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Can Nairo Quintana Challenge Roglič In Paris-Nice?

Nairo Quintana has had a strong start to the season, as we saw at Tour de la Provence and Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var, where the Colombian destroyed his competition on both climbs and descents. However, Quintana is yet to test himself against some of the world’s strongest general classification riders.

This is set to change on the 6th of March at Paris-Nice where, according to the provisional startlist, Quintana will face some tough competition including Primož Roglič, Simon Yates, Adam Yates, Aleksandr Vlasov and Joao Almeida.

Quintana’s Performances in 2022

As shown in the graph below, this year Quintana has outperformed his competition on the climbs. His best performance is Col d’Eze (6.78 w/kg for 14:07 minutes) in Tour des Alpes Maritimes whereas Montagne de Lure (6.06 w/kg for 32:44) is his best 20+ minute climb.

Lanterne Rouge x Cycling Graphs, Quintana’s Best Performances in 2022

The Montagne de Lure effort is more impressive than the average watts suggest, as the climb was paced asymmetrically, with a slower pace by FDJ’s Armirail until the last four kilometres, where Quintana stepped up the pace significantly to put enough time into Alaphilippe to win GC.

Quintana destroys everyone on Montagne de Lure in Tour de la Provence 2022

Quintana 2022 vs Roglič 2021

The favourite for Paris-Nice, and Quintana’s greatest threat, is Roglič. Interestingly, Quintana’s performances so far this year suggest that he is at a similar level to that of Roglič’s in 2021 in terms of peak watts per kg output. If Roglič performs in Paris-Nice at his 2021 level, Quintana will need some additional watts to drop the Slovenian and gain time against him on the mountain stages (which he will need to do, as he will lose time in the time trial).

Lanterne Rouge x Cycling Graphs, Primož Roglič 2021 vs Nairo Quintana 2022 and La Colmiane 2020

In both the 2020 and 2021 editions of Paris-Nice, Valdeblore La Colmiane (16.12 km at 6.33 %) was the biggest climb. In 2020 Quintana won the mountain top finish, beating runner up Tiesj Benoot by 46 seconds. In 2021 it was Roglič’s turn to take the victory by catching Gino Mäder just before the finish line and breaking the Swiss rider’s heart in the process.

Primož Roglič with a late attack wins on Valdeblore La Colmiane in Paris Nice 2021

Quintana and Roglič performed similarly on Valdeblore La Colmiane in 2020 and 2021 respectively. Roglič’s time is better by 18 seconds, but Quintana pushed 0.02 w/kg more because he attacked with 3.8 km to go and did not draft as much as Roglič, who waited for the final kilometre of the stage to attack.

Valdeblore La Colmiane 2020 and 2021 calculations by Naichaca

This suggests that in order for Quintana to drop Roglič in Paris-Nice, assuming that Roglič is in good condition, Quintana will need to put out more watts than what we have seen so far this year. The positive news for Quintana fans is that Quintana has likely not reached his peak career condition yet, which arguably was in February 2020 on Col d’Eze (7.5 w/kg for 9:25) and Chalet Reynard (6.67 w/kg for 28:12).

Lanterne Rouge x Cycling Graphs, 2022 performances in green

These were some of the best climbing performances in recent history, particularly the Chalet Reynard performance being almost unparalleled in the 21st century.

Quintana’s mutant performance on Col d’Eze 2020

What to Expect in Paris-Nice?

Quintana will not contest the hilly one day race Faun-Ardèche Classic on 26 February, despite initial rumours that he would line up, in order to better prepare for Paris-Nice. By contrast, Roglič will start his race season at Faun-Ardèche Classic followed by Drome Classic on 27 February. This will provide us with some insight into Roglič’s form in the lead up to Paris-Nice, with both races featuring punchy climbs that should suit the Slovenian.

Guilherand-Granges – France – wielrennen – cycling – cyclisme – radsport – David Gaudu (France / Team Groupama – FDJ) pictured during the Faun-Ardche Classic 2021- photo William Cannarella/Cor Vos © 2021

Stages 1 and 3 of Paris-Nice provide an opportunity to Roglič to take some bonus seconds if raced hard enough. However, it’s also possible that Jumbo-Visma will focus on supporting Wout van Aert’s ambitions during these stages, who is also lining up instead of racing at Tirreno-Adriatico like last year.

The primary threat to Roglič on this stage are fast finishers who can also get over some hills including Sonny Colbrelli, Bryan Coquard, Biniam Girmay, Ethan Hayter and his own teammate van Aert. Although Roglič is fast, his speed will be tested by such competition and it is a major boost for Quintana’s GC ambitions that Roglic might have to defer leadership in certain stages to van Aert.

Paris-Nice Stage 1 2022 Profile By La Flamme Rouge

To avoid a drag race to the finish, Roglič might seek to attack early on the 2-3 minute climbs and go solo in a style similar to Julian Alaphilippe. The Côté de Breuil-Bois-Robert (1.2 km at 6.9%) which is 5 km from the finish provides a perfect opportunity to attack.

Stage 2 is a flat sprint stage, while stage 3 finishes on a shallow hill of 2.1 km at 3.3% that probably is not steep enough for Roglič to attack or go against bigger sprinters while van Aert is in the group.

Paris-Nice Stage 3 2022 Profile By La Flamme Rouge

Quintana will definitely need to be on the offensive on the later stages with longer climbs because he will lose significant time against Roglič and other time-trial specialists on the hilly 13-kilometre ITT on stage 4. We expect Quintana to lose 30 to 50 seconds to Roglič in the rolling ITT, despite Quintana’s solid prologue performance in Tour de la Provence.

Paris-Nice Stage 4 2022 Profile By La Flamme Rouge

There are three stages where Quintana might launch an attack and gain some time on bigger climbs. Of course, as Quintana proved in Tour de la Provence stage 1, he can gain time on competitors in crosswind stages. There is a very high chance that we will see echelon action in Paris-Nice, which is one of the windiest races in the calendar and has ruined GC hopes in past years before the race has even reached the climbs in the South of France. Roglič is not great at positioning in echelons, but Jumbo-Visma will bring a classics squad including Wout van Aert, Nathan Van Hooydonck, Christophe Laporte, and Mike Teunissen. If Roglič stays on van Aert’s wheel then he should always be in the first echelon and even if he misses a split, he has the best squad to bring the race back together.

Quintana rides in the first group in crosswinds in Tour de la Provence 2022

On stage 5 the rider’s face the Col de la Mure (7.7 km at 8.1%). The top of it is 30 km from the finish, but it is perfect for attacks and as Quintana showed in Alpes-Maritimes, he is not afraid to attack from far out. Later in the stage there is a shallower climb, where attacks are also possible on steeper parts.

Paris-Nice Stage 5 2022 Profile By La Flamme Rouge

Stage 7 is the queen stage and finishes on the mighty Col de Turini (15.2 km, 7.2%) which was also used in the 2019 edition of Paris-Nice. Daniel Felipe Martinez won that day from the breakaway, but Nairo Quintana and Egan Bernal were the fastest from the GC favorites.

