 Tours and a handful of Giros and Veultas.

Image result for marco pantani giro tour double

Instead it is now Quintana going for the Giro-Tour double, a feat not done since Marco Pantani in 1998 and that is nowadays thought to be impossible because of how difficult and high stakes the racing has become. You don’t see this is sports very often: something once thought to be impossible is finally achieved (first Giro-Tour double was done by Fausto Coppi in 1949) and is then deemed impossible again? Weird, but it makes the challenge even more prestigious and thought provoking.

Image result for marco pantani giro tour double

When I first heard, I was excited to see Quintana at the Giro and my immediate reaction was that RCS must be paying him a ton and he’s putting off winning the Tour for one more year. Then I thought actually: if anyone bounces back from a grand tour where they were fighting for the win only to win the grand tour after that, it’s obviously Quintana. We have seen time and again in individual grand tours Quintana really flying and on his best form in the 3rd week. And finally last year we saw him take the podium in the Tour (while ill) only to completely bounce back to win the Vuelta a month later! Doing the Giro first might be the best way to win the Tour! Then I had a twinge of doubt: “What if he’s only at the Giro to take the appearance money and he uses it as a training block for the Tour?” This could happen, and if misfortune strikes early, this would be the logical thing for him to do. That said going into this, I think he’s here to win: I do not think Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, and Nairo Quintana line up at ANY grand tour just to train, they come to win. Period.

So I do think Nairo Quintana will win the Giro. The course is demanding, he’s a great rider, he’ll survive the TTs and pull off a great victory. From a viewing standpoint I hope it’s a close battle for first, but if he runs away with it so that he can begin looking at the Tour right away, fine by me, do what you’ve gotta do! Now the tough part, does he win the Tour? I don’t know, the route isn’t that hard, the route might not be hard enough for Froome. Froome has already tipped Valverde as a huge Tour favorite and I think I agree with him! Can you image that, that’d be some huge drama, Quintana wins the Giro, but Valverde betrays him to go win the Tour for himself. Movistar would explode! Ok, I might be fine with this happening, because that would definitely be a story for the ages. Anyways back to it: I could see Quintana winning the Tour, but him and Contador are gonna have to dismantle Sky over a whole stage like they did last year at the Vuelta. And I will also note, I think Sky will be riping for the picking this year: Landa and Thomas will be shot from the Giro, yes they’ll have good days, but I won’t count on them to be there for Froome everyday at the Tour (I doubt Landa even goes). Wout Poels has been missing all year from injury, I wouldn’t be counting on his to be there for Froome everyday. So he should still have a fresh Sergio Henao and Michal Kwiatkowski in the mountains, but I do not think the Sky Death Star will be as imperially overpowering as they were last year.

Image result for nairo quintana chris froome

So I’m saying Quintana will win the Giro, and I’ll even say he has as much shot to win the Tour as Froome. But I will be so bold and say I’m not sure they are the biggest favorites to win the Tour, because the route isn’t super hard……..

Ok, literally when I started writing this I was gonna say Quintana would not do the double, but now I think he might. Sure the Tour parcours aren’t as difficult as previous years, but I think that means Movistar and Sky will BOTH push the pace all day to make up for that. Now that I’m thinking about it: look at how teams have been driving the pace all Spring to isolate Sagan, those races have been so hard and fast from so far out, I think we’ll see the same this year at the Tour from many teams: Sky, Movistar, Trek, BMC, and Orica and their attacks will actually isolate other team leaders.

Image result for nairo quintana chris froome

Ya, I’d say it’s a toss up for who wins the Tour: Froome, Quintana, even Porte and Valverde, I even give Peter Sagan a 10% shot this year. So since it’s a toss up, I’ll be optimistic and think QUINTANA WILL PULL OFF THE GIRO-TOUR DOUBLE. So if Quintana does the double we now have it on record that I said he would on this May 4, 2017 at 8:14 PM MST.

