Tinkoff Saxo Pro Cycling Team

Here’s what happened on Stelvio

Giro d'Italia 2014

Chaos reigned on top of Stelvio, on the descent from the Cima Coppi and in the valley leading to the final climb. The 16th stage of Giro d’Italia was a beautiful and dramatic stage but turned controversial after the race jury announced that the descent would be neutralized. The vast majority of the teams heard it and followed the order from the race organizers but few teams including Movistar, Garmin and Europcar attacked on top of Passo dello Stelvio.

“We clearly heard over the race radio that the race jury asked us to transmit to our riders that the red flag would be raised for the riders on the descent. The red flag is indecisive and means that it’s not allowed to attack from the group, explains Sport Director Lars Michaelsen after the stage that saw the GC being turned upside down.

“We told our riders that they were asked by RCS to take it slow on the descent from Stelvio. So we stopped on the top to make sure that they had the proper clothing for a slow and cold descent. But Movistar and Quintana attacked and Hesjedal and Rolland followed. No doubt that they were very strong on the last climb, but it's a shame when a race organizer ends up creating unequal conditions for the riders”, continues Lars Michaelsen and emphasizes that the message about the neutralization went out to 22 teams and 44 sport directors.

Giro d'Italia 2014

Intentions were good but the execution was horrible

Lars admits that there is the possibility that Movistar didn’t get the radio announcement but with Garmin and Europcar following the attack the chances of nobody in the front group having received the message seems slim.

“I mean, if you suddenly have 2 minutes just after the descent, there is probably something that isn’t right. And I think that there are some teams that probably know that what they did on the stage was questionable, says the Directeur Sportif, who however believes that the race organizers has the overall responsibility.

“Today was unacceptable. I’ve always been a strong advocate for the fact that crashes, weather and punctures are a part of cycling. But when an organizer steps in to control the race as a final option they need to have the finesse and skills to do it properly. Their intentions were good but the execution was horrible. They sent an apology on their official media platform but won’t take the full responsibility either”.

Giro d'Italia 2014

Podium is still possible

The miscommunication resulted in Quintana, Hesjedal and Rolland having around two minutes at the foot of the final climb. Behind them the rest of the favorites used their teammates up in order to shave down the time gap and on the final part of the climb attacks were launched. Rafal Majka lost 4:08 minutes to Quintana, who won the stage, the pink jersey and the white jersey at the same time.

“Rafal did an excellent job today – the whole team did. Roche and Petrov fought their way back after Stelvio and immediately went to the front of the group to pull. Rogers was so strong and delivered Rafal in the best possible position. Rafa also launched a couple of attacks that split the group. But it’s difficult to sense how the legs are, when they’re cold after a confusing stage with many shifts in pace. Quintana was the big favorite for the stage win today, but he wouldn't have been in pink if it wasn't for what happened on Stelvio”, explains Lars Michaelsen.

The Tinkoff-Saxo captain is now 5th in the GC. But with 7 seconds to Cadel Evans the young Pole has a good chance of getting back on a podium spot again.

“Rafa is not at his best in cold conditions but he’s in a strong shape right now. He shows continuously that he has the will to attack and he’s still very close to the podium, which is his and our goal. Our team right now is indeed among the strongest. At the bottom of Stelvio 90 riders were dropped from the peloton – none of them were our riders. As a sport director, a team performance like that makes me proud”, concludes Lars Michaelsen.

18 Responses to Here’s what happened on Stelvio

  1. RafaG says:

    The organizers have distorted the outcome of the race. Pure and simple. From what could’ve been an epic stage, they’ve created a race that will always be known as the Neutralized Giro. Cretins.

  2. dzakutsaku says:

    what exactly were sport directors told? What did teams know, and when did they know it?
    Read more at http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/05/news/confusion-neutralization-throws-giro-chaos_329760#A2rvG1BBGHBD75wZ.99

  3. Ario Nasserian says:

    Quintana was going to win anyways, but not with this magin!

  4. Many Jopa says:

    Tinkov should fire Michaelsen and use his money to hire someone with brains and willing to accept responsibility. Rafa was great, he deceives better than a crybaby.

  5. Aiden Emir Juan says:

    its never nice to see jerseys changing hands because of officials making mistakes. still a time trial and couple stages left so best of luck to the team

  6. Doina says:

    If Quintana wins the Giro after this stage,,,everybody loses. His win will be for ever under a shadow and tainted. Quintana deserves better. Uran deserves better. Cycling deserves better! Shame on the Giro organization! Do something! “Sorry” does not cut it!

    • Signe Høyer Jørgensen says:

      Total agree with you. It is a disgrace for race like the Giro. In all the years I had seen cycling I never had seen something like that.

  7. Ed says:

    Sorry to be unpopular, but race radio only reinforced instructions regarding red flagging the race. No red flags = no neutralisation so the race is on. If DSs misinterpret this and riders listened to their DSs rather than used their heads then that is their fault.

    To be sure the giro organisers could have been clearer and the giro twitter feed making the same erroneous interpretation didn’t help. None of this changes the fact that the riders who didn’t chase down Quintana and their DSs are at fault.

  8. Tim says:

    If Quintana extends his lead in each mountain stage after today, everyone will forget today.
    As it is, there are too many unknowns about how big the gap was at the foot of the descent. As for the neutralization, let’s not forget pozzovivo, in the maglia rosa group, who said, “What neutralization? I went down as fast as I could.” -paraphrase. The end judgment is not as clear as anyone thinks, and may actually require no outright liars.

    • Kyle says:

      Thank you for bringing some level-headedness to this matter. Pozzovivo said exactly that.

    • Dennis says:

      Funny then, how Pozzovivo in an interview earlier today said that it was unfair of the riders to attack when the red falg was up…

  9. todd says:

    The only fair thing to do is to neutralize the entire Stage……that way everone starts out where they were in the classification from the day before…..#fairness

    • Signe Høyer Jørgensen says:

      Total agree with you.

    • Jelantik says:

      i think it won’t be as simple as that. It’s like a domino effect now. You have to realize that Quintana add his advantage during the last climb too. So to say that the entire stage being neutralized won’t be fair for him, Hesjedal and Rolland. To take out the minutes,.. where..how many and where the clock should start. The organizer should stop it, and their indecisive behavior cost a lot of confusion as the result. I don’t agree with Movistar, Garmin and Europcar, but I don’t agree with the rest of the team either. What I agree is the organizer managed this stage poorly and amateurish. And their indecisive decision has made the confusion among the peloton. They should have just stopped it and started it at the bottom of the climb. Sure it’s impossible, or whatever .. if i remember last year .. on the classic, the rider climbed to the bus to move to the next part of the race. Not ideal, but at least.. everyone is in the same page. period.

  10. VincentG says:

    Why can they not discount yesterday’s stage – call the whole stage neutralized? Strike it off.
    That’s the best thing to do. However, these incompetent people who are in charge, have too much pride to admit they have made this particular edition of the race a laughing stock. The result will forever (probably) be official, but never really mean anything or register in the eyes of the fans.

    Truly disappointing.

  11. Jelantik says:

    First and foremost, super riding by Mick Rogers after Quintana and Co sped shortly when they reach the bottom. I wish Majka won’t attack in the middle of the last climb, otherwise he could follow kelderman and distance Evans more. But of course it’s easier said than done since I didn’t ride the bike. Quintana is definitely stronger than everyone, but what happen during this stage shouldn’t be happening. He most likely to win, but it’s not just about that he’ll win, but the principal of what’s going on during the stage. Sure there might misinterpretation or whatever, but the point is.. in this caliber of stage racing, there’s shouldn’t be any confusion. If there’s any confusion, especially if only 3 teams that’s not on the same page of the rest, it means – no one is in the same page. It’s ashamed that this kind of caliber of stage racing are manage poorly and amateurish. Now it’s polemic. Movistar, Garmin and Europcar aren’t going to like if the result is neutralized. And the rest of the teams aren’t happy about the result. The lesson is, the organizer should be more directive and clear. Just said: stop racing or racing is on. That’s it. So there’s no gray area where too many interpretation is being made. I like Quintana, and sure he’ll probably win the giro or he might not, but the way this stage unfolding does leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. I don’t know what to make out of this event. I don’t like seeing 2 minutes by the bottom of the climb, and I was wondering what happen. How could you have 2 minutes when everyone was basically climbed up together before it unless someone was pushing the pace a harder on the descent?

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