Preview. Stage 19 of the Giro d'Italia will take the riders into the dolomites for an absolutely brutal day on the bike. It is the hardest stage of the race which features long and steep climbs, altitude and a summit finish at Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
The queen stage? Stage 19 of the Giro d'Italia will head deep into the Dolomites, for a day that has in the past seen weather affect - most noticeably in 2013. This is the return of Tre Cime di Lavaredo to the Giro d'Italia. 5400 meters of climbing, high altitude, multiple climbs, both long and steep. It's the stuff nightmares are made of for the sprinters.
Estimated start and finish times for Giro d'Italia stage 19: 11:35-17:15CET
Another flat start but that means little on this day. There's nothing the peloton can do to avoid the Dolomite monster. A set of iconic passes will be ridden, starting with the Passo Campolongo (4Km; 7%; 95Km to go), it comes after a few small climbs which already take the riders to 1800 meters of altitude.
After a small descent comes the first big climb of the day which is the Passo Valparola. It's 13.9 kilometers at 5.7%, not a brutal ascent but it's summit is at almost 2200 meters of altitude. It features tough gradients towards the end, the riders will begin to feel it in the legs. It summits with 71 kilometers to go.
Afterwards comes the Passo Giau. This is a brutal ascent, another one that goes up to over 2200 meters of altitude. It's a brutal 10-kilometer ascent at over 9%, constant with steep gradients and no restbite. The race has had plenty memorable moments on this pass, which in this stage ends with 40 kilometers to go.
The descent leads directly into Cortina d'Ampezzo and the next climb starts right away. Now the Passo Tre Croci which is 8 kilometers at 7.2%. It's a climb, like several others on the day, that could be attacked hard, but is unlikely because of the brutality of what still follows. It ends with just over 13 kilometers to go.
There's no descent following, essentially a plateau section which leads to a sharp ramp of 1 kilometer at 11.4% which features a ramp of 18%. But this is still all in anticipation of the official ascent to Tre Cime di Lavaredo, which sees the finish line at 2300 meters of altitude.
The climb is 3.7 kilometers at over 11%. This is, and I cannot stress it enough, a matter of survival. Here teammates matter almost nothing, all riders just have to put in the pace they can sustain to the finish and hope for the best. The fatigue (both from the race and the day), the brutal gradients and the altitude make it possible for massive breakdowns on this beautiful but horrific road up the mountain.
The wind will be calm within the mountains, and the rain has low but a few chances of coming. It should be a regular and warm day in the mountains however it should all come down to the mountains.
Geraint Thomas - Things are going just the way INEOS needs. Neither Jumbo or UAE tried using their numbers to attack once again, and in this brutal terrain De Plus and Arensman will be able to control everything deep into the race as neither team has second GC cards and the gaps to the rest are big. Thomas remains consistent, and only has to stay in the wheels now. His gap is decent into the time-trial, now he has reasons to race even more defensively.
Primoz Roglic - Roglic moved up to second today but this still won't do. The time-trial gives no guarantees to any of the three riders so he does have to make moves to improve his chances of winning the Giro. Jumbo can push the race hard, and Sepp Kuss is proving to be a vital domestique that assures the team doesn't have to take big risks with breakaways. The mammoth amount of climbing won't be ideal for him, but Tre Cime di Lavaredo could fit him quite well.
João Almeida - Almeida struggled a bit today but this stage will suit him. Like Roglic, he's likely too close to pink to take big risks. UAE have enough quality to launch riders into the breakaway, but I also think they won't do anything crazy. He has the form however, and now he needs once again to attack the race if he wants to win it.
The rest of the GC battle, it isn't the most exciting thing to say but I believe it'll be the same as today. A few outsiders will join the breakaway, the rest will not really be seen as they are a level below the podium. They will make differences between themselves but away from the screen. Eddie Dunbar has now moved to fourth place. Damiano Caruso, Lennard Kämna, Andreas Leknessund all look fit in their position, Thibaut Pinot has KOM now and as always his ambitions remain open.
Einer Rubio, Ilan van Wilder and Hugh Carthy are in the fight but now have more than enough time back to try and get in the breakaway. It won't be easy to make it in front however with the flat start. Many riders have taken their success. In a day like this only a top climber can win, even from a break. Santiago Buitrago, Jack Haig, Lorenzo Fortunato and Jefferson Cepeda will be cards, with Sepp Kuss and Jay Vine at a great level but likely to remain in their domestique duties.
"It is difficult to imagine that he will be fit for the Tour of Slovenia" - UAE doubt Pogacar will race before Tour de France, but recovery is on track
Prediction Giro d'Italia 2023 stage 19:
*** Geraint Thomas, Primoz Roglic, João Almeida
** Ilan van Wilder, Einer Rubio
* Eddie Dunbar, Damiano Caruso, Hugh Carthy, Lorenzo Fortunato, Jefferson Cepeda, Jay Vine
Pick: Geraint Thomas