This all said, I’m still gonna make my more current Tour picks come July, based on what happens in May and June. Also from that second paragraph I know the plural of Giro is Giri, but that sounds weird to my American ears so I’m not gonna use it.

GIRO 100 Predictions

Image result for giro d'italia old

This is the race I have been most excited for in 2017. The 100th edition of such a piece of history. The Tifosi are such great fans, the route is so beautiful, and Italy just really seeps with history at every turn in the route! With the route paying homage to Italian greats like Fausto Coppi, Gino Bartali, and Marco Pantani, the gravitas of this edition is only made heavier. But onto some predictions:

Image result for giro d'italia

Giro Predictions

A great list of GC contenders here this year, the best I’ve seen at the Giro: Nairo Quintana, Vincenzo Nibali, Tejay Van Garderen, Thibaut Pinot, Adam Yates, Ilnur Zakarin, Steven Kruijswijk, Mikel Landa, Geraint Thomas, Bob Jungels, Bauke Mollema, and Tom Dumoulin all have real shots at the podium. Now, maybe I haven’t been watching cycling long enough, but this decade seems to be the golden age of GC Grand Tour contenders: this is about half or 3/5 of the big names in cycling with a shot at a GT podium. I feel spoiled that we get to watch these guys all duke it out for the top spots. I say spoiled, because when it comes down to it, these guys are all really good, but we when watch we aren’t going to be excited when some of them battle for 8th place, we want a big battle for #1! And honestly, I don’t know if we’re going to get it. It could go down like the Tour last year with an exciting first half, but a flat second half because the top spot is locked up negating the exciting battle for the rest of the podium.

Quintana could wrap this thing up quick. Barring misfortune, Quintana will be the best climber and will destroy this race in the mountains. I do not see anyone betting Quintana unless they have a real good TT. In my eyes this only leaves Tom Dumoulin as his only competition for the overall win, because he has shown climbing ability in the past to do damage/at least hang on in the mountains AND he could gain minutes on Quintana in the TTs. That said Nibali knows how to turn on his form for the GT he’s targeting and I think he’s super motivated by the prestige of winning the 100th edition. It may be simple and obvious, but this is my podium:

  1. Nairo Quintana
  2. Vincenzo Nibali
  3. Tom Dumoulin

Image result for quintana giro

Meanwhile I like that Sky has finally gone in with true co-leadership, maybe they are only saying this to be polite to Landa while Geraint is clearly in better shape, but Geraint has never led a GT team and Landa has finished on the podium. In my eyes they really are co-leaders and good for them: keep them both as high on GC as possible, don’t sacrifice one of them till they are really unfortunate. Sky have the strongest team as usual and if they are both high on GC then on every mountain finale you can send one up the road early to put all sorts of pressure on Movistar and Bahrain. I’d also quickly note this is one of the best Movistar squads I’ve seen, Bahrain’s average at best. I’m just gonna guess both of them are right outside the podium (4-7 range): TT hurts Landa, and alas! G will have an off-day somewhere in the mountains.

The Yateses(?) have lived up to the hype that was buzzing around them two or three years ago, they really produced last summer and have both looked good this spring. Adam will be in that 6-8 range but the TT will kick him out of the top 5. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins a stage though, Orica have been really good at this over the years. Same goes for Zakarin, though less confident in a stage win and more confident about GC.

Tejay and Pinot have both looked good in the prep races for the Giro, but that is all. Tejay looked like crap in the early season and I didn’t hear a thing about Pinot until Tour of the Alps. Both have great potential to do well at this race, but in the end at least one of them is bound to blow up somewhere in this race. I have more confidence in Pinot and if he is somehow on for the whole race he could be on the podium. But just as likely knowing their luck, the day after a rest day they will crash into each other and ruin their GC chances.

