Giro d'Italia 2024 stage 14 preview - a time trial for the specialists

A virtually flat course means that this individual time trial is designed for the pure specialists to showcase their skills

Date: Saturday May 18, 2024
Distance: 31.2km
Start location: Castiglione delle Stiviere
Finish location: Desenzano del Garda
Start time: 13:20 CET
Finish time (approx): 17:09 CET

In 1859, the Swiss Calvinist Jean-Henri Dunant met Napoleon III to discuss diplomacy in Solferino, a small town near Castiglione delle Stiviere. Their meeting took place just after the Battle of Solferino, and, when witnessing the lack of care for the wounded soldiers, Dunant was moved to do something. He organised a relief effort, then later wrote a book about his experiences calling for the formation of an international organisation to alleviate such suffering. His ideas eventually led to the foundation of the Red Cross, the world-renowned humanitarian movement that continues to provide aid on an international scale today. 

In professional cycling, danger is always present. Crashes are accepted as an occupational hazard, and, though it’s often discussed what extra measures can be taken to mitigate their risk (especially in recent months, when a spout of serious crashes and injuries have caused shockwaves across the peloton), it’s understood that they can never be fully eliminated and that there is an inherent risk to taking part in the sport. And it’s not just crashes that pose a threat to the cyclists as Paris-Roubaix winner Sonny Colbrelli (who originates from today’s destination town of Desenzano del Garda) found out when a cardiac arrest at the end of a bunch sprint forced him into an early retirement, while at the peak of his powers. In-race aid is therefore an essential service, and we’ve already seen this year how quickly and crucially they work — at the horror crash at Itzulia Basque Country in which riders such as Jonas Vingegaard were precariously and seriously hurt, ambulances arrived at the scene immediately and medical staff gave each victim the treatment they needed, helping save a situation that could have been fatal. 

Time trials are one of the safer disciplines of the sport, as riders take the course one-by-one, not having to worry about touching wheels or jostling for space. Today’s time trial will be an especially safe affair for most, as everyone apart from those few still with high places on the overall classification to defend, and specialists aiming for the stage victory, can afford to take it easy, the only requirement being that they finish within the time limit. But for the GC riders of this Giro d'Italia, this is a day to go all-in, and a stage that marks the beginning of the final phase of the race and the reignition of the fight for the maglia rosa.

While the rest of that final phase is made up of mountain stages, this is a chance for the more rounded GC riders to land a significant blow on those who are purer climbers. And unlike the time trial on stage seven, this one really is for the specialists, with a virtually flat parcours that can enable the heavier riders to really gain an advantage over the lighter ones who are more at home going uphill, using their power and aero position to slice through the wind without having to worry about the effects of gravity.

Stage profile sourced via the Giro d'Italia website

Contenders

With a virtually flat course being designed towards the time trial specialists, we expect to see Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) showcasing his true talent in the race against the clock. He came so close on stage seven, even with the inclusion of a 6.6km climb in the finale, and kept the hot seat warm for a long time until Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) stormed to victory with one of the most spectacular time trials in recent years. However, with no climb at the end of this route, we would expect Ganna to have the edge over the man in pink. 

Ineos have two other time trial extraordinaires in the form of Thymen Arensman and Magnus Sheffield, both of who had strong TTs on stage seven placing fourth and third respectively. The British team’s GC contender, Geraint Thomas, will also need to have a good result here if he wants to remain where he is on the current standings before heading into the mountains. He is a strong time trialist and can produce good results against the clock, however, he wasn’t able to match the results of his teammates in the earlier stage. 

Current leader in the youth classification, Antonio Tiberi (Bahrain-Victorious) proved to be a contender for a time trial stage. He came sixth on stage seven and has a mixed bag of results when it has come to a TT. If he can continue his good form, we expect to see another top 10 from Tiberi, putting more time between himself and second place in the youth classification. 

Daan Hoole could be a contender for Lidl-Trek. He is another specialist in his field and while he didn’t have the best result in the race’s earlier TT, he is not a climber and therefore, the final climb to the finish would have lost him time. But on this stage, with no climb to contend with, we expect to see his skills on display on this stage. Dani Martínez (Bora-Hansgrohe), Luke Plapp (Jayco Alula), Josef Černy (Soudal–Quick-Step) and Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) could all be contenders for stage victory. 

Prediction 

Coming so close on stage seven, we are predicting that Filippo Ganna will not be beaten by Pogačar on this stage and will take home the glory for himself.

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