Velominati Super Prestige: Giro d’Italia 2015

This is the most exciting thing that’s happened in Cycling since April. Yes, that’s a full two weeks with nothing exciting happening and its been killing me. I know its been killing you, too.

I love the Giro, the master alchemist of bad weather and big mountains that keeps the racing exciting from the first day through the last. You can generally count on enough climbing in the first week to see the leadership bounce around like one of those singing ping pong balls on Sesame Street. The race has its fair share of provenance as well, with many a legendary battle fought between legendary riders.

This year’s race is also remarkable for the fact that a GC rider is not only racing both the Giro and the Tour, but for Contador’s publicly stated objective of doing the Giro-Tour double, a feat not matched since Pantani crushed it back in 1998. That is an awesome goal, I just wish it was a goal set forth by a rider I could get enthusiastic about. A quick scan of the start list has me wondering who is made of the same stuff Bertie, and I’m coming up short. Uran Uran and Pozzovivo are the standouts; and I have serious doubts about Porte being able to come up with the goods, not to mention my boy Ryder who, despite having actually won the Giro, does not inspire confidence in his ability to repeat the feat. It is looking like energy bars may be Contador’s biggest rival for the title, like in last year’s Tour.

Now that I’ve given you three paragraphs of useless drivel that you’ve probably already skipped over, I feel comfortable getting down to Road Tacks. This is the Giro, people, lots of points at stake. And those points are going towards amazing prizes including a Jaeger frame and a Café Roubaix wheelset. There is plenty of time for you to Delgado the thing, too, so my advice is that you avoid doing that. Give yourself enough time to enter your picks so if something has gone amuck, you have time to hit “reload” or come back V minutes later to try again before the event closes. Remember, your procrastination in this matter will not result in the only Keeper with database skills diving into the backend to enter your picks for you. (And if you do encounter a problem, please be so kind as to take a screenshot and upload it as the descriptor “it didn’t work” doesn’t help us debug the problem.)

The scoring for the Grand Tours is a tad more involved than the one-day races, so look them over before making your prognostications. (One of the best things about the VSP is that I usually get to use the word “prognostication”, an opportunity one should always relish.)

So get your picks in before the countdown clock goes to zero, hit the go button, and good luck.

[vsp_results id=”32941″/]

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545 Replies to “Velominati Super Prestige: Giro d’Italia 2015”

  1. VSP PICKS (2nd Rest Day Swaps):

    1. Contador
    2. Aru
    3. Uran
    4. Pozzovivo
    5. Kreuziger
  2. Would love to just swap Contador and Aru to 1 and 2 and keep my other Aru in fourth for zero points… but that seems a bit of a piti violation. Here’s hoping Landa can continue his strong riding at the expense of Aru.

    It’s a bit ironic that I’m concerning myself with the piti principle as it relates to two Astana riders who probably shouldn’t even be riding the Giro to begin with. 

    C’est la vie.

    VSP PICKS (2nd Rest Day Swaps):

    1. Contador
    2. Landa
    3. Uran
    4. Aru
    5. Hesjedal
  3. Big gamble on some rest day swaps, but I’m in a Hail Mary situation now anyway.

    VSP PICKS (2nd Rest Day Swaps):

    1. Clenbutador
    2. Aru
    3. Landa
    4. Uran
    5. Konig
  4. @LeoTea

    Contador losing time to Aru after a puncture. Karmic payback for the Schleckanical in the 2010 TdF?

    Apparently it was Malacarne from Astana who crashed & delayed Tinkoff Saxo, that’s one way to sacrifice yourself for the team!

  5. @LA Dave

    Would love to just swap Contador and Aru to 1 and 2 and keep my other Aru in fourth for zero points… but that seems a bit of a piti violation. Here’s hoping Landa can continue his strong riding at the expense of Aru.

    Wow. Today couldn’t have gone any better for my attempt to salvage something from this VSP. Now if Amador can bump Aru back to fourth I’ll get about all I can out of it.

  6. I think I learned a couple important lessons since this is my first VSP… 1. pay attention when swapping picks. 2. be patient. 3. don’t count out the young guns.

  7. If only Amadour could pull Aru off the podium, my VSP would be saved!

    @frank

    @erik

    Why hasn’t Landa been on my radar before this?  What did I miss?

    Astana’s post-licence doping announcement?

    Hmmm.  It is an extraordinary performance.

  8. @Steampunk

    Quietly: that was some monster good riding from Ryder Hesjedal today.

    Agreed! Are we seeing a third-week surge from the big Canuck? Too late to win, but podium?

    Was Aru crying today? Clip I saw sure looked like it.

  9. @wiscot

    @Steampunk

    Quietly: that was some monster good riding from Ryder Hesjedal today.

    Agreed! Are we seeing a third-week surge from the big Canuck? Too late to win, but podium?

    Was Aru crying today? Clip I saw sure looked like it.

    Yeah I wondered that too.  Doped or not that had to hurt ‘coz it sure looked like it.

  10. Wanted to swap Landa for Porte but got skunked by the timer last night. Said “C’est la vie”. Now I realized there was a problem. Any chance I can get it switched now?

  11. @Teocalli

    @wiscot

    @Steampunk

    Quietly: that was some monster good riding from Ryder Hesjedal today.

    Agreed! Are we seeing a third-week surge from the big Canuck? Too late to win, but podium?

    Was Aru crying today? Clip I saw sure looked like it.

    Yeah I wondered that too.  Doped or not that had to hurt ‘coz it sure looked like it.

    You be the judge at 2:22 http://www.steephill.tv/players/youtube3/?title=Official+Stage+16+Highlights&dashboard=giro-d-italia&id=93tA6EvrioA&yr=2015

    Here’s the thing – does Aru ride for Landa now or will he still be given free rein depending upon how he feels. Right now Bertie’s looking pretty confident.

  12. @Michael Heusdens

    Wanted to swap Landa for Porte but got skunked by the timer last night. Said “C’est la vie”. Now I realized there was a problem. Any chance I can get it switched now?

    I can only suggest you take Rule #5 out to the garage and meditate long and hard on the rollers.

    In other news, karma seems to have my adherence to no rest day swaps paying off. Aru slipping to third has worked quite nicely.

  13. @Chris

    @Michael Heusdens

    Wanted to swap Landa for Porte but got skunked by the timer last night. Said “C’est la vie”. Now I realized there was a problem. Any chance I can get it switched now?

    I can only suggest you take Rule #5 out to the garage and meditate long and hard on the rollers.

    In other news, karma seems to have my adherence to no rest day swaps paying off. Aru slipping to third has worked quite nicely.

    Same for me, after briefly succumbing to weakness & making swaps I rescinded them. As it stands it’s a good job I did. Was then contemplating Landa in for Porte as my 2nd place but assumed it wouldn’t be worth it as Aru would finish ahead of him & wouldn’t be worth the penalty.

    Taking today as a sign from the almighty Merckx to have the strength to stand by my original picks.

  14. That was a fucking monster ride by Bertie, no other rider in the current peloton could have done that!

  15. @erik

    Why hasn’t Landa been on my radar before this?  What did I miss?

    Landa finished 5th in the 2010 Tour de l’Avenir, which is saying something, given that Nairo Quintana won, Andrew Talansky was second, and we also saw the first inklings of success from the likes of John Degenkolb, Tom Jelte Slagter, Darwin Atapuma, Michael Matthews, Michal Kwiatkowski, and Taylor Phinney in that year’s edition.  It was likely that result that got him off the Orbea team and onto Euskaltel for 2011.  Perhaps he would’ve been developed in time on the Basque squad if they had continued sponsorship, but let’s be honest: it was Euskaltel – he’d have had a shot at a mountain stage here and there, but probably lacked a strong and diverse team to have gone for a GC result even if he had been the de facto leader.

    Perhaps all he needed was a strong team and a chance.  With all of the pressure on Aru, all Landa needed to do was shepherd his leader, stay close, and he’d get a decent result.  Then again, this is Astana, and they have notorious past.  I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt based on his previous performances, but time will tell if the kid is a future contender or another of Astana’s fallen.

    In other news, I am loving Oleg Tinkov’s outrage over Astana’s and Katusha’s attack on Contador.  There’s an article on Cyclingnews that quotes him saying Astana and Katusha showed no class by attacking, and that five or ten years ago, there would have been more respect for the race leader.  Oh, the irony.  Does he not know about the Schleckanical five years ago?  He’s not going to find any sympathy in the peloton.  Payback’s a bitch, Oleg.

  16. @Steampunk

    Quietly: that was some monster good riding from Ryder Hesjedal today.

    Yes!  Epic ride and a master class in the five and dime.  Sure, his Giro didn’t go the way he had hoped, but that’s no excuse to just phone it in.  He rode with heart today.  Chapeau, sir.

    Also, loving Kruijswijk’s tenacity.

