A bit of a slow burner despite UAE’s best attempt at stirring some action with over 100km to go. However, things settled down and it was only on the uncategorised climb before the finish that things got spicy, with Conti quickly bridging to a Zardini attack and duly dropping the Wilier rider. He looked strong and for a little while as if he might have a chance of the win as the peloton looked at each other. Lotto FixAll took up the pace setting and were joined by Mitchelton, eventually catching Conti in the final 3km. On the downhill run to the kick up to the line the pace was incredibly high and there was a slight split in the peloton which saw a group of riders start the climb with a small gap.
Wellens powered home to take the win, with Woods following not far behind and Battaglin holding on for third from a charging Yates who was closing by the metre.
A poor day punting wise but all of the picks started too far back and couldn’t make any places up on the climb itself. With that said, Goncalves was unfortunate with mechanicals and I think Betancur was hindered by the pile-up. Certainly a day for the bookies though as they nailed the 1st, 2nd and 4th riders as their pre-stage favourites.
I was also slightly disappointed at the lack of attacks in the finale but hopefully we’ll see some action a bit further out than 10km from home tomorrow. Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders.
Another rolling day in Sicily but there is less vertical gain than today’s stage.
However, the majority of the climbing comes in the last 60kms, with there barely being any flat kilometres on the run-in so you could argue that it is harder. None of the three Cat-4 climbs are overly tough with the distances and average gradients being as follows; 2.5km at 4%, 8.5km at 3.8% and 5.5km at 4.6%.
After the last categorised climb the road continues to roll though with an unclassified lump of 4.5km at 3.5% before the riders head downhill and towards the finish.
Like normal, I’ve made a profile of the final 5km that you can view here.
The riders will turn off the main road, taking quite a sharp right-hand bend and instantly hit a climb.
The final 2km of the day averages 4.2% but the majority of the climbing comes in the first 1.4km of the run-in which is a steeper 6%. There is a short descent for a couple of hundred metres which heads into a very sharp corner.
Approaching from the road on the right the riders will swing around and complete a tight 180 before continuing on in the final 400m. Interestingly, the road rises all the way to the finish: the gradient isn’t too severe but the 3% average means you don’t want to open up a sprint early.
How will the stage pan out?
Pffft, we’re already at the stage of the race where we could feasibly see a breakaway make it to the line. There are plenty of riders, over 100, who are over 4 minutes down on Dennis already. If a group of 6 or so guys escapes in the morning that are all in that bottom 100 and no-one commits to a chase then we could see them stay away.
However, I think there will be enough guys who want to give tomorrow a go to chase behind. Therefore, I give the morning break a 20% chance of making it.
That then leaves a late-attack or a reduced sprint as the two possible options. Depending on the attitude of the peloton and who makes the attack, I would split the remaining 80%, 43:37 in favour of it being a reduced sprint. I think…
I’ve watched back the finale from today at least 5 times to try to ascertain who was gapped because of being held up by the fall on the run-in, or who finished further back just because the legs weren’t there. It’s not been easy but I have a couple of riders who seemed to finish strongly after being far back and a sign that they might go better tomorrow with some more luck.
As usual, on a stage like this I could name several riders who might have a chance in different situations but we all know how I roll by now so here’s my trio of riders to avoid.
The Terrible Trio
Although the Italian was born in Turin he was raised and lived in Sicily so he will want to put on a good show on what are some of his home roads. After not mentioning him for today’s stage I was hoping he would keep a low profile and go for it tomorrow. He’s even handily lost some time too over the previous days! The easier gradients on the climbs are well suited to the Bahrain rider and I think he should be given a free-role to chase some personal glory; the team did say that he would be allowed chances throughout the race and stage 5 is the last opportunity for Visconti to challenge on home roads. I’ll be intrigued to see how he plays it out; whether he goes in the morning break or waits for a late attack. His performances in the Autumn Italian one-day races were very good and if he is near that level again then he could be hard to beat from a small group.
I didn’t back him straight away yesterday but couldn’t resist and stuck some cash on him later on in the evening. Of course, the inevatble #HaugheyCurse followed and the Katusha rider suffered several mechanicals ranging from a puncture to loose handlebars. It meant he was constantly chasing on in the final 12kms but still managed to finish a respectable 39th, just behind the likes of Froome and Lopez. If we get a reduced bunch sprint of 30 riders or so then Goncalves should be one of the fastest, if not the fastest guy there. His form seems to be hot right now and a win is coming, it is just a matter of when?
The young German reminds me of better times a couple of months ago and his remarkable win in Catalunya that I somehow predicted. Although luck was definitely on my side that day after the change of course saw only a two-man break go but a strong tailwind on the run in helped them stay away. On today’s stage he was near the head of the group but crashed into some spectators around one of the tight corners on the descent. After managing to gather himself and his bike, he pushed on and finished in 21st place – a very good result all things considered. He certainly lost more in the crash than the 10 seconds he finished behind at the end. Strong and lively enough, I think we could see a late attack possibly stick from him tomorrow; he seems to be in great form at the moment.
We all know where this is going…
Come on Jose “#GoOnCalves” Goncalves!
1pt EW Goncalves @ 18/1
1pt WIN Schachmann @ 33/1
0.5pt WIN Visconti @ 33/1
All with Bet365.
Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think is going to win tomorro and how? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.