Where's that GPS?
Stages 8 and 9 Re-cap:
Well, I believe it is safe to say that we had an eventful weekend!
A new Maglia Rosa after Stage Eight, Gianluca Brambilla (ETIXX - Quick-Step) and, during Stage Nine, the demise of Rigoberto Uran's (Canondale) GC hopes we can expect (I'll bet Zakarin and Chaves are hearing the fat lady sing as well). If the race were to end today, a Belgian "Classics" team would have the top two podium spots! While this situation is unlikely to hold, a quick scan of the names currently occupying the top ten slots in GC will, with only a few exceptions, reveal the names of all of our true protaginists for the remainder of the Giro.
With the first week of the Giro behind us, the battle is coming into sharper focus and the names emerging are not unexpected: Nibali, Valverde and Landa. One of these men will probably be wearing the pink in two weeks...but which one? While these three will likely dominate the discussion, and it will be tempting to ignore the second tier of contenders, the performances of Dumoulin, Jungels, Kruijswijk, Majka and Fuglsang will be well worth watching - they seem determined to play a continued role in this stage race. There could be an upset from out of this group yet.
General Classification Standings after Stage Nine (Top Ten):
1. Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx - Quick-Step)
2. Bob Jungels (Etixx - Quick-Step) 0:00:01
3. Andrey Amador (Movistar) 0:00:32
4. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) 0:00:51
5. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 0:00:53
6. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 0:00:55
7. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) 0:00:58
8. Mikel Landa Meana (Sky) 0:01:18
9. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) 0:01:45
10. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) 0:01:51
Jersey Distribution after Stage Nine:
GC Leader (Pink) - Gianluca Brambilla
Points Leader (Red) - Andre Greipel
Mountains Leader (Blue) - Tim Wellens
Best Young Rider (White) - Bob Jungels
Stage 10: Campi Bisenzio - Sestola, 219 km
When engaged in battle, all generals strive to control the higher ground...a cycling stage racer values this territory as well. So it's into the mountains we go: This is the kind of stage that all Giro fans love - mountains all over the course and a final uphill grind to victory. All of our favorites are comfortable here and a shoot-out between Nibali, Valverde, Landa, and perhaps Majka and Fuglsang, seems to be in the cards. For this kind of sudden sharp uphill sprint to the finish, I tend to favor Valverde - but this seems wide open, especially if the big three keep each other in check allowing someone lower down the Giro totem pole to claim a nice victory in Sestola. Sadly for Tim Wellens, I suspect the Blue Jersey will have a new owner after this stage.
Stage 10 Map:
Stage 10 Profile: