This will be short and sweet as I need to get this done quickly so I can get ahead with my writing for tomorrow’s triple header of previews, so apologies!
Safe to say I got that one wrong! Bernal looked quite comfortable sitting second or third wheel until he went pop massively at roughly 1km to go. We were left with a reduced group of favourites sprinting to the line and it was wily old fox Scarponi who took the win, beating Thomas and Pinot, with a handful of other riders coming home on the same time.
A much needed win for Scarponi and Astana as it is their first win of the year!
Will they double up tomorrow? Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders.
An easier day out for the riders but we once again end with an uphill finish.
Like stage 1, tomorrow’s stage is about the closing 30kms or so. Averaging 8.4% for 4.5km, or 8.2% for 4.8km (depending on your source), the St Justina climb is tough either way! If a team wants to take up the pace here they could really do some damage to the peloton, and drastically reduced the numbers in the bunch before the final climb.
However, with the steepest ramps coming near the start, I can’t see that happening too drastically.
We then have a fast descent and travel through some valley roads before climbing to the finish line.
Again, gradients and lengths vary for the climb but it’s a long steady false flat drag, with a 5% ramp or so in the closing couple of hundred metres. Not an overly difficult end to the day!
It looks set to be another miserable day for the peloton…
With potential of it snowing at the end of the day, I wonder if we’ll see any route changes?!
Hopefully not and the rest of this preview will be wrote assuming that the route will stay the same.
How will the stage pan out?
Who will be contesting the finish all depends on how the peloton races the penultimate climb. Considering the rise to the finish line is relatively easy, there is no point in a team making a devastating pace to reduce the peloton because the GC favourites shouldn’t be distanced in the finale. Therefore, I think we could see a relatively large group, of maybe around 20 riders or so coming into the last few kilometres.
It’s then a question of late attack, or a sprint to the line?
There are several riders who lost a reasonable amount of time today so won’t be as heavily marked if they make a move, but with the easy gradients, a quickly organised chase should be able to bring them to heel. The key word there being organised! It’s a finely balanced stage and one that could go either way.
As I mentioned above, I’m short for time so this list won’t be exhaustive, that’s for sure! Instead, I’ll throw a few names into the hat.
The Italian was close to the head of the race today and managed to follow some of the attacks but just didn’t have enough juice in the tank and ultimately finished 17 seconds down. Tomorrow’s less steep finish should suit the relatively unknown Italian as he seems to have a great turn of pace. He should benefit from his anonymity!
The Cannondale rider showed some good legs in today’s stage, finishing inside the top 20 on a climb that didn’t really suit his characteristics. Tomorrow’s finale is better for him and he should be able to power over the easier gradients. I expect Cannondale to have numbers near the front which is always useful in a reduced group and packing a solid sprint, he certainly has a chance.
I harked on about him for today’s stage, but the closing climb was too tough. Like many others though, tomorrow’s false-flat style drag to the line should be more attractive to him. Another rider with a solid sprint, he has a good opportunity in that scenario, but having lost 42 seconds today, he also has enough breathing space to launch an attack.
Probably not the first rider to spring to mind, the American is another rider like Villella who should benefit from being the “lesser” threat compared to his team-mates. An attack or sprint from a reduced group, Bookwalter can do both and he he’s a dark horse for the stage if tactics play into his hands.
I was going to go for Busato and continue my season long fantasy bias, but I can’t ignore the shape Celano is in. He seems to be flying just now, his attack in Appennino the other week was unbelievable! I think he got a bit giddy today in terms of the illustrious company he was keeping but will have learnt from his mistakes and take advantage of his good form tomorrow by taking the biggest win of his career.
Tempted to cover the 4 names above, but I think that would be too far, so I’ll just stick with Celano instead;
0.75pt EW Celano @ 33/1 with Bet365 (would take 25/1 lowest)
Thanks as always for reading and apologies for how brief this was but I won’t have time tomorrow to write all three previews so need to get another finished this evening. Nonetheless, who do you think tomorrow? Will we see a shock victor like Celano, or will the more established names come to the fore? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.