Steven Kruijswijk gets his own spot, because his ride last year was just so brave and epic. With no real team support, last year he was by far the strongest rider in the race; he was a true underdog story not putting a toe out of line on one of the most high-stakes stages of the sport. Until of course he crashed into a snowy wall on a descent in the maglia rosa and that ended all his chances and he sank to 4th place.  It was the second most epic collapse I’ve seen in the few years I’ve been watching (the most epic of course being the brave ride by Tom Dumoulin in the 2015 Vuelta when he died, butchered and beated, and left for dead by the Astana jekels and the rest of the peloton sitting on their heels). I feel Kruijswijk is one of those riders who only unleashes unreal form on totally another level only for this one event. I expect him to be up there this year and perhaps it will be only him and not Nibali or Dumoulin that is hanging on to or even pushing Nairo up the mountains (I would love to see it), but cycling is cruel and real: I do not think the stars will align this year and somehow Kruijswijk will find himself in 4th again. But if that idea to start the 101st Giro in Japan is still on, sign Kruijswijk up, I think he’ll win that one outright.

Bauke Mollema will be top 10, he showed last year at the Tour he also can unleash unreal form, but in that same Tour we saw him fall back down to earth and be the average top 10 grand tour rider he is (I treat this with mediocrity, but of course top ten at the Tour is an amazing, amazing result!). And Bob Jungels, he had a great great Giro last year, this year, I don’t know how, but I think he’ll back it up again. Possibly (multiple) stage wins and maybe even beat Rohan Dennis and Dumoulin in one of the TTs.

Hmmmm, I’m gonna quickly wrap this up with some quick thoughts about the whole rest of this race:

Greipel will probably be the best sprinter here, but I’m kind of hoping this will be the first big time chapter in the Ewan/Gaviria rivalry: I’d love to see them both do well here and add some stages to their palmares: beating Greipel and the other would make the wins really legit. Then I’m looking at Cannondale, Dimension Data. UAE, and possibly Bora: you have strong teams that can REALLY animate this race! Let’s see it: get a stage, have some days in pink, duke it out for the KOMs, or even just come close to pulling off a long shot breakaway/attack. Sorry I’m only mentioning Pozzovivo and Nizzolo now with nothing more to say. And finally, very honorable for Astana to start with 8 men, Scarponi was awesome and is deeply missed by all, he was taking scalps and putting people to the sword last year for Nibali and those parrot videos were ridiculous, class act.

So ya, I’m excited for this race to watch each and every individual stage, together hopefully they provide a thrilling narrative where Quintana, Nibali, Kruijswijk, and Dumoulin battle it out for the overall to the last day while the Sky boys shake up the route, Yates takes a stage, Ewan & Gaviria come into their  Grand Tour own, and small name riders fight to crave out a niche in the monolith that is the Giro. I’ll note I’m a little bummed the route isn’t going to Rome around stage 10ish, from what I have (not) seen Rome isn’t a cycling mecca in Italy, but it still would have been cool to see a stage finish at the capital of the country in the 100th Giro. Best of the luck to all the competitors and be safe.

Giro-Tour predictions and Stage 1 predictions to come tomorrow.

 

 

Welcome

Alright, I have inspired myself to start a blog about cycling.

Image result for cycling finish line photos old

I love to talk about cycling, at this point there are not enough people I can talk to in person who I can hold a conversation about cycling with. Many people I see on a daily basis do not much like cycling purely because I talk about it too much. This is another outlet for me, LET’S SEE HOW IT WORKS OUT! We can talk about how my love for cycling grew another time. In short, I just started seriously riding and racing this past 2017 Spring and I have been watching the Tour for many years and the full Pro season for 3 years at this point. You may wonder, does that really make me worthy enough to host a blog about cycling? Please keep in mind this is an IMMERSIVE 3 years of cycling I’ve been watching, like hardcore obsession. Anyways though, the answer to if I’m qualified is I don’t know yet. I will do little to no advertising and self-promotion of the blog until I know I have something worthy to present to the cycling community. Ideally, I want this thing I’m creating (working title is Talking Cycling) to be for everyone to talk cycling and more, and definitely not just have me saying what I think of the season.  I figure my first baby steps must come from a blog like this. I will start by making some predictions to see if I have any credibility and real knowledge of cycling. The first real predictions will come this week with the Giro starting: expect a bunch of Giro predictions and even some Giro-Tour stuff. But I will not only do previews and predictions, there are enough of those out there: what I will look forward to doing is recaps and actually talking about these riders and how they fit in the all time scope of cycling with its Epic History. I love when I’m watching live-streamed previews with Cyclinghub or Cyclingmole and they get sidetracked and just talk about the riders, the teams, and make inside jokes only fans really up to date would understand. Maybe I will describe what happened, but I really just wanna talk about the amazing performances we’re going to see, I mean isn’t that why we watch? I do not and cannot get enough talk about how impressive and epic and heroic these deeds can be that these guys do! Additionally when the racing is low I’ll give my reasoning or start a debate on stuff like “Who is the second greatest cyclist of all time?” or talk about cool ideas for races and challenges that could enter the cycling world or maybe just research about old ass riders from before WWI! I have grander ideas that do not fit into the blog as well, but I’ll keep those under wraps.

Like I said these are baby steps, this thing may not even get off the ground, but this is what I’m starting with. Once/BIG IF I get followers PLEASEEEEEEEEE leave comments on these posts so that WE ALL can actually be Talkin’ Cycling! Ok, I’m not gonna make my first blog post and not actually talk about cycling, so I’ll do a little quick thing below here.

Best Race of 2017 so far?

Image result for paris nice 2017 stage 1

Paris-Nice. This is a fairly easy pick. The race was very close, the scenery is the best in the sport, we had big names battlin’, and I don’t remember/I didn’t find a stage boring! We’ve come to expect these things from Paris-Nice in recent years though, what puts it at the top spot for me? The first of two things that really stood out to me was: Julian Alaphillipe. This young rider is so much fun to watch: he’s not afraid to attack–he is ballsy and courageous, he’s competitive on so much terrain, his facial expressions come at a time we need with Voeckler’s retirement around the corner, and he’s a Frenchman I can really get behind. I think he’s my pick to be the heir to the Hinault throne, at the moment I think it will be him that breaks the French Tour drought. I’ll stop right there, that’s another can of snails. Alaphillipe showed his class this race even if he didn’t win, the mountain TT was excellent and he bravely jumped headfirst into any opportunities he saw! Other thing that really put PN over the top was that it was actually and finally a real “Race to the Sun.” This was a hard man’s Paris-Nice, I was tempted to put Stage 1 as the best race of the year all by itself! Sean Kelly, Bernard Hinault, they were sayin’ it, that’s what Paris-Nice is supposed to start off like. You got a day that’s supposed to be for the sprinters and it turns into an EPIC crosswinds battle and you come to the finish and Andre Griepel and Marcel Kittel are getting dropped on the last little drag of the day! Greipel could literally eat most of the peloton and Kittel is even bigger than him and they fell apart and failed, what does that say about the guys that won? They are some tough MEN! Stage 2 backed it up with more echelons and eventually we transferred into the beautiful southern France which in my opinion is the best scenery in the sport, but I’m opening another can of worms.

Best Finish of the Year?

Image result for milan sanremo finish

Milano-Sanremo. I mean just look at that photo! Not gonna lie I was hoping for a Sagan win, but what a badass not leaving it for the sprint or even just the decsent. He FELT like attacking on Poggio climb itself, and so he did. He dragged two guys with him, he probably did care but he pretended like he didn’t and did 90% of the work. He didn’t get the sprint right, but it was thrilling battle that everyone watching waited for and that is one of the best finish photos I’ve ever seen. I’ll also note, Tirreno-Adriatico stage 5 was really good too where Sagan really bullied his way up that GC hilltop like a savage, tireless, polar bear to win it. Peter Sagan’s great, I’m hoping he does even more unreal things this second half of the season and he wins more wins to show for it!

Thanks for reading!