Col de Turini – France – wielrennen – cycling – cyclisme – radsport – Daniel Felipe Martinez (COL – EF Education First) pictured during the 77th Paris – Nice (2.UWT) – Stage 7 from Nice to Col de Turini (181.5KM) – photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2019

They climbed Col de Turini in 40:45. Jack Haig finished 22 seconds later. According to his strava data, Haig on Col de Turini produced 392 watts for 41:07. That is 5.6 w/kg if we assume his weight was 70 kilograms. In 2022 Paris-Nice, the climbing record should be broken if there is not a very strong headwind and if Quintana needs to gain time on Roglic.

Paris-Nice Stage 7 2022 Profile By La Flamme Rouge

The last chance to get time back for Quintana will be on the last day. Stage 8 will end with Col d’Eze (6.1 km, 7.6%) after a short day of constant up and down. It is the different side from the 2020 and 2022 Col d’Eze versions used in Tour des Alpes Maritimes, where Quintana performed at a very high level. This side is even steeper. In the first half of the climb there is a 1.3 km and 11.5% steep section which is perfect for an attack.

Paris-Nice Stage 8 2022 Profile By La Flamme Rouge

Team Support

Unfortunately for Quintana it will be extremely hard to isolate Roglič, who will have Wout van Aert, Steven Kruijswijk and Rohan Dennis as climbing domestiques, while Quintana’s mountain support squad will include Simon Guglielmi, Matis Louvel, and Łukasz Owsian, without the invaluable Maxime Bouet and Nicolas Edet who have helped Quintana in previous weeks. Even if Quintana drops Roglič on Col d’Eze (or another climb), the Slovenian can use his domestiques to pace back Quintana. If Roglič performs at his 2021 level, then the only way he can lose against Quintana is if he repeats something similar to Paris-Nice stage 8, which is possible given how tricky the final stage is once again.

Roglič loses Paris-Nice 2021 in stage 8

His 2022 supporting cast will be considerably stronger than last year, so even if Roglič has some mishaps throughout Paris-Nice, there is no one better than Wout van Aert to rescue him. Of course, Roglic is not the only man to beat, and with Simon Yates, Aleksandr Vlasov and Adam Yates already looking in top shape this year, Quintana even reaching the podium of this race will be perhaps his best ever one week performance since he joined Arkea-Samsic.

The Giro Rewards Breakaways with Israel Securing 2024 Wildcards | UCI May Ranking Analysis

This Giro d’Italia has been the first Grand Tour after the change in the scoring system, which has increased the amount of UCI points distributed in Giro, Tour and Vuelta. While the podium was once again occupied by the three big teams (Jumbo, Ineos and UAE), other modest teams such as Jayco and Israel made the most of the race, benefitting from several successful breakaways. The points won by Israel are particularly important, as it gives them an almost unassailable lead of 2500 points over TotalEnergies in the fight for the 2024 WorldTour wildcards.

2023 Ranking

Ineos has been the highest scoring team of the Giro, with Thomas, Arensman and De Plus in the top10 of the GC, but Jumbo and UAE continue to stand out in their two-way competition to win the season ranking. The particularity of the Giro is that, as we said, several teams at the bottom of the standings have scored a large number of points, leaving Arkéa visibly slipping in the relegation zone. The situation is more worrying for Astana, 2325 UCI points behind the top 18, despite Cavendish’s stage win in Rome.

Analysing the Giro points by riders, we can see that sprinters like Milan, Matthews or Pedersen and combative men like Gee or Skujins have been the big beneficiaries of the change in the scoring system, which gave more weight to stages as opposed to the general classification. Derek Gee’s spectacular Giro was worth 990 UCI points, 700 more than it would have been under the old points scale. Another interesting case is that of Pedersen, who earned 580 points (the 8th most points in the race) riding only 12 stages. In terms of UCI points, it is a wise strategy to take a sprinter just for the sprints of the first part of the race and then abandon once the high mountains begin.

It depends on the situation and the route of each Grand Tour, but the new scoring system makes it more profitable to look for breakaways than to fight to maintain a place at the bottom of the top 10 of the GC, as Lennard Kamna choose to do this Giro. Despite this, if we analyse the points per team, we see that the teams that have been in podium positions in the GC have still scored the most points. However, Israel, Trek and EF are among the 9 teams with the most UCI points of the Giro without any man in the top20 of the GC. With 15 riders scoring per stage instead of 5 as previously, it is imperative to have a regular presence in the sprints and breakaways with a chance of victory.

The resignations of TotalEnergies and especially Lotto Dstny from the Giro were controversial, especially as Lotto’s decline of their wildcard invitation was prior to the announcement of the UCI scoring changes. Due to the change in the scoring system, the Giro has gone from distributing 9893 UCI points to 24557 points, while the scale has hardly changed in the continental calendar. Thus, in terms of UCI points, the Giro has had a much greater importance than the races of the alternative calendar, unlike last season. In the following graph, you can see the points obtained in the Giro and the races coinciding with the Giro (started between May 6 and May 28).

These last three weeks, Lotto Dstny has scored more points than 13 of the teams that have competed in the Giro, so they have made good use of the alternative calendar. Between De Lie, Ewan, Vermeersch, De Buyst, Moniquet, Van Moer and Menten they have scored over 1200 points. In a Giro without top sprinters and with many winning breakaways, it is possible that they could have scored that amount of points by riding the Giro with more media exposure, although the physical wear of the Giro is also much greater. On the other hand, TotalEnergies and Uno-X have not been able to score as many points as most of the teams that raced the Giro.

With the old scoring system, Lotto Dstny would have been richly rewarded for their success on the continental circuit, as the rest of the teams would have scored much less in the Giro d’Italia. For example, Lotto Dstny would have scored more points in the alternative calendar than Jumbo – Visma winning the Giro d’Italia. The experience of the Giro seems to indicate that the system is fairer now, although it hurts teams without a guaranteed WorldTour calendar, such as Uno-X.

At the end of the Giro, Roglic has become the second cyclist with the most UCI points of the season, only behind his compatriot Pogacar. In the interactive graph below, you can see the points of the riders of the top 22 teams.

2024 Wildcards

Israel’s 1400 points at the Giro d’Italia are of great strategic value to the team. They have increased their lead over TotalEnergies to almost 2500 points, which virtually assures them that they will have the wildcards to the entire WorldTour in 2024, along with Lotto Dstny. Both teams have improved their sporting level and planning after suffering relegation last season.

The points scored by Corratec Selle Italia were also very important for them to stay in the top 50 in the team ranking. The Italian squad had a Giro above expectations and came close to winning a stage with Karel Vacek. As a result, they are on track to finish among the top 50 teams and be eligible for next year’s Giro d’Italia. Most likely, only Team Novo Nordisk will be excluded from being eligible for Grand Tours in 2024.

Olympic Ranking

The 2023 nation rankings (up to the Tour of Guangxi) will be taken into account to allocate places for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Right now, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Slovenia and Denmark would be the countries that could take the maximum of 4 cyclists to the men’s Olympic race. On the other hand, Spain is falling behind after Juan Ayuso and Carlos Rodriguez suffered injuries in the first part of the season. You can check your country’s position in the following chart.

In the women’s classification, it is almost certain that the Netherlands and Italy will be able to take 4 cyclists to Paris 2024. However, Australia, Belgium and Switzerland are just ahead of Great Britain, France and Poland. Having one more cyclist in the race will be a significant tactical advantage.

Roglič Rewrites History with Huge Giro d’Italia Comeback

Despite a dropped chain on the final climb, Primož Roglič won both the stage 20 time trial on Monte Lussari and the Giro d’Italia 2023 in dramatic fashion. The Slovenian lost around 15 seconds due to the incident but Geraint Thomas did not have enough watts and cracked in the final part of the climb that seemed to never end for the Welshman.

