A long dull stage that ended in a bunch sprint with Greipel taking his standard Giro stage win!
Ferrari of all people finished second, with Stuyven coming home third.
Annoyingly, Bennett fell ill last night and was struggling all day. A shame, but it’s one of those things about this sport that you never find out until you see them dangling off the back!
Oh well, moving on swiftly and onto tomorrow’s much shorter stage. Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders.
The last day on the island of Sardinia and the easiest stage so far with barely any altitude gain at all!
The profile makes it look the day look more rolling than it actually is, instead it is pretty much pan flat all day. At 148km long, it could be a short and explosive stage as the riders travel down the coast towards Cagliari.
Like today, the run in tomorrow is fairly simple with only a few roundabouts and turns to contend with.
There is a bit of pavé at the 350m to go mark all the way to the finish, but it really shouldn’t have an effect on the sprint at all.
Definitely a case of “paved stone” rather than cobbles!
The big talking point regarding tomorrow’s stage is the strong winds that are forecast. Travelling almost directly south for almost 100km, there is a chance that if we get a constant East or Westerly wind we may get, ahem, crosswinds…
The above image is the forecast for Tertenia which is near the start of the stage but as you can see, it looks windy! As I highlighted in the preview for stage 2 though, a lot of the island is covered with trees etc so the riders have been protected from the wind thus far. God damn Sardinia for its beautiful scenery!
Tomorrow though, there are some areas exposed areas at the start of the stage.
Will it be full gas from the start like we have seen in the past at the Vuelta? After the two very slow days I think it could be…
How will the stage pan out?
I think we will see some of the GC teams try and split the race in the crosswinds. After the relatively quiet opening stages they’ll have a lot left in the tank and with a rest day to follow, it could be manic.
There are still sheltered areas where things won’t be affected by the wind as much, and although the route is pan-flat some of the surrounding area is hilly which will surely have an impact on the prevailing conditions.
Nonetheless, I expect there to be some echelon action.
Most of the route southbound looks like the following…
They go closer to the hills at times but then skirt away from them again into more open areas like the one above.
Sky and Bahrain certainly look like the most eager GC teams to try something and I think that could be the case tomorrow. Although the British team have started to gain a reputation recently of being caught out on day’s like this. As I said above, with a rest day coming up I’m sure they’ll be more willing to try something riskier as they can recover the following day.
It’s a bit of a lottery trying to figure out who would be on the wrong side of a split GC-wise, because everyone will know that there is the potential for echelons so will be trying to position their overall candidates high up the bunch. This in itself could cause some issues and splits.
As for the stage, if it really does get manic then it will be a bit of a lottery, however, sprinters tend to go well in tough conditions so a good few of them should be there. Then again, some will probably miss out too just by being poorly positioned or through some bad luck (i.e. a badly timed mechanical).
We could end up seeing a similar top 10 to what we had on Stage 2 of the Tour in 2015 with a mix of GC riders and sprinters.
Although with all that said, there is a chance I’m just wishfully thinking after the relatively dull opening stages we’ve had and it may all end in a big bunch sprint.
It’s clear that Ewan and Greipel are the fastest riders here going off of the first two stages. Gaviria isn’t too far behind but he doesn’t seem to be 100% yet. Will having two days of racing in his legs change that?
The German is the best out of the sprinters in bad conditions so factoring that in, I think he wins tomorrow, doubling up after only three days!
As to how many guys end up there for the sprint, who knows, it all depends on how aggressively the GC teams ride due to the wind and more importantly, if the wind is strong enough to do some damage! Anyone know what teams are sharing hotels?! 😏
I think we could see a small group come to the line and in that case it might be hard to control, therefore look out for strong all-round GC guys who should be there no matter what. Someone along the lines of Thomas or Jungels who are both powerful enough to get close in a very, very reduced sprint or attack and solo to the line. The former has been really attentive so far this race and I think he might order his Sky team to try and instigate something, especially with a rest day coming up.
No value in Greipel as his price is too short with the unpredictability of tomorrow and it’s too early in the race for me to go gung-ho with him and place a sizeable bet of 5pts etc. The sensible decision would be a no bet. But I’m not sensible!
So instead, I’m going to throw (waste) some money on the two GC guys I’ve listed in the chance that we get a crazy day. I would normally go WIN only, but if we get a small group of guys like that 2015 Tour stage, I’ll be gutted if one of them podiums so EW it is.
0.25pt EW Thomas @ 250/1 with SkyBet
0.25pt EW Jungels @ 200/1 with various
Thanks as always for reading. Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will it be a Greipel, Thomas, Jungels podium?! Will we have a race that’s faster than a club run? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.