Rest day recap
The wind was strong for the final stage in Israel but much to my disappoint, it was pretty much a tailwind for the majority of the way home. We did get a couple of splits on a short section but the bulk of the peloton arrived together. As predicted, it was rinse and repeat, with Viviani showing that he is the strongest sprinter here, coming round a swerving Bennett to take the win. The Irishman was beaten by Modolo for second place but he held on for third.
Let’s take a look at what is in store for the riders tomorrow on their return to Italy.
A leg sapping stage made worse by tough Sicilian roads.
This is just a typical day out at the Giro: 3000m+ of climbing but only two Cat-4 KOM ascents, classic. There is no real prolonged periods of flat land with the road constantly going up or down, especially in the final 2/3rds of the stage.
We could see some early attacks from stage hopefuls but they’re unlikely to stick, unless the morning break makes it all the way but with BMC wanting as much exposure as possible at the moment then it has less chance than normal.
The decisive part of the day is the final 16kms and what it holds for the riders.
Like always I’ve made profile that you can view here.
The final 16kms kicks off with the uncategorised climb of San Bartolomeo, which averages a fairly steady 3.7% gradient for almost 8kms.
It’s an interesting one as the gradient isn’t too severe but given the length of it, if a team decides to take up the pace and go full gas then we could see the peloton split. Bear in mind the amount of climbing they will have done before this point, but again, it all just depends on how fast and aggressively it is raced.
Once over the top they will have just over 7kms to go on rolling terrain which might present a chance for an opportunist to attack before the finale. The peloton will also have to contend with some narrow roads (like the following image), taken at roughly 3km to go.
I wonder if we’ll see a rider attack and their team try to block the road/chase? If we don’t get any action on the run-in then it will all come down to the final kick up to the line.
At an average of 8% for 900m it will entice both climbers and puncheurs, with lots of riders possibly fancying their chances at stage glory.
It must not be a popular Strava segment though as there only 77 people who’ve had an attempt at it, but interestingly, a few of them are here. Pinot, Preidler and Roy all “reccied” the stage on the 4th of April, just a couple of days after Geniez and Montaguti had a look at it. Pinot actually holds the KOM with a time of 2’40, whereas everyone else listed there took it a bit more leisurely. Will we see the Frenchman give it a go tomorrow?
Given the various different ways this stage could pan out then there are a whole host of riders who *might* have a chance but I’m not going to name 20+ people here, nobody’s got time for that! So instead, I’ll focus on just three guys who could go well.
I’ll give an honourable mention to #GoOnCalves first though who could conceivably take the leader’s jersey with a stage win and a gap to Dennis. Anyway,
I had to choose one of the guy’s who have had a look at the climb before and Geniez is the perfect mix of not being a real GC threat but is solid and strong enough to go well. Although I think his team-mate (Montaguti) might try an early attack. Geniez started the season in flying form winning the GP Marseillaise before taking the overall title in La Provence. Since then he has been a bit quiet results wise but his form has slowly been building in the Tour of the Alps. He surprised me, and a lot of other people, with his win in Tre Valli Varesine towards the backend of last year where he won a very reduced sprint against Pinot. That day Geniez sprung out of the chasing pack to bridge across to the two leaders (Pinot and Nibali) on the last ramps of the final climb. Combining that with his sprint win in Marseillaise but also his breakaway wins in the Vuelta and you get a well-rounded rider. I still think it will be hard for him to beat everyone if he arrives with the peloton at the foot of the climb so he might have to anticipate the action and attack beforehand, but you never know!
If you’ve read this blog over the past couple of years then you will know I’m a big fan of the Spaniard since his sprightly days at Caja Rural. His debut season at Astana last year didn’t get off to the best of starts but a 4th place on a breakaway stage at the Giro was a sign of things to come. In the Vuelta towards the end of the year he was phenomenal and instrumental in helping Lopez secure a couple of stage wins but also pacing Aru when he was in difficulty. This season we’ve seen a much more consistent rider who’s taken solid GC placings in Valenciana and Itzulia before he recently won the opening stage in the Alps. His opening TT here was a bit of a surprise but given the punchy route we had then maybe it wasn’t too much of a shock, it did indicate that he is in good form though. Tomorrow’s 1km finish looks great for him and with Astana no doubt having plenty of numbers in the front group on the run in, will we see them constantly attacking or trying to set it up for the sprint on the climb? Bilbao has a good shot either way and like Goncalves, he too has a chance of taking the leader’s jersey with a win and a gap to the others.
I haven’t seen the Colombian this motivated for a race in a while, he seems to have his head in the right place again. In 2017 he was domestique deluxe for Quintana at the Tour before being given the opportunity to chase stages in the Vuelta. That unfortunately didn’t go to plan as he crashed on the 7th stage while with the main group of favourites. He’s came back this season though and has had solid results in GP Indurain and Amorebieta but it was his opening prologue that really caught my eye. Like Bilbao he’s not exactly a great TT rider, in fact he’s a pretty terrible one, but his form must have been good on the punchy course to get himself round in 10th place. This type of finish we have tomorrow would be bread and butter for the Betancur that finished 5th on GC at this race back in 2013 or dominated Paris Nice in 2014. Is he at that level again? I’m not sure, but tomorrow will certainly be an acid test for him. I think I can speak for the majority of the cycling public in saying that we would all love to see Bananito back at his best!
I kind of spoiled this on my Twitter but yeah, Pello Bilbao to win the stage!
He looks in great form at the moment and with the Astana team as strong as they are they should be able to control proceedings in the finale. Just up to them whether Bilbao attacks early and they block the road on the narrow sections, or to keep it together and watch him fly up the final climb.
I did tweet out I was backing Bilbao when odds came out yesterday but the price has long since gone but I still would take him at what he is now.
1pt EW Bilbao @ 28/1 with Bet365 (would take 25/1 lowest)
1pt EW Betancur @ 40/1 with various bookmakers, Betfred are paying 4 places. (would take 33/1 lowest)
0.5pt EW Geniez @ 100/1 with Bet365 (Would take 80/1, maybe 66/1 at a push)
**Update – Added 1pt EW Goncalves @ 25/1.
Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow and how will the stage pan out? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.