Giro d’Italia 2018 – Stage 19 will go down in pro cycling folklore as one of the greatest attacks and comebacks we have ever seen in any race. In a sport with a history of drug problems, an attack of the magnitude we saw was always going to raise eyebrows and draw comparisons with Floyd Landis’ attack on Stage 17 of the 2006 Tour de France.
First up lets deal with the Landis comparison. We know that Landis was juiced for his ride. His ride was extraordinary for other reasons than just the subsequent failed drugs test. He attacked with 125km to go of a 200km stage with 4 mountains to climb. He bridged to the break, dropped them, then won alone in Morzine putting over 7 minutes into the yellow jersey, Oscar Pereiro, to take it back. The win was made even more extraordinary for the fact that he had basically fell apart on Stage 16 the day before losing 9 minutes to stage winner Rasmussen while in yellow. It was a staggering ride and an enthralling stage at the time but I think the comparisons to Froomes ride are unfair and I believe the only similarity is a long solo-break, in the mountains of a Grand Tour. For me, thats where the comparisons should end.
The dynamics of Froome’s ride, I think, are quite different. The stage length was shorter. The length of the break was significantly shorter. The number of climbs and the elevation during the break were less. The time gained was less. Froome and his Sky team clearly had a plan. A BIG plan. One last chance to go ‘all-in’. As it panned out, Tom Dumoulin was quickly isolated and the race became a pursuit between the two of them in contrast to Landis’ stage where Oscar Pereiro’s team didn’t really chase. I believe Froome made big chunks of his time up on the descents. We’ve seen footage of his DS ‘coaching’ him down while he went full-gas taking risks. We expected Dumoulin et al to reign Froome back in between the climbs but he was carrying Pinot, Carapaz and Lopez, who had their own podium and white jersey ambitions they were seeking to protect. A different race for them therefore the pursuit failed and Dumoulins chase ebbed away while he towed the sandbaggers onboard.
We now know from Velon data that Froome and Dumoulin’s power output for the stage was very similar too. Froome at 397w and 395w. Although Froome won’t confirm his weight, its generally accepted that he is lighter than Dumoulin which I believe is a good reason to believe the Froomedog’s numbers were believable and justification for the time difference.
Of course the haters are always gonna hate but I do find the conspiracy theories quite amusing. Velon delayed the release of the full power data not because there were gaps in the transmission on the stage but they had to work up a believeable power file with Sky. Mental. I’m not a power expert but having seen power profiles I struggle to believe that is an easy thing to do yet alone possible for a 6hr stage in the time they had. But I do like a good conspiracy theory and of course with his Salbutamol case hanging over him, the finger of suspicion whether he doped or not will always be pointing at him now, which is a shame.
To be honest I’m no expert but I read over and over the same uneducated crap that some people write and I just think if people actually took a closer look at what happened, they would realise half of what they say is basically stupid and dumb.
Only time will tell if Froomedog is the dog a lot of people think he is. At the moment, I don’t.
Thats my opinion anyway. What do you think?