We have gotten away from doing race prediction Group Rides, mainly because many of us have gotten away from watching races. And normally when we do a race prediction post, we do it before the race begins. That opens the conversation up wider than doing it, say, before the final weekend of a grand tour. However, if you’ve been following our latest live coverage of the Giro d’ Italia, you’ll know that (almost) anything is still possible.
Big thanks, as always, to the erstwhile Charles Pelkey for doing what he does with Live Update Guy (tip jar here).
Pre-race favorites, like Vincenzo Nibali and Alejandro Valverde, were written off as they each endured a jour sans in the mountains. Surprise packages like Steven Kruijswijk and Esteban Chaves came to the fore, and then Kruijswijk crashed (probably out), while Chaves, currently in pink, looks decidedly vulnerable, and there is another day in the mountains on Saturday.
Of course Sunday should be a promenade into Torino, with a final sprint for the muscle men. The course ends two blocks from my friend Felipe’s apartment, so there will be at least one crazy Colombian waving a flag for Chaves there. If you’re in the neighborhood, shake his hand.
All of this is a long way of saying that, if you haven’t been watching, tomorrow might be a good time to tune in, because there will be everything to ride for, with four riders capable of winning the GC, although Kruijswijk, the Dutchman, may not start. Saturday features three Category 1 climbs, and a steep ramp to the finish atop a Cat 3. Expect early attacks from Valverde and his team, as they try to force a separation early, while Chaves will be playing defense. Could Nibali’s descending skills make the difference?
This week’s Group Ride asks, have you been watching? What have you seen that impressed you? Who disappointed? And who will win, Chaves, Nibali or Valverde?