Giro d’Italia Stage 20 ITT 2023 profile by La Flamme Rouge

Monte Lussari probably is the hardest climb in cycling as it is very steep with a poor road surface, making even Roglič and Thomas look slow whilst pushing over 6 w/kg. That being said, it is hard for anyone to ride on 19-21% gradients and look like they are flying to the naked eye. The false flat 10.8 kilometres at the start were done with a time-trial bike while before the climb the riders changed to a road bike – Geraint Thomas even changed his helmet (very slowly), saving weight and making his head cooler for the climb.

It was a near-perfect 15 degree temperature on the climb for climbing. On such a steep climb even lower temperatures might have been better as riders are going so slow that there is very little cooling from air resistance like on a 7-8% gradient. On the climb, Thomas lost 37 seconds to Roglič, doing 6.26ᵉW/Kg for 29:27 min. The chain drop cost the Slovenian around 15 seconds or 0.05 ᵉW/Kg (including the time when the bike stopped and the lost time due to inertia). Without it he would have beaten Thomas by 52 seconds in the time trial or 0.20 ᵉW/Kg on the climb.

Roglič’ 6.46 ᵉW/Kg* for 28:35 min (excluding time lost to the mechanical) is not that impressive by 2023 standards but it was enough to win against Thomas for whom this was the worst possible climb as a bigger GC rider. It is not a surprise that the very difficult third week prior to this time trial took its toll on the riders compared to ‘fresh’ performances earlier in the year.

There were no big surprises in this time trial. Sepp Kuss had the second-best climbing time while the 21-year-old American Matthew Riccitello, who already pushed good watts in the Tour of the Alps, was eighth fastest on the climb which suited a sub-60-kg rider very well.

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There have not been many mountain time trials at the WorldTour level since 2014. Ollon Villars featured twice in Romandie (2018 and 2022), Monte Grappa (2014), Alpe di Siusi (2016) and Monte Lussari (2023) in the Giro d'Italia, Krabellin (2016) in the Basque Country and La Planche des Belles Filles (2020) in the Tour. It is hard to compare them to each other as some of them had more kilometres before the climb like in the 2020 Tour or the Krabellin ITT started with a climb and concluded with 10 kilometres of descending and false flat. The only true mountain time trial with just a climb in it was in the 2018 Ollon Villars ITT.

Even in the Foliforov time trial, the first kilometres were false flat and the climb was at a middle altitude which is why we calculated his performance at 6.48 ᵉW/Kg for 25:40min but equivalent to 6,85 ᵉW/Kg at sea level. Would the 2016 Foliforov win the 2023 Monte Lussari time-trial? Probably not because of his equipment and position on the false flat kilometres at the start of today's stage but he would have been very close to Roglič.

Roglič in 2018 did the Ollon Villars ITT at 6.76 ᵉW/Kg for 25:14 min, losing only 4 seconds to Egan Bernal. On paper a superior performance to today, but it was the third stage of Romandie before the mountain days and it was a pure mountain TT, while Monte Lusari was after three weeks with multiple 4500-5200 kilojoules days in high mountains in the last few days.

Yverdon-les-Bains - Swiss - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Primoz ROGLIC (Slowenia / Team Lotto NL - Jumbo) pictured during the 72nd Tour de Romandie (2.UWT) stage 3 from Ollon to Villars (9.9 KM) ITT Tim Tril individuele tijdrit tijdrijden - photo RenŽ Vigneron/Cor Vos © 2018

Would the 2023 Giro Roglič lose to Pogačar in the 2020 Tour ITT? Yes, in terms of the stage, but it would have been very close between keeping or losing the yellow jersey. Nonetheless, Roglič has won the Giro and now only the Tour de France is left. The Slovenian has won 6 out of the 7 big one-week races (1x Paris-Nice, 2x Tirreno-Adriatico, 1x Volta a Catalunya, 2x Basque Country, 2x Tour de Romandie, 1x Criterium du Dauphine) and only the Tour de Suisse is left from those.

Monte Lussari - Italy - cycling - Primoz Roglic (SLO / Team Jumbo-Visma) pictured during Giro dÕItalia 2023 - 106th Edition - stage - 20 fromTarvisio to Monte Lussari ITT (18.6km) - 27/05/2023 - Photo: Miwa iijima/Cor Vos © 2023

It will be hard for Roglič to win the Tour but 2023 still might be his best shot as Remco Evenepoel is most likely not doing it this year and Pogačar's form is questionable after his injury from his crash in Liege. Juan Ayuso and other U23 super talents are still developing and both Pogačar and Vingegaard still will be very likely in their prime for some time from 2024 onwards. No one will expect Roglič to win the Tour after the Giro as no one has done it since Marco Pantani in 1998, but without the pressure perhaps it is the best time to try.

Roglič Destroys Tre Cime di Laverado Record before Final ITT

The Queen stage of the Giro d’Italia 2023 featured a very difficult parcours, but the GC teams all picked a conservative strategy to wait for the final climb, with no one daring to try a mountain raid or pacing hard on the early high mountain passes. Fortunately for the interest in tomorrow’s time trial, Geraint Thomas, Primož Roglič and Joao Almeida remain within a minute of each other with GC still to play for.

Giro d’Italia stage 19 2023 profile by La Flamme Rouge

The GC teams rode the start of the queen stage of the 2023 Giro defensively, with no satellite riders making the breakaway and the closest GC threat being Buitrago, over 10 minutes down. The pace on the early climbs was not fast and even on Passo Giau (9.8 km, 9.3%) the peloton was huge. 5.40 ᵉW/Kg for 36:04 min on Giau was 3:19 min slower than Egan Bernal’s time in the 2021 Giro which was in much more unpleasant conditions. At the crest, the group was around 35-40 riders deep as INEOS pace with Swift and Puccio was slow but Jumbo-Visma and UAE-Emirates were not willing to contribute and make the race harder.

GC group going slowly up Giau

On Passo Tre Croci (8.0 km, 7.2%) the group was reduced by a much harder pace from Laurens De Plus but after the climb, there were still 17 riders left. 22:42 min at 5.70 ᵉW/Kg definitely did some damage as the stage was heading into the sixth hour and the it seemed that De Plus paced harder at the end of the climb. Thymen Arensman before the Tre Cime di Lavaredo climb spent 5122 kilojoules for 5:32h which is 13.61 kj/kg/h. A very hard stage as the mountain passes were above 2000 metres sea level but it could have been harder if one of the big teams fully committed.

Pouring rain on Tre Croci

Like last year on the Passo Fedaia stage, the riders saved their bullets for the final steep ramp. Tre Cime di Lavaredo (3.7 km, 12.11%) included extended sections with a 16%+ gradient.

Primož Roglič before the climb even changed to a bike that had a 40-tooth single chainring with a 12-speed 10-44T cassette. It allowed Roglič to spin at his optimum cadence on the steep pinches, despite pushing over 6 w/kg. Probably it was a test before the stage 20 time trial which includes the steepest climb that has been used in any recent Grand Tours with a 21.6% steep 500-metre section.

Mega cassette on Roglič’s new bike

Despite the steep gradients, there was not much action on Tre Cime as Roglič and Thomas stayed together practically until the finish. Both tried to attack but their ᵉW/Kg was too close to make a gap even a 10%+ steep climb. Roglič in the end sprinted to a 3-second gap over Thomas while Joao Almeida trying to hold a steady tempo as always lost 23 seconds to the Slovenian.

Tre Cime di Lavaredo – Italy – cycling – Primoz Roglic (SLO – Jumbo – Visma) – Geraint Thomas (GBR – INEOS Grenadiers) pictured during Giro dÕItalia 2023 – 106th Edition – stage -19 from Longarone to Tre Cime di Lavaredo (183km) – 26/05/2023 – Photo: Luca Bettini/SCA/Cor Vos © 2023

As the climb went up to 2316 metres, the watts were not particularly high as at altitude it is way harder to push the same watts as on climbs that start at sea level or close to it. Primož Roglič did Tre Cime in 14:20 min with 6.43 ᵉW/Kg. It was a new record as Vincenzo Nibali in 2013 (15:02 min) and Danilo Di Luca in 2007 (15:01 min) were way slower but in the 2023 Giro the tempo on previous climbs was not high and everything was saved for this final effort. At sea level we estimate that Primož Roglič would have been able to push 7.01 ᵉW/Kg doing the same effort on such gradients. This huge difference sea level effort and Tre Cime (average altitude 2077m) of 0.58 ᵉW/Kg really shows how much altitude can influence wattage output.

The stage was won by Santiago Buitrago from the breakaway. The lightweight Colombian beat the 75 kg Derek Gee by 51 seconds on the rampas inhumanas which was made for Buitrago and seemed almost unfair for Gee. Thomas is ahead of Roglič by 26 seconds and Almeida by 59 seconds and everything can happen in the final time trial.

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This 18.6 kilometre long mountain time trial will decide the Giro. Based on the climbing performances this week, Roglič and Thomas are very close but anything can happen as the Tour de France 2020 Stage 20 proved. Even Almeida still has left a small chance to win like this teammate Pogačar did three years ago. Currently, the betting odds for the title are @ 1.40 for Thomas, @ 3.00 for Roglič and @ 23.00 for Almeida.

Giro d'Italia stage 20 profile by La Flamme Rouge

There is a 10.8-kilometre false flat section before Monte Lussari but most of the time will be spent on the climb. The Monte Lussari road surface is not of the best quality. It is a pure w/kg battle and the riders will change for a road bike at the beginning as aerodynamics are not as important as the weight on 15%+ gradients.

American Eagle Sepp Kuss Puts Almeida Under Pressure | Giro d’Italia 2023 Stage 18

Geraint Thomas is defending the Maglia Rosa well, being the only rider that has not lost time on a mountain stage to his rivals Joao Almeida and Primož Roglič. Thomas finished together with Roglič, while Almeida was dropped by Sepp Kuss’s acceleration on the steep Coi climb, losing 21 seconds to his main rivals.

Giro d’Italia Stage 18 2023 profile by La Flamme Rouge

It was another hard mountain day in the Giro with huge kilojoules before the decisive climb. The GC teams probably were saving some bullets for the next two stages which includes a very hard road stage and a mountain time trial with inhumane gradients. Brandon McNulty in the peloton spent 4121 kilojoules for 4:18h which is 14.19 kj/kg/h, a very hard day in the saddle before the steep Coi climb (5.3 km, 9.8%). Before it came the Forcella Cibana (9.7 km, 7.7%), where the peloton did 5.70 ᵉW/Kg for 28:53 min – definitely enough to hurt the legs with only a short descent before the very steep Coi.

There were doubts about Primož Roglič as he lost time on Monte Bondone to Joao Almeida and Geraint Thomas on Tuesday and was seen multiple times at the back of the group when the attacks flowed during breakaway formation earlier in the stage. INEOS or UAE did not try to pace hard to test Roglič late in the stage, which ended up being the right decision as the Slovenian was reborn from the ashes. On the steep Coi section, pure climber Sepp Kuss put up a strong performance with only Roglič and Thomas able to follow his acceleration. Joao Almeida as usual set his own tempo with the help of his teammate Jay Vine. Almeida was not far back but it was important to catch the leaders as there was a descent and small climb after Coi with more moderate gradients to the finish.

Val di Zoldo – Italy – cycling – Sepp Kuss (USA – Jumbo – Visma) – Primoz Roglic (SLO – Jumbo – Visma) ictured during Giro dÕItalia 2023 – 106th Edition – stage -18 from Oderzo to Val di Zoldo (Palafavera) (161km) – 25/05/2023 – Photo: Luca Bettini/SCA/Cor Vos © 2023

Sepp Kuss did 6.70 ᵉW/Kg for 11 minutes on the steep section and 6.38 ᵉW/Kg for 18:31 min on the whole climb, as the first part was still relatively slow with INEOS just controlling the gap to the breakaway. Regardless, the late action was enough to make big splits in the GC group that was tired after 4000 metres of elevation gain. Almeida, thanks to the pacing of Vine, lost only 6 seconds on the Coi climb itself but then nearly crashed on the descent as the Australian went too fast in a corner.

On the final part of the stage, Roglič was left alone with Thomas with the Slovenian doing most of the work. But it was worth it, as Almeida was without Vine and in the end lost 21 seconds despite being almost back to the leading duo by the end of the short descent off Coi. There were no bonus seconds on the line as the breakaway won with the Italian champion Filippo Zana winning a sprint against Thibaut Pinot, after the Frenchman did a good lead-out for the Jayco-AlUla climber.

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The next stage will be a cruel one, with multiple mountain passes before Passo Giau where Egan Bernal danced away from his rivals on a rainy shortened stage in the 2021 Giro. Passo Tre Croci and Tre Cime di Laverado finish off the stage, with very steep ramps sure to create some gaps. Roglič, Thomas and Almeida are close in the GC but every second will matter in the final mountain time trial. Thomas definitely is happy with this situation but INEOS, Jumbo and UAE all should try to gain time if there is an opportunity and if their team leader feels good. No one can predict what could happen on the stage 20 time trial as the 2020 Tour showed - bad legs on extended 15-20% gradients can cost minutes.

Giro d'Italia Stage 19 2023 profile by La Flamme Rouge

Geraint Thomas Career Performance On Monte Bondone | Giro d’Italia Stage 16 2023

The Giro d’Italia finally delivered some action in the GC group on Stage 16 with a powerful initial attack from Joao Almeida and counter from Geraint Thomas putting huge pressure on Primož Roglič. Almeida took the stage on the same time as Thomas who did perhaps his best climbing performance whilst the Slovenian was rescued by Sepp Kuss to lose ‘only’ 25 seconds.

Giro d’Italia Stage 16 2023 profile by La Flamme Rouge

Stage 16 was the first of three big mountain road stages in the final week of this Giro d’Italia. Everything was decided on the mighty Monte Bondone (21.7 km, 6.6%), a very long and irregular climb with shallower sections in the middle and the end. Jumbo-Visma had been riding defensively since Evenepoel abandoned on the first rest day and there were doubts about how subsequent crashes might have affected Roglič.

The wind up Monte Bondone was neutral with some headwind (red sections) section in the steep part and tailwind (blue sections) at the end where the road was 4-5% gradient. It was not an easy race before the final climb, with the peloton accumulating big fatigue. The race leader Bruno Armirail did 4885 kilojoules for 5 hours before Bondone which is 13.95 kj/kg/h at 70 kg – one of the highest total kilojoule expenditures before a final climb in recent years.

Monte Bondone wind map

After Hessman and Rohan Dennis emptied their tanks on the first third of the climb, UAE-Emirates were happy to take over and pace with Davide Formolo on the shallower middle part of the climb. It was the first big sign that Almeida would finally attack on a mountain stage. The gap to the strong breakaway was melting fast and riders were struggling in the peloton like Armirail and Carthy.

Formolo pulling in the peloton

After Formolo was done, Jay Vine did a short hard pull, reducing the group to under 10 riders but leaving Almeida alone with over 8 km remaining. Almeida continued to hold a high tempo like a time-trialist before Zana was collected from the breakaway who then paced for some time for his teammate Dunbar. With 5.9km to go the Portuguese star attacked in a headwind section, after Kuss did not begin to set a tempo, and was riding just three seconds ahead of the American who was pulling Roglič, Thomas and Dunbar. It was unusual to see Almeida racing in this fashion as he has typically ridden defensively or at his own tempo 15 seconds behind a group.

Almeida hurting the GC favourites

A few minutes later Geraint Thomas accelerated and bridged quickly to Almeida in a tailwind section, while Roglič was badly hurting and struggling to hold Sepp Kuss’ wheel. Both Almeida and Thomas were incentivised to work together as the huge favourite Roglič was left behind and this was the perfect time to gain time on the Slovenian.

Thomas working with Almeida to put more time on Roglič

Almeida won the sprint against Thomas and won his biggest stage yet. Roglič with Dunbar lost only 25 seconds, which is not as much as it could have been after being properly dropped with 4.6 km remaining. Today was a career performance from the Irishman who was snubbed multiple times by INEOS and was not selected for the 2022 Giro at the last moment, giving a chance to youngster Ben Tullett. Other GC riders Caruso, Rubio, De Plus, Arensman, Kamna and Carthy lost over a minute on this hard day.

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It was a hard stage and the climb did not suit high watts as it was irregular with shallow sections, which negatively impacted the eventual ᵉW/Kg. Despite all of that, Joao Almeida did a huge performance on Monte Bondone pushing 5.94 ᵉW/Kg for 54:54min. An extremely high level after such a hard stage and conditions and the shallower middle phase.

It is a career-best ᵉW/Kg performance for Thomas. A third week in a rainy Giro d'Italia and close to 5000 kilojoules spent before the final climb makes this performance even more impressive and there is no doubt he is in his career-best shape at age 36 (will turn 37 on 25th May). There are still three big GC days left this week and there might be even more surprises this Giro.

Another Disappointing Mountain Stage in The 2023 Giro d’Italia

After a big drama, the Queen stage of Giro d’Italia was shortened from 199 km to 75.0 km with the exclusion of Grand St Bernard Pass prior to the Croix de Couer, making a fairly easy day for the GC riders.

Giro d’Italia stage 13 2023 by La Flamme Rouge

The stage started right at the bottom of the mighty Croix de Couer climb (15.5 km, 8.6%). Riders knew the first hour of the race would be very hard and did warm up on turbo trainers before the stage finally started. It was not raining at the start and the weather conditions definitely were not extreme when the race began.

Crans-Montana – Swiss – cycling – Green Project – Bardiani CSF – Faizan pictured during Giro dÕItalia 2023 – 106th Edition – stage -13 from Borgofranco dÕIvrea to Crans-Montana (207km) – 19/05/2023 – Photo: Luca Bettini/SCA/Cor Vos © 2023

As the race was shortened and it started up a long climb, the breakaway formation would be decided how much w/kg a rider can push for 50 minutes. It was not an easy task as Jack Haig dropped early from the peloton and Jay Vine exploded after trying to get into the breakaway. In the end, it was formed by seven strong riders. Thibaut Pinot, Einer Augusto Rubio, Jefferson Alexander Cepeda, Valentin Paret-Peintre, Matthew Riccitello, Derek Gee and Bruno Armirail. They did the climb in 48 minutes and 2 seconds with 5.90 ᵉW/Kg. A very impressive effort by Armirail and Gee who are both way heavier than the other pure climbers, weighing above 70 kilograms.

The peloton/GC group was not far away and lost only 1:55 min on the climb and pushed 5.62 ᵉW/Kg. After that, there was a treacherous descent, the first part being wet with a bad road surface. The breakaway gained a lot of time on the technical and long descent as it was worth to risk for the stage victory while the GC group did not need to go full gas down Croix de Couer.

At the base of Crans-Montana the breakaway’s lead was over 2:30 min and it was unlikely for the GC group to catch Pinot & Co as the stage was short with low kilojoules and the riders were relatively fresh. It was neutral wind on the climb which was good for attacking riders. The stage was won by Einer Rubio who did not respond to Pinot and Cepeda’s accelerations and rode the climb more conservatively. This strategy paid off as in the last metres, as not even Pinot could follow the lightweight Colombian who took his second World Tour win in 2023 after being victorious in the UAE Tour on Jebel Jais, where he attacked from the peloton and was ignored by the big GC teams. Rubio did the climb at 35:28 min which was not much slower than the peloton.

Considering the lack of fatigue before Crans-Montana, the tempo in the GC group was extremely low for 2023 standards. INEOS had no reason to blow up the climb with Primož Roglič being the likeliest to win the w/kg test and Jumbo-Visma elected to save their bullets for another day. The pace was so slow that Lorenzo Fortunato, Hugh Carthy and Eddie Dunbar all attacked at some point of the climb and gained a good margin. Only Carthy was not caught by the GC group and gained massive six seconds over Almeida, Thomas, Roglič, Caruso, Kamna, Dunbar and Kuss.

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Carthy did 6.11 ᵉW/Kg for 34:14 min and spent way more watts than the GC riders in the draft who pushed 5.95 ᵉW/Kg for 34:20 min. The drafting effect on a 7% gradient is still significant as the riders go uphill at 22.8 km/h and it is hard to make big gaps if the fatigue is low and there is not a strong team like Jumbo-Visma fully committing with a Kuss, Gloag, Bouwman, Dennis mountain train for Roglič. The GC action in the Giro d’Italia has largely been non-existent outside of the two time trials, and today was certainly one of the most disappointing mountain stages in recent history.

Kārlis Ozols (@CyclingGraphs)

Slowest Mountain Top Finish in 2023 | Giro d’Italia 2023 Stage 7

It was not the most exciting day in the Giro d’Italia first week. Surprisingly, the peloton decided to take a day off and allow one of the three breakaway riders, Davide Bais, Karel Vacek and Simone Petilli, to take a stage win on the mighty Campo Imperatore.

Giro d’Italia stage 7 2023 profile by La Flamme Rouge

It was a challenging 218.3-kilometre stage with more than 4,000 metres of elevation gain. It was not perfect for high w/kg performances but the final 3.9 kilometres at an 8.26% gradient with a finish above 2000 metres of sea level was sufficient to create some differences in the GC if a team had tried, despite the headwind.

Jumbo-Visma and DSM seemed interested in controlling the break formation. In the end, it was a classical four-man television breakaway with Davide Bais, Karel Vacek, Simone Petilli and Henok Mulubrhan, with the Eritrean dropping out of the group early. After every team refused to hold even a mediocre tempo in the peloton, it was clear one of these three breakaway riders would take the first pro win of their career with DSM having no interest in bringing the group back lest Leknessund lose his jersey. After a gruelling day out front, it was Davide Bais from EOLO-Kometa who was victorious, thanks to a 4.82 ᵉW/Kg for 14:25 min performance on the steep part of the Campo Imperatore. It is the second victory at the Giro for Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso’s team after Lorenzo Fortunato’s glorious breakaway win on Monte Zoncolan at the 2021 Giro. It might be the lowest w/kg performance for a mountain-top win in recent years in World-Tour but it is still a Grand Tour win that many teams passed on, so credit to those in the breakaway today.

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The peloton was sleeping for the whole climb but upped the tempo on the steep pinch at the finish. Remco Evenepoel was first from the GC group, doing 5.85 ᵉW/Kg for 11:44 min and getting extra UCI points for Soudal-Quickstep. It was surprising to see that INEOS or Jumbo-Visma did not try to test Evenepoel on Campo Imperatore after the Belgian crashed multiple times on Stage 5 which might have affected his performance.

The Climbs of Il Giro d’Italia 2023

Once again, the Giro d’Italia has presented a spectacular 2023 route with the hardest mountain stages in pro cycling. However recent history cautions cycling fans to lift their hopes too much, and it remains to be seen how many of them will actually take place. Next to the six mountain stages (three of them in the third week ), the parcours also features an extremely difficult mountain time trial to Monte Lussari and another two, mostly flat, time trials, which are 20km and 34km long respectively.

Remco Evenepoel, the big favourite for the Maglia Rosa, has already put on a show in the first of them. He beat Filippo Ganna by 22 seconds, with all GC contenders except Joao Almeida (29 seconds) already over 40 seconds behind. If the Belgian can keep this incredible shape for three weeks, it is hard to see him not winning, but especially the third week will give his opponents multiple chances to hope for a weakness.

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In this article we will preview all the decisive climbs of the Giro d’Italia 2023. This includes previous performances on the climbs, expected watts and predictions as to which riders each climb is suited towards. All watts and times are calculated using standard values for wind, draft, temperature and etalon weight of 60kg.

Lago Laceno, Stage 4.

The climb to Lago Laceno is a great short climb, that will be a good indicator of who the main contenders of Il Giro will be. With its 4,3km @ 8,74%, it is a very similar ascent to the Arrate Izua climb, on which Jonas Vingegaard performed exceptionally well a month ago, but can also be compared to Colle Passerino, where Joao Almeida lost over 3 minutes in the 2021 edition of Il Giro.

A similar scenario is very unlikely for Almeida, as he will have learned to fuel properly after this experience and a climb like this actually suits him quite well. Next to Almeida, Roglic and Evenepoel have also shown to be excellent on these climbs. If Remco rides this Giro with a similar strategy to his Vuelta last year, he can already blow this race apart on this climb, but such a scenario is more unlikely with the very difficult third week looming and his healthy time advantage from the opening time trial in the bank.

Les Praeres. Nava – Spain – cycling – Remco Evenepoel (Belgium / Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) pictured during 77th La Vuelta ciclista a Espa–a (2.UWT) – stage 9 Villaviciosa > Les Praeres. Nava (171.4km) – Photo: Luis Angel Gomez/SCA/Cor Vos © 2022

If Evenepoel really decides to split the race on this climb, the climbing record of Alex Zülle from 1998 is in danger. The record of 11’32min @ 7,20ᵉw/kg is undoubtedly fast and the performance even managed to drop Marco Pantani, who would go on to win the Giro that year, but an unleashed Evenepoel can go even faster.

ᵉW/KG Prediction: 7,30ᵉw/kg ~ 11’07min – 23’21km/h – 2029 VAM

Gran Sasso d’Italia, Stage 7.

Considering the four meter snow walls on the Grand Sasso currently, it is unclear if this stage can even take place as intended. Another possibility is that there will be issues to broadcast the race, like in 1999, when Marco Pantani won and set the climbing record of around 11’06min on the last ramp.

Hoogvliet – Netherlands – wielrennen – cycling – cyclisme – radsport – colorslide scan – archives – archief – stock – Marco Pantani – Giro D’Italia 1999 – photo Cor Vos © 2020

The watts on this final stretch (3,9km at 8,26%), which we calculate, will never seem as impressive, due to this only being the very last part of the full 26,5km at 3,4% climb. It is very irregular and consists of three main sections: First 13,8km at 5,9%, followed by an undulating 8,8km, before the final steep stretch mentioned above.

Due to the nature of the climb, action before the last 3,9km is almost impossible, but the long constant climbing might lead to surprising gaps in the last stretch. The main favourites should be fine here, but some of the secondary threats could already struggle to keep up. It will be especially interesting to see how Geraint Thomas will perform on this stage, as he was still struggling on the climbs in the Tour of the Alps and might have come into this race undercooked.

ᵉW/KG Prediction: 6,80ᵉw/kg ~ 10’13min – 22’90km/h – 1891 VAM

Croix de Coeur, Stage 13.

Stage 13 is the first monster mountain stage of the race, featuring 5212 meters of elevation gain and three massive climbs, two of which are to high altitude. The first ascent of the day, Col du Grand San Bernard, will already fatigue the riders massively, being 24,3km long and 5,5%. Topping out at 2470m, the mountain also serves as the Cima Coppi, the highest point of the race.

Croix de Coeur is an even tougher challenge, being one of the hardest climbs in pro cycling. The ascent is 15,4km long and 8,69% steep, topping out at 2167 meters of altitude. What makes this climb especially difficult, is that the hardest parts of the climb are in the second half, at higher altitude. After entering the Verbier town, the gradient kicks up to 9,2% for the last 8,7km.

The gaps at this point of the race will not be massive between the favourites, although the 34km time trial on Stage 9 will have badly hurt many GC ambitions, perhaps motivating some early attacks. Unfortunately, the long valley before the final climb, makes an attack on this climb very unlikely, especially with all the stages still to come. Therefore, this climb will sadly ‘only’ be used to add fatigue to the legs of the major contenders before the final ascent.

ᵉW/KG Prediction: 5,60ᵉw/kg ~ 50’20min – 18’36km/h – 1596 VAM

Crans Montana, Stage 13.

After the two massive altitude climbs before, the ascent to Crans Montana is certainly the easiest climb of the day. Without the super hard stage before, massive time gaps on this climb would be unlikely, as it is only 13km long and 7,21% steep. Thanks to the previous difficulties on the day, those gaps are very much expected however.

Due to stages with over 5000 meters of elevation gain being so rare in cycling, it is hard to predict which riders will perform on them. Nontheless, Remco Evenepoel should be the favourite, as he performs increasingly well, the harder the race gets. In the Volta a Catalunya he only managed to drop Roglic on the multi mountain stage, while the Slovenian was fine on both unipuerto mountain stages.

A domestique to watch out for on this stage is Jan Hirt, who always performs exceptionally on the hardest Giro mountain stages. He could be a massive help for Evenepoel on this day.

The Crans Montana ski resort has been the stage of legendary mountain stages, such as Laurent Fignon’s triumphant victory in the yellow jersey of the 1984 Tour de France, Lance Armstrong’s impressive time trial in the Tour de Suisse 2001 and Chris Froome’s first solid climbing performance in the Tour de Suisse 2011. The riders will not be chasing a record on this climb however, as this particular road to Crans Montana has not been used since routes are recorded.

ᵉW/KG Prediction: 6,50ᵉw/kg ~ 32’12min – 24’22km/h – 1746 VAM

Ronde van Zwitserland 26-6-2001 Crans Montana: Lance Armstrong wint de bergtijdrit en tevens de gele trui. Foto Cor Vos ©2001

Monte Bondone, Stage 16.

Right after the second rest day, another monster mountain stage is scheduled, where the riders will have to overcome 203km with 5851 meters of elevation gain! That is the most elevation gain on a Grand Tour stage since 2016, when the Giro participants had to ride over 5 categorised high altitude climbs on Stage 14. This stage is very similar to the Aprica stage (won by Jan Hirt) in last year’s Giro, which also was a very hard mountain stage right after the rest day, with no opportunity to attack before the last climb.

The action will only start on the second half of the Monte Bondone, as the previous climbs do not offer a good opportunity for a long range move and the first half of Monte Bondone is shallow and irregular. While the full climb is 22,1km at ‘only’ 6,56%, the last 8,4km at 7,8% offer a good opportunity to attack. Despite the enormous difficulty of the stage, the watts should be big and the gaps rather small, as the rest day is just before this stage.

At this point in the race of the race, Geraint Thomas should certainly have reached his peak, so it will be interesting to see how close he can be to the top favourites. He usually performs well on long, hard stages and could challenge here. Roglic on the other hand struggled mightily the last time he rode the final week of Il Giro. He has come a long way as a rider since, so he will most likely perform well too. The same goes for Joao Almeida, who struggled on the biggest climbs of Il Giro 2021, but has improved as a rider since and seems to be in the shape of his life currently.

Piancavallo – Italy – wielrennen – cycling – cyclisme – radsport – Joao Almeida (Portugal / Team Deceuninck – Quick Step) pictured during 103rd Giro dÕItalia (2.UWT) stage 15 from Base Aerea Rivolto > Piancavallo (185KM) – photo LB/RB//Cor Vos © 2020

This side of the Monte Bondone has not been used as a summit finish to a stage, so a new climbing record is almost a given. The nuclear climbing record from Ivan Basso was achieved on the other side of the climb, on the way to winning the 2006 Giro by nearly 10 minutes over the closest challenger.

ᵉW/KG Prediction: 6,10ᵉw/kg ~ 53’55min – 24’60km/h – 1614 VAM

Coi, Stage 18.

Stage 18 is quite overlooked among all these massive mountain stages, but the difficult finale also makes gaps possible. After the 9,7km long and 7,7% steep Forcella Cibiana, the hardest challenge of the day awaits: 5,9km at 9,41% to Coi. This is followed by a short descent and a final short ramp to the finish in Val di Zoldo.

Due to two hard stages following this one, it is rather unlikely, that the main contenders will go all out on this climb, unless one of them is committed to make up a massive gap on the GC leader, similar to Chris Froome in 2018. If the climb is raced hard, it should suit Evenepoel, Roglic, and Almeida, who have elite 20 minute power, while Geraint Thomas might struggle more.

As this scenario remains unlikely, an exciting breakaway battle could take place on this climb. Rigoberto Uran, who won a third week Vuelta stage last year, Buitrago, the winner of Giro 2022’s Stage 17 and Thibaut Pinot, who is back in top shape, are some of the riders to watch out for in such a scenario.

ᵉW/KG Prediction: 6,50ᵉw/kg ~ 18’01min – 19’65km/h – 1848 VAM

Passo Giau, Stage 19.

The stage of Egan Bernal’s never seen solo in 2021, Passo Giau, is back in the route of Il Giro. The altitude climb 9,7km at 9,51% is the third of five categorized climbs on Stage 19 and offers a launch pad for a long range move before the finale via Tre Croci and Tre Cime.

This stage is designed perfectly to make a long raid possible. 40 kilometers from the top of Giau to the finish is a good distance for a solo raid and satelite riders can be very helpful on the descent and on the undulating terrain between Tre Croci and Tre Cime. Joao Almeida is one of the riders, that might attempt such a raid, as he was willing to attempt a long solo in La Vuelta as well. Roglic and Evenepoel are two other obvious candidates attempt such an operation, if they need to gain serious time.

As the final two climbs and the upcoming mountain time trial offer enough ability to gain serious time, such a long range move is not extremely likely however. If the best riders go all out, Egan Bernal’s climbing record (32’45min @ 5,91ᵉw/kg) is very much breakable, but this scenario should not be expected.

ᵉW/KG Prediction: 5,70ᵉw/kg ~ 33’46min – 17’24km/h – 1638 VAM

Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Stage 19.

The ascent to Tre Cime is one of the most brutal finishing climbs in cycling, especially after a stage with 5423 meters of altitude gain like this one. The climb is 3,7km long and 12,11% steep with a median altitude of 2077m. After 18 tough stages and four altitude climbs on the day, it will be a pure battle of endurance.

It is very difficult to predict who will perform on a high altitude stage at the end of week three, but barring a dramatic blow-up, the usual candidates will most likely also dominate this stage. One rider I want to highlight for this stage is Hugh Carthy, who usually performs well on steep gradients in week three, so he should be expected to finish closer to the best than on other stages.

Alto de lÕAngliru – Spain – wielrennen – cycling – cyclisme – radsport – Hugh Carthy (GBR / Team EF Education First) pictured during 75th La Vuelta ciclista a Espana (2.UWT) stage 12 from Pola de Laviana > Alto de lÕAngliru (109.4KM) – photo Luis Gomez/Cor Vos © 2020

Tre Cime di Lavaredo has been the finish of multiple Giro stages, such as Lucho Herrera’s impressive win in 1989 or Nibali’s dominant ride in 2013, but the record was set in 2007. Danilo Di Luca climbed the ascent in 15’01min at 6,16ᵉw/kg, in pursuit of the Saunier Duval duo Ricco – Piepoli, who had escaped on the Passo San Pellegrino and Eddy Mazzoleni, who joined them on the descent from Passo Giau.

Despite all the difficulties in the stage and the race overall, given the current level of climbers it would be ignorant to believe that the best riders of 2023 will not break this record.

ᵉW/KG Prediction: 6,40ᵉw/kg ~ 14’23min – 15’43km/h – 1869 VAM

Monte Lussari, Stage 20.

After 3335 kilometers of racing, only the last, but possibly hardest, challenge of the race separates the pink jersey from overall victory: A 19km timetrial that includes the 7,3km long and 12,05% steep Monte Lussari. The steepest section of the ascent is 5,4km at 13,44%, before it gets slightly easier towards the top.

This climb will lead to some spectacular images, but the most interesting thing might be the team strategies regarding bike changes. One bike change before the climb will definitely be needed. These bikes for the climb could include some very rare and special gears, that will be needed to overcome the steepest sections of the ascent.

As cars will not be allowed on the climb, soigneurs will most likely sit on the back of motorbikes, holding a spare bike, in case a puncture happens. The same thing happened on the 2010 Plan de Corones time trial, as seen in the picture below.

