The first day of racing is upon as and a stage that should end in a sprint but could throw up a surprise or two! Who will get to wear the famous Maglia Rosa at the end of the day? Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders.
A long day to start of the Giro, the riders travel 206km from Alghero to Olbia along the Sardinian coast-line.
The route is fairly flat, by Giro standards at least, with a few rolling hills and some Cat-4 climbs so that the organisers can award the KOM jersey at the end of the stage.
The stage is all about the final 25km and the climb of San Pantaleo that crests with just under 21km to go.
At 3.2km long and averaging 5.6%, it is certainly tough enough to put some of the poor climbing sprinters in difficulty.
The gradients of the climb itself are fairly irregular and it does have a 500m metre section at 9.6%, with a maximum pitch of 12%.
It is a possible attack point for some of the bolder riders in the peloton but I don’t think they’ll get that far. Unless of course the chase is left solely to UAE (formerly Lampre), who couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery at times!
Nonetheless, I do think we’ll get a bunch sprint into Olbia with only maybe a couple of riders dropped (I’m looking at you Pelucchi).
The run in itself altimetry wise is easy after the climb but the actual route layout is a lot more difficult and technical.
With several sweeping bends and 90-degree turns in the final 4km the finish will certainly reward those with a strong lead-out but also those who are willing to take some risks.
On paper the final kilometre doesn’t look too bad, but the riders do have to traverse a roundabout. Thankfully they should be funnelled into the middle lane so there will be no last-minute choice as to how to take the roundabout which could cause some issues/crashes.
However, the road obviously does narrow quite drastically from the three-lane wide road to just the one which in itself may cause some problems. Positioning will be important!
The roundabout itself might cause some difficulties as again the approach road narrows even further.
Once they exit along the sea-front then there are roughly 400m left until the finish line.
It looks set to be a sunny and dry day out in the saddle for the riders, if not a bit overcast at times.
However, like a lot of the time it seems, it is the wind that I am more concerned with!
The above image is the forecast for near Isola Rossa which is roughly half-way into the stage.
It looks as if for the majority of the day as the cyclists head North-East, they will be riding into a block head-wind. However, the road does twist and turn a bit which could present the opportunity for echelons if they are in an exposed crosswind section for long enough.
When they turn at the head of the island and travel southwards, the wind on the East coast seems to come from an ever so slightly different direction.
The second image is from Palau (roughly 45km to go) and as you can see, it becomes more of a crosswind at that point.
I’m sure the riders will be thankful to know that most of the route is protected by trees that weaken and block the wind, while they’re a few hundred metres from the coast itself. However, there are some parts of the stage where they are right next to the coast line…
Will any team try to take advantage of these stretches and dare I say it, create…
I live in hope more than anything!
Analysing sprint trains isn’t my forte so I’ll try to keep this as concise and succinct as possible!
Gaviria – He should get over the climb at the end easily but he’s not completed a race since the end of March so it will be interesting to see where his form is. He has a solid lead-out train and in Richeze he has a great pilot fish. Those two seem to form a great pairing and they’ve proven in the past that they work well together. Gaviria probably starts as the justifiable favourite.
Greipel – A proven Giro stage winner, the Gorilla has taken a victory in every edition of the race he has competed at so far. Lotto Soudal have quite an inexperienced lead-out with them and it will be interesting to see how Hofland works as a last man. Nonetheless, Greipel is experienced enough to be able to surf wheels, although that isn’t exactly his strong point. He’ll need a bit of luck in that respect to win, but I certainly wouldn’t put it past him!
Ewan – The young Aussie was unfortunate not to take a stage win in Yorkshire last week after being boxed in on both occasions. He’s missing Kluge but in Mezgec he has an experienced replacement who should deliver him well, not to mention Edmondson who is flying just now and he will probably be third man. Orica are normally very good at timing their efforts on these technical finishes which will certainly give Ewan a great chance of winning.
Those three riders head the betting markets but there are another trio of riders waiting in the wings.
Bennett – As I think Pelucchi may get dropped, Bennett will be Bora’s man for stage 1. He’s not had an outstanding season, often finding himself working for Sagan or withdrawing from races. However, his win in Paris Nice was incredible and if he is 100% fit for this race then he will be confident of pulling off something similar.
Modolo – If you follow me on Twitter then you’ll know over the past few days I’ve been bombarding my timeline with various Modolo based punts. For what it’s worth, I think he wins the points classification this year as the three “big” sprinters will drop out. His win on the last stage in Croatia was amazing and I expect him to have carried on that form here. With the technical finish, he has a good chance of a podium spot tomorrow.
Nizzolo – Returning from an injury that plagued the start of his season, the Italian Champion arrives at the Giro lightly raced, having only taken part in Croatia. He might struggle with the pace on the opening few days but he is a rider that I rate highly so I’m not discounting him. Can he take that elusive Giro stage win tomorrow? Probably not.
Can anyone else contend?
Bauhaus, Sbaragli and Mareczko will all be fighting for the top 10 but it will take something special to go any better.
I’ll go for a rider who tore it up at the start of the season to do the same again tomorrow, Ewan wins!
I like the look of his lead-out, short but very explosive, just like the Aussie himself. He was solid in Yorkshire and compared to some of the other guys he has shown good recent form. The same can be said for Modolo who I think will be on the podium and run Ewan close!
I already have;
1pt EW Modolo @ 20/1 with PaddyPower that I tweeted out the other day. I would still take the 12/1 that is available as I think that’s still value.
I’m just deliberating whether to take Ewan for the stage, or in a slightly “safer” H2H against Greipel…Hmmm…
3pts Ewan to beat Greipel at 4/5 with WilliamHill (Would take 4/6).
Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will there be echelons? Will many sprinters if any, get dropped on the climb? I’m just hoping for an exciting opening stage. Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth!