Easy win for BMC in the end!
I did say Team Sky were my outsiders if something crazy happened, but I did not expect a wheel explosion! It was an awful TT for them, with Landa and Rosa also suffering punctures, resulting in them losing 1 minute 42 seconds on the day. They’ll have to have an attacking race to salvage something now.
Could tomorrow offer an opportunity? Let’s take a look.
A long, long day in the saddle for the riders at 228km. Good practice for Milan – San Remo I guess though?!
Nothing really happens in the first 120km of the stage but once they’re into the final 100km the road is up and down all day.
The longest climb of the day is up to Volterra.
9.85km in length, it averages 4.45% in gradient so not overly difficult. It will be interesting to see if any team comes to the front and increases the pace.
After that, we have a descent followed by some valley roads before we reach our penultimate climb of the day. There’s no official information in the road book about it, but I’ve managed to locate the Strava segment (I think!). View it here.
It’s 4.4km long, averaging 5.2% in gradient. However, as you can see, the climb itself is very irregular with some ramps above 15%. Cresting at just over 20km to go, will it be a launchpad for an attack?
Another fast descent follows as we head to our uphill finish in Pomarance.
A punchy finish is what I’d certainly call it; a few steep ramps separated by a lot of false flat. It’s the same finishing town that we had last year, with Stybar winning, but it’s a slightly different finale this time round.
How will the race pan out?
This stage in theory could suit a multitude of riders, with the likes of Sagan and EBH potentially fancying their chances at the line. However, I think after the events that we saw today, tomorrow will be a much more explosive and attacking day than initially thought.
Late attack? Reduced sprint? Group of 5 or so get away? They’re all possibilities!
Sky will be really bitter and embarrassed after today and with almost being out of the race already they will have to change their approach to a more aggressive one. Not something they’re used to! I reckon they’ll get Kiryienka to set a fairly tough pace on the penultimate two climbs to try and get rid of the fast finishers such as Sagan and co. Or at least some of their squad mates.
So in my scenario we might have a peloton of 75 riders or so approaching the run in to Pomarance and then we get some fireworks.
I’m going to do my usual in this situation where the stage outcome is tough to call and name a few riders and how they can win it…
The Italian has started the season very well with his new team, picking up the win in the final stage of La Provence. He was on the attack again in Industria mid-week, but could only manage 4th there. Nonetheless, he still seems to be on good shape! As part of the Androni squad, no doubt Giani Savio will be demanding that his riders are attacking throughout the stage. They’ll put someone in the break but save Cattaneo and Gavazzi for the end of the day. It would be bad for the peloton to underestimate him when he makes his move in the final 5km!
The rider who finished second on the stage Cattaneo won in La Provence, Dennis managed to hold on for the overall title. He seemed in scintillating form today in the TTT so he should manage this climb easily. Apparently he wants to be a legitimate second GC option here for them, so a win and some bonus seconds would help his cause! With his TT prowess, if he gets a 10 second gap then he will be tough to reel back in. Also, if the race is made too tough for GVA (will need to be ridiculously fast paced), then he will be the teams sprint option.
As I mentioned above, Sky will not be very happy after today and will want an immediate response. With 4 potential options on a stage like this, I imagine Rosa will actually be the one least marked. He is a brute of a rider and is capable of riding away from everyone behind on the tougher lower slopes of the climb. With a lack of co-ordination behind he could manage to hold on!
I’ll go for an outsider from a favourites team, Rohan Dennis to win!
After today’s big stakes, I don’t want to get overly involved in tomorrow’s stage. Swithered about going EW but have decided against it!
Dennis 0.6pt WIN @ 100/1 with Betfair/PP (Would take 80s)
Rosa 0.6pt WIN @ 50/1 with Bet365 (Would take 33s)
Cattaneo 0.3pt WIN @ 66/1 with Betfair/PP
Thanks for reading like always! How do you think tomorrow is going to play out? I’m hoping for an exciting last 100km. Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.