Plan de Corones – Italy – wielrennen – cycling – radsport – cyclisme – Giro d’Italia – Ronde van Italie – 16e etappe San Vigilio di Marebbe – Plan de Corones – tijdrit – contre le montre – time trial – David Arroyo Duran (Caisse D’epargne) gevolgd door mekaniekr mecanicien op de motor – foto Cor Vos ©2010

Just like for the previous stage, predictions are hard to make, but considering his abilities, Remco Evenepoel will most likely be the favourite once again. Roglic’s physiological abilities are also perfect for this stage, but his record in Stage 20 time trials is very disappointing. No matter who the GC leader is at this point, he will be very nervous ahead of this stage, as a blow up could lead to a loss of over five minutes.

ᵉW/KG Prediction: 6,80ᵉw/kg ~ 26’52min – 16’30km/h – 1965 VAM

La Planche des Belles Filles – France – wielrennen – cycling – cyclisme – radsport – illustration – sfeer – illustratie supporters fans crowd Primoz Roglic (Slovenia / Team Jumbo – Visma) pictured during the 107th Tour de France (2.UWT) Stage 20 from Lure > La Planche des Belles Filles ITT (36,2KM) – photo JdM/PN/Cor Vos © 2020


Considering his superior ability in the time trials and tremendous climbing power, Remco Evenepoel is the clear favourite to win Il Giro d’Italia 2023. Stages with over 5000 meters of altitude gain will be a new experience for him however and the back loaded race with a very difficult third week means any mistake could be fatal. His team is among the best in the race and Jan Hirt is a proven performer on the hardest Giro stages, which is another advantage for Evenepoel.

San Salvo – Italia – cycling – Remco Evenepoel (BEL / Team Soudal – Quick Step) pictured during Giro d’Italia 2023 – 106th Edition – from Teramo to San Salvo (202km) – 07/05/2023 – Photo: Luca Bettini/SCA/Cor Vos © 2023

Primoz Roglic and Joao Almeida are the riders I see as the closest challengers, with Damiano Caruso and Geraint Thomas fighting for a podium spot as well. The very difficult route does make big surprises more likely however. Despite the 73 kilometers of time trial, the mountains should once again decide the overall classification of Il Giro.

Make sure to check in here during the race for watts estimations and articles on the various climbing performances over the course of the race.

Gabriel Stróżyk (@NaichacaCycling)

Vollering Does an All-Time Great Performance On Covadonga

La Vuelta Femenina did not disappoint this weekend, with crosswind controversy on Stage 6 leading to Annemiek van Vleuten taking a healthy lead over Demi Vollering in the General Classification. Today’s final stage presented Demi Vollering with an opportunity to recover that lost time on the steep slopes of Covadonga, but despite a great performance, Van Vleuten was good enough to defend her GC lead and win La Vuelta Femenina by nine seconds.

La Vuelta Femenina by Stage 7 2023

Vollering lost the leader’s jersey on Stage 6 due to taking a natural break at the worst time, leading to a 64 second loss to Annemiek van Vleuten. It was Movistar’s home ground and they had a pre-race plan which they executed perfectly.

Stage 7 finished on the mighty Covadonga climb (8.45km, 9.29% steep part). Vollering had to gain a lot of time and it was the perfect climb for it. Liane Lippert was pulling very hard from the base for Van Vleuten even though her teammate was the race leader and did not need to gain time. After Niamh Fisher-Black finished her pull Vollering started digging hard with 10.1 km to go and only Van Vleuten, Gaia Realini and Evita Muzic remained in the leading pack.

Vollering pushing hard on Covadonga

Van Vleuten was dropped with 5.4 km to go after an acceleration on the steep ramps by Gaia Realini. Vollering remained together with Realini who is performing exceptionally well in her first year with Trek-Segafredo. The Italian climber is only 21 years old and might be the best climber in the following seasons.

Van Vleuten struggling

After the climb levelled off with a few kilometres remaining, the gap to Van Vleuten kept increasing at a rapid rate. Realini stayed on Vollering’s after the short descent and lost 11 seconds in the final kilometre, with Vollering powering to the line to take the stage win.

The young Dutch star performed extremely well today, doing 5.35 ᵉw/kg for 31:01 min. This is only for the steep part but if the whole climb would be included with the descent then Vollering’s estimated power would be around 5.30 ᵉw/kg for 39 minutes but it is hard to calculate it accurately with the ups and downs in the final. On the power x time curve this effort is with the best in our database, while Van Vleuten is not at her 2022 Tour de France Femmes level yet.

Van Vleuten in the end lost 56 seconds but won the overall classification by nine seconds. Realini despite losing time in the early stages finished on the podium thanks to her exceptional climbing skills. Realini is around 40 kg heavy according to the Trek-Segafredo website and her etalon power of 40 kg on Covadonga today would be 5.65 ᵉw/kg for 39 minutes (full Covadonga). Her 60 kg normalized etalon power is by 0.36 ᵉw/kg lower and it is a huge disadvantage for her to ride with a UCI weight limit 6.8 kg bike compared to heavier riders.

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Vollering Beats Van Vleuten on Uphill Test | La Vuelta Femenina Stage 5 2023

On the first mountain top finish in La Vuelta Femenina 2023, Demi Vollering, the Queen of Ardennes was unbeaten. Even Annemiek van Vleuten could not outmatch the SD Worx superstar on the Mirador de Peñas Llanas climb despite Vollering being isolated for much of the finale.

La Vuelta Femenina by Stage 5 profile by La Flamme Rouge

Stage 5 ended with Mirador de Peñas Llanas. The stage itself was not the easiest one. The peloton did the Puerto Navafria (11.45 km, 5.8%) climb in the first half of the stage in 32 minutes and 31 seconds. According to Juliette Labous’ Strava profile, she pushed 265 watts (4.61 w/kg with 57.5 kg input weight). With 3:20 hours in the legs before the start of the climb, the fatigue definitely influenced the final.

Surprisingly, Trek-Segafredo were pacing the climb with Gaia Realini. The Italian has performed exceptionally well this season, shredding the GC group on Jebel Hafeet and finishing 3rd in La Fleche Wallonne. Realini was holding a high pace as in the group was her teammate Amanda Spratt however in reality Realini has already demonstrated she is the strongest climber on Trek-Segafredo. When Demi Vollering started pushing at the front of the group Spratt dropped while Realini was keeping up with the best climbers even after setting the pace.

Realini pushing hard in the GC group

Like on the Mur de Huy, Vollering was holding her own pace despite Annemiek van Vleuten sitting on her wheel. Vollering won all three Ardennes classics and has been on fire this season. With 450 metres to go Van Vleuten tried to drop Vollering on a very steep section, grinding hard out of the saddle, while Vollering remained seated. With 300 metres to go, Vollering started the final acceleration and dropped both Van Vleuten and Bauernfeind off her wheel.

Vollering vs Van Vleuten

Vollering did on the climb 5.48 ᵉw/kg for 13:25 min which is the most impressive climbing performance over 10 minutes in 2023. But that might change on Stage 7 which will finish up the mighty Lagos de Covadonga (13.3 km, 6.8%). Covadonga might suit more Van Vleuten as it is a long climb but Vollering is very strong this season. Realini also might perform better as she will surely not be pacing for Spratt who finished 15th while Realini was 5th, losing 27 seconds to Vollering.

Both Ricarda Bauernfeind and Evita Muzic are only 23 years old and did very well today, finishing in the top 5 close to Vollering. Marianne Vos lost more than 2 minutes on the climb which meant that Vollering became the new race leader with Van Vleuten being only 5 seconds behind in overall.

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