The early morning break eventually went but were never given too big an advantage and we ultimately saw them brought back before the only categorised climb of the day. Barbin sprung out of the peloton and was duly rewarded with the jersey on the podium at the end of the stage. More interestingly though, we saw Dennis and Campenaerts both attempt to go for the intermediate sprint point not long after, with the BMC man coming out on top and consequently moving into the GC lead.
Things then calmed down before an incredibly hectic and nervous finale on a tricky finish followed. It looked as if Bennett was in the perfect position but he was caught napping by Mareczko who launched early, hoping to take advantage of the slight tailwind finish. One rider who wasn’t napping though was Viviani and he instantly latched onto the Wilier rider’s wheel, before sling shotting around him with ease, taking the win comfortably in the end.
Rinse and repeat tomorrow? Let’s have a look at what is in store for them.
A more rolling day but still flat by Giro standards.
It is however the longest stage of the race and with the peloton travelling through the arid Negev desert, some riders might really struggle in the hot conditions. Interestingly enough, the intermediate sprints both come within the first 80kms of the day: I wonder if Campenaerts wants to try to go for the Maglia Rosa?
If you thought today’s finish was tricky, then tomorrow is ridiculous.
Plenty of roundabouts for the riders to deal with, including 6 from 6km to 2km out. Thankfully they continue straight forward through them all but it will keep things stretched. It is once we get inside 2km to go that things get really wild, in typical Giro fashion. The riders will be forced to slow right down as they complete a 180 around a roundabout on what looks like narrow roads.
I say looks like as the above image is the best we can get as the street view stops just before it. Rather annoying!
The road then bends round to the right just before 1km to go but this is coupled with the road narrowing down to just one lane.
A nasty unmarked (on the profile anyway) mini roundabout comes with 750m or so to go. Again they just go straight, but it looks quite tight and the riders can’t ride directly over it, meaning they will have to swerve around it. Once again, stringing things out even more.
The final turn then awaits with 300m to go.
Once again the road narrows down to one-lane but the corner doesn’t seem as tight as I thought it would be. Nonetheless, it isn’t exactly an easy finish!
Will it end in a sprint though?
That of course all depends on one thing: the wind.
The above is the forecast for Grofit which is roughly 50kms from home. As you can see, it is set to be a scorching afternoon but a very windy one too. A strong wind from the north (meaning mainly some sort of tailwind) throughout the day will see the peloton fly over the 229km.
As the road twists and turns through the desert some areas will be more crosswind but at the moment the majority of the day seems to be tailwind. However, the wind direction changed for today’s stage so the same could happen for tomorrow. I for one would like to see some crosswinds (shock) but there will be plenty of riders who won’t.
We’ll be in for some nervous racing throughout the day as all the GC contenders won’t be able to skip a beat in fear of getting shelled out the back.
Can anyone stop Viviani?
After what we saw today, it will be hard!
Even with him being terribly positioned at 700m to go, he still managed to find the right wheel and get back into the mix. He was then the most alert to latch onto Mareczko’s flyer and from there it was plain sailing. His kick was stronger than anyone else and he gained on everyone as they approached the line. This is a finish that should suit a team controlling it from 3kms out and QuickStep have a squad capable of doing just that.
Mareczko, Bennett and Bonfiazio were all lively but they’ll need to start their sprint ahead of Viviani as it will be hard to come round him. With that said, given the possible headwind finish, they might just have to do it that way!
With a tricky finish and a potentially depleted bunch, there is a chance we could see a late attack stick tomorrow. Pick a name out of the hat time but there are three I want to mention, and you’ll probably see them mentioned countless times over the next few weeks as well!
Everyone’s favourite top-tube descender, Mohoric loves to throw the spanner into the works, always trying an audacious move. We saw in Croatia that on Stage 2 he attacked in the last lap on a tricky circuit but was caught at the flamme rouge. If we get a hectic stage tomorrow and Bonifazio isn’t present in the lead group but Pozzovivo is safe, Mohoric might be given the chance to go for his own result. One of the best bike handlers in the peloton, he’ll take those tricky roundabouts with ease!
Mr #GoOnCalves is a rider I have fond memories of backing a lot at the Vuelta when he burst onto the scene back in 2015. I’m getting the same vibe from him just now, with the Portugese rider seemingly in tip-top form. He made a half-hearted dig today, Katusha actually looked pretty lively, and I think we might see something similar tomorrow. A very punchy rider, if he can time his attack perfectly in the closing kilometres it will be tough for a small group to bring him back.
Is he going for GC, is he not, who knows? Lotto Fixall normally ride very strongly in the wind and with a very experienced team I would be surprised not to see the majority of their squad make any split. We’ve seen in the past how attacking a rider Wellens is and in the finale he has the abilities to do something similar to what Tony Martin hs done in the past. He’s had his best season to date so far and a stage win in a Grand Tour would help top it off. The one concern with him is the heat as he sometimes struggles in hot conditions.
I’m hoping the wind plays ball and we get a drama filled, echelon-fuelled day. However, I still think we will probably see the same rider raise his arms aloft at the end of the stage. QuickStep are the masters in windy conditions and they should be able to protect Viviani well enough.
No way am I backing a sprinter so small stakes on the three opportunists listed above for patter.
0.125pt WIN on them all.
Mohoric @ 300/1
Goncalves @ 400/1
Wellens @ 400/1
(All with Bet365)
You probably will get better prices on the Exchanges later/tomorrow morning!
Thanks as always for reading. Who do you think will win? Will the weather play a big part in the day? Or will everything stay together for a sprint? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.