  17. Watch this stage it is as good as it gets, epic big mountain racing, incredible riding, Mikel Landa rides like a great, at 25, looks so good on a bike, took the win as he could sit on Kruijswijk and Contador, but he still put 30 secs into them BOTH, in the final kms, brilliant fuckin’ ride, and he looks fantastic doing it.

    Tough day for Aru, whether he cried or not who knows, but he didn’t give up. You can’t juice guts. (or can you..)?

  18. @Chica

    @Steampunk

    Quietly: that was some monster good riding from Ryder Hesjedal today.

    Yes!  Epic ride and a master class in the five and dime.  Sure, his Giro didn’t go the way he had hoped, but that’s no excuse to just phone it in.  He rode with heart today.  Chapeau, sir.

    Also, loving Kruijswijk’s tenacity.

    Glad to see others enjoying what has been a great race and not be as cynical as some of the other contributors to this site . Fuck me some of you exude hate .

  19. @piwakawaka

    Watch this stage it is as good as it gets, epic big mountain racing, incredible riding, Mikel Landa rides like a great, at 25, looks so good on a bike, took the win as he could sit on Kruijswijk and Contador, but he still put 30 secs into them BOTH, in the final kms, brilliant fuckin’ ride, and he looks fantastic doing it.

    Tough day for Aru, whether he cried or not who knows, but he didn’t give up. You can’t juice guts. (or can you..)?

    Love that you can enjoy his ride without giving a 5 point exposition  as to why he’s full to the gills.

  20. High Road, Chasing the Yellow Jersey is a great new novel by David Chauner, former Olympic cyclist, Hall of Famer, race promoter and journalist. Synopsis, reviews, how to order the paperback or ebook can be found on the author’s website: http://www.davidchauner.com

  21. @rockkk

    Oh, I’m plenty cynical.

    Watching today’s finale, as it briefly looked as though Hansen and then Paolini had got away—and thinking of how the breakaways enjoy much better odds at the Giro than the Tour, I couldn’t help being conflicted. The breakaways in the Giro are so much more fun to watch than the very predictable Tour stages where the riders are caught like Swiss clockwork at almost the same time every stage.

    So here’s what I’m wrestling with: the quality of the peloton in the Tour is light-years higher. Shouldn’t a cycling purist appreciate that more, even if it lends itself to less dramatic value for the spectator? Shouldn’t we acknowledge that more as a facet of sport, racing, and cycling. And something to be admired? In the Giro breakaways, success invariably comes less from the heroics up the road but rather by the mistakes made in the peloton to let them stay away.

  22. Well, I’m riding this one into the finish with the same team I started with, even if I’m out 2 riders and I need my #4 to somehow shed 10 minutes in 4 stages and my #2 need, but there was no way I was going to swap in an Astana rider.

    That said, and in response to @Steampunk, I am of the opinion that we Velominati value the spirit of the sport more than it’s technical execution. That is why rides such as Eros Poli on Ventoux or Le Blaireau’s 1980 LBL and the unpredictable drama of the Spring Classics will forever be hallowed in these halls; and Froome’s 2013 Maillot Jaune gets this. This is also why, despite my opinion of Astana, when I see that video of Aru shattering himself mentally and emotionally… I can find respect for the man.

    And speaking of Poli and the Giro – when asked by Cycle Sport magazine what he would like his epitaph to be, he said “Here lies Eros Poli, famous for being tall and coming last in the Giro d’Italia”.

  23. I’m quite able to enjoy the pro racing and also acknowledge there are plenty of unclean riders. I wish it was different, but sporting and money do bad things.

    I can separate the two and still enjoy the racing, the scenery, the dreams of riding on a PRO team with all that support…

    The only thing that bugs me about all of it is the fact that cycling, out of all the sports, is generally viewed as the dirtiest and I simply don’t believe that it is, just that most other sports have laughable testing/rules.

  24. @DeKerr

    Very well put. But let me push back and play devil’s advocate. Surely the panache you described is enjoyable not just to the aficionado but also to the non-cycling sports fan. But only a cyclist can appreciate the panache less heralded. It may seem dry, but watching the Hansens, Baks, Barrys, Getschkes, etc. toiling at the front of the peloton all day–and the supreme athleticism and power and work that requires: well, there’s magic in that, too, and one less noticed. That capacity to hold a breakaway as though on a string–and to reel it in with precision–demands a kind of accounting that takes years and years of training. To ride at the front for 200k is a ridiculous kind of panache we should appreciate more than we do. Shouldn’t technical proficiency matter more? After all, we demand that precision from our bikes. Why not the athletes who ride them so much better than we do?

  25. @Steampunk

    I’m no purist but I find the Giro much more compelling to watch, the biggest problem with the Tour is the stakes are too high and the fear of failure is over whelming, the Tour seems quite predictable, whereas the Giro? Who knows, and that’s what makes it AWESOME!

  26. @Steampunk

    True, and I am of the opinion you are more fidei defensor than devil’s advocate. The cyclist will watch Le Tour, not to see which GC specialist is staring at his power meter for 3 weeks, but to honour its history and to cheer the loyal lieutenants burning matches deep into the cave in service of their leader.

    And to hold out hope for moments like the Giro Stage 16 finish where the effort of one of those lieutenants is given its due.

  27. @rockkk

    I’m happy for you that you can ignore obvious anomolies in the Giro but the cycling fan has every right to remain cynical in the face of continuing displays of questionable performance. Too many solo wins from unproven riders. You asked Mikael “why the hate” and he responded with five reasonable points. Why don’t you respond to his “five point exposition” instead of condemning him for making it?

    For me, taken in the context of GT history, the Giro this year has had some highly questionable stage winners. History shows us that extraordinary performance + suspect team + cheating DS = a Dog in a Hat. Landa’s ride on Stage 16 takes the cake. If he rides for another 5 years and (A) repeats this kind of form more than once and (B) doesn’t get busted, I’ll be very surprised. That was completely NOT NORMAL. There was no hint of suffering from him as he raced this years most brutal stage – and then he puts 40 secs into Contador in the final 4k? Aside from being a complete cunt for sitting in for 40 then jumping at the finale, Landa looked like he was on the Sunday coffee ride. Kruijswijk and Contador visibly suffered (as did Aru!) Class from Contador to let Kruijswijk take the KOM points and finish line honors…

  28. @Harminator

    you can’t blame Landa for sitting on, his team leader was behind bleeding seconds on the mountain, his job therefore is too stay with Contador, not help him put more time into Aru and then take as many bonus seconds at the finish as he can, that is bike racing.

    I really, really hope all is legit with Landa, he rides so well.

  29. @Ron

    I’m quite able to enjoy the pro racing and also acknowledge there are plenty of unclean riders. I wish it was different, but sporting and money do bad things.

    I can separate the two and still enjoy the racing, the scenery, the dreams of riding on a PRO team with all that support…

    The only thing that bugs me about all of it is the fact that cycling, out of all the sports, is generally viewed as the dirtiest and I simply don’t believe that it is, just that most other sports have laughable testing/rules.

    Sums up my thoughts / reactions excellently.  Well said,  I can block out and acknowledge one side whilst still enjoying the spectacle and history and aura of the whole show.

  30. @Barracuda

    @Ron

    I’m quite able to enjoy the pro racing and also acknowledge there are plenty of unclean riders. I wish it was different, but sporting and money do bad things.

    I can separate the two and still enjoy the racing, the scenery, the dreams of riding on a PRO team with all that support…

    The only thing that bugs me about all of it is the fact that cycling, out of all the sports, is generally viewed as the dirtiest and I simply don’t believe that it is, just that most other sports have laughable testing/rules.

    Sums up my thoughts / reactions excellently.  Well said,  I can block out and acknowledge one side whilst still enjoying the spectacle and history and aura of the whole show.

    @Harminator

    @rockkk

    I’m happy for you that you can ignore obvious anomolies in the Giro but the cycling fan has every right to remain cynical in the face of continuing displays of questionable performance. Too many solo wins from unproven riders. You asked Mikael “why the hate” and he responded with five reasonable points. Why don’t you respond to his “five point exposition” instead of condemning him for making it?

    For me, taken in the context of GT history, the Giro this year has had some highly questionable stage winners. History shows us that extraordinary performance + suspect team + cheating DS = a Dog in a Hat. Landa’s ride on Stage 16 takes the cake. If he rides for another 5 years and (A) repeats this kind of form more than once and (B) doesn’t get busted, I’ll be very surprised. That was completely NOT NORMAL. There was no hint of suffering from him as he raced this years most brutal stage – and then he puts 40 secs into Contador in the final 4k? Aside from being a complete cunt for sitting in for 40 then jumping at the finale, Landa looked like he was on the Sunday coffee ride. Kruijswijk and Contador visibly suffered (as did Aru!) Class from Contador to let Kruijswijk take the KOM points and finish line honors…

    I cant argue with anything you said . That still doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the stage .In fact I’ll call it one of the best stages in  a GT for ages

  31. @Ron

    I’m quite able to enjoy the pro racing and also acknowledge there are plenty of unclean riders. I wish it was different, but sporting and money do bad things.

    I can separate the two and still enjoy the racing, the scenery, the dreams of riding on a PRO team with all that support…

    The only thing that bugs me about all of it is the fact that cycling, out of all the sports, is generally viewed as the dirtiest and I simply don’t believe that it is, just that most other sports have laughable testing/rules.

    Why cant I say it like that ? Agree 100 %.

  32. The only thing that bugs me about all of it is the fact that cycling, out of all the sports, is generally viewed as the dirtiest and I simply don’t believe that it is, just that most other sports have laughable testing/rules.

    i think the perception is because the gains are so significant compared to most sports. the gains for a sprinter are marginal, but a poor start can still lose the race, a footballer can be heavier and faster, but the tactics and team still decides he contest. In cycling the ability to add 1-2% over a 3 week GT, to chase when you should be tired, attack on the final climb, and generally grind the opposition into the ground gives the doper a much larger advantage than most other sports.

    There aren’t many sports with a big following that put the sort of demands on the body that a GT makes. similarly, with so little between the best, there are few sports where doping gives such a big edge.

  33. Damn! That was a fine day’s racing today. Great win for PhilGil – he was so stocked to get stage win #2. Great to see big Ryder’s not throwing in the towel either. I can’t see anyone touching Bertie, but as for the rest – plenty still to ride for.

  34. Great ride from Phil Gil today. He absolutely annihilated that descent!

    Ryder is sure showing a lot of heart the last few stages too. I hope for his sake he can break into the top 5 at least.

  35. For those watching the Giro on beIN, do you guys find the Copa America commercials annoying? Who the hell came up with the “make way for…” phrase lol. The “make way for Uruguay” one annoys me like no other. Guy is a little TOO excited.

  36. @Chica

    @erik

    Why hasn’t Landa been on my radar before this?  What did I miss?

    Landa finished 5th in the 2010 Tour de l’Avenir, which is saying something, given that Nairo Quintana won, Andrew Talansky was second, and we also saw the first inklings of success from the likes of John Degenkolb, Tom Jelte Slagter, Darwin Atapuma, Michael Matthews, Michal Kwiatkowski, and Taylor Phinney in that year’s edition.  It was likely that result that got him off the Orbea team and onto Euskaltel for 2011.  Perhaps he would’ve been developed in time on the Basque squad if they had continued sponsorship, but let’s be honest: it was Euskaltel – he’d have had a shot at a mountain stage here and there, but probably lacked a strong and diverse team to have gone for a GC result even if he had been the de facto leader.

    Perhaps all he needed was a strong team and a chance.  With all of the pressure on Aru, all Landa needed to do was shepherd his leader, stay close, and he’d get a decent result.  Then again, this is Astana, and they have notorious past.  I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt based on his previous performances, but time will tell if the kid is a future contender or another of Astana’s fallen.

    In other news, I am loving Oleg Tinkov’s outrage over Astana’s and Katusha’s attack on Contador.  There’s an article on Cyclingnews that quotes him saying Astana and Katusha showed no class by attacking, and that five or ten years ago, there would have been more respect for the race leader.  Oh, the irony.  Does he not know about the Schleckanical five years ago?  He’s not going to find any sympathy in the peloton.  Payback’s a bitch, Oleg

    If that was karma for the Schleckanical, I wonder what today was.  This blood feud could go on for generations.

    And thanks for the Landa info.  Much appreciated.

  37. @Roobar

    The only thing that bugs me about all of it is the fact that cycling, out of all the sports, is generally viewed as the dirtiest and I simply don’t believe that it is, just that most other sports have laughable testing/rules.

    i think the perception is because the gains are so significant compared to most sports. the gains for a sprinter are marginal, but a poor start can still lose the race, a footballer can be heavier and faster, but the tactics and team still decides he contest. In cycling the ability to add 1-2% over a 3 week GT, to chase when you should be tired, attack on the final climb, and generally grind the opposition into the ground gives the doper a much larger advantage than most other sports.

    There aren’t many sports with a big following that put the sort of demands on the body that a GT makes. similarly, with so little between the best, there are few sports where doping gives such a big edge.

    Bollocks! Of course the gains are marginal in sprinting, the race is only 9 seconds long, Carl Lewis anyone? Prick still has all his medals, way bigger cheat than Ben Johnson, the reason cycling gets such a bad rap is it has always been at the forefront of the fight against drug use, has in fact led the way, and consequently has the highest profile of sports, but let’s be really clear, there are cheats at the highest level in all sports, and athletes willing to do almost anything to win across the board.

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