Nailed on sprint they said?!
Roger Kluge had a different idea, escaping excellently within the final kilometre to steal the win from the sprinters. He followed after Pozzato attacked just before him. I have to say, the rider from Willier did a great job on the front once Pozzato attacked. He kind of veered across the road and blocked the sprint trains into the final corner. This disorganised them and Modolo and Nizzolo were left without any team-mates. Katusha attempted to bring it back but it was too late. Kluge had caught and dropped Pozzato. He even had enough time to free-wheel and celebrate at the end!
A day before leaving from Muggiò the two main Italian sprinters get mugged off. Not as poetic as The Snail winning a day after National Escargot Day but it will do!
I have to say, I was surprised at the size of the breakaway, I thought that it would have been larger. Was disappointed Lampre weren’t gutsy and tried to get someone in it, but from very early on it was clear that both they and Trek were happy to duke it out for the sprint/stage win.
Lampre leave the stage empty-handed in that sense, but also in the Maglia Rossa competition as Nizzolo won (behind the break) both the Int Sprints and then finished 2nd on the stage, increasing his points lead even more ahead of Ulissi. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nizzolo try to go in the break tomorrow to secure some more points.
The longest stage of the race in the final week of a Grand Tour, before the two tough mountain stages. The Giro organisers are cruel!
A very flat opening to the stage. This is one to tune into for the last 50km.
Although the fight to get in the break will be incredible and no doubt we’ll see a very fast opening to the race.
The race really kicks off with the climb up Pramartino (4.7km long, 10.6% average gradient, a crazy 17% max). This will decimate whoever is up front from the break away and I can imagine we’ll only see a group of 3 at most left cresting this climb together. Behind we could well possibly see some GC fireworks but with two big days ahead, and with Kruijswijk looking so strong, I don’t think so.
So after this it appears like a nice easy run in to the finish, or so I thought! The profile is once again deceptive (classically Italian) and in the final 3km there is a big old wall.
At 500m in length and averaging 13.2% in gradient, with a section topping out at 20%, this will decimate what’s left of the break. And it will be every man for themselves and only the strongest will crest it at the front. Once over, they’ll have a steep descent before a section of flat and the run in to the line.
Looks set to be another nice day out on the bike for the riders, with very little chance of rain.
How will the stage pan out?
If Valverde hadn’t won the stage the other day, then this possibly could have been held together for a GC battle royale, but they’ll instead keep their powder dry for Friday and Saturday.
As I said above, the fight to get in the break won’t be easy because a lot of the teams will want to be represented. Furthermore, we’ll inevitably see a good mix of riders make the break due to the terrain we start in. The strong rouleurs are more likely to make the break because of the flat start, in comparison to the punchier climbers who could actually win the stage.
Much like in earlier previews, look to those who are attacking and far down on GC. There are lots of them! Again, like other previews I’m just going to select a few riders who could give it a go and look at them in-depth. This time, I’m going to go for 4 riders!
First up is;
Michele Scarponi. In what is potentially his last season in the professional peloton (he’s out of contract at the end of the year), he might well be let off the reigns here. Arguably one of the riders of the race so far, he’s been incredibly strong in support of Nibali. However, his leader has faltered and Astana may look to the Italian veteran to get them something out of the race. He’s far enough down on GC and is definitely climbing well enough to get rid of his breakaway companions on the climbs. He’ll be a serious threat if he makes the break. If not him, Astana might turn to Kangert.
Francesco Bongiorno could be another breakaway contender. He finished 3rd on a stage at the Giro back in 2014, up the famous Monte Zoncalon (Stage 20). Last year he managed to finish 2nd on Stage 18, will he continue his progression this year and finish on the top step? He hasn’t really done anything of note this Giro, or season in fact. But he is always one who will give it a go on the tough climbs.
Alexander Foliforov. Already a stage winner here, the young and talented Russian promised that we’ll see more from him this race. Could tomorrow be that day? A stage like this very much resembles a cronoescalata, with only two short climbs to negotiate. It looks like an ideal stage for him to motor away on the steep ramps of the two climbs, just like he did in the time trial. If he has the same form as he did that day, no one will see him again until the finish line!
The final rider is another who’s also already won a stage this Giro: Giulio Ciccone. Another Bardiani rider, they’re sure to have numbers in the break. Ciccone as was proven on Stage 10 is an incredibly talented climber and not a bad descender. Two key attributes if you want to win this stage. If he’s recovering well from the build of fatigue, then he will be a real danger-man if he gets in the break.
All of these riders of course will require some luck to get into the break of the day, as per usual. It’ll be interesting to see the mix of riders we get up the road. I expect Ulissi probably to give it a go, as this stage looks very good for him and Nizzolo will try to follow him to take the sprint points at the TVs.
I’m sure we get a break win tomorrow, with Ulissi being the obvious candidate. However, as you may have gathered by now, I don’t like going for the clear favourite so instead I’m going to go with the old Italian veteran, Scarponi. I hope Astana (and the peloton) let him go up the road and with Frankie cheering him on from him, he’ll steal the win!
Maybe he’ll be nicknamed “Il pirata” afterwards, all he’ll need is an eyepatch!
Another day for smallish stakes. 0.25pt WIN on those I’ve mentioned.
*At the time of writing, only PaddyPower have prices up so the blog will be based off of them. Like usual, shop around later and you might get a better price!*
Hope you enjoyed this preview, hopefully one of the guys above makes it into the break. Otherwise, it will be a very dull stage. Make sure you tune in for those final 50km, they’re at least going to be exciting. Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth