Giro d’Italia 2018 Stage 10 Preview: Penne -> Gualdo Tadino

Rest Day Recap

On stage 9 we once again so the break caught close to the finish, although this time it was at 3km to go for Masnada who saw his hopes of a dream stage win dashed. It’s a shame as he was certainly the strongest in the move, he’ll get some more chances throughout this race though…

The GC battle therefore turned into a fight for the stage too. We saw a few digs from the riders, namely Ciccone who found himself off the front on two occasions after he decided to chill in the peloton with the big guys all day. Froome was dropped and sensing blood Pozzovivo lit it up at the front of the group, almost sprinting the final 500m. He distanced everyone aside from Yates, Pinot and Chaves who came round him, finishing in that order.


The result means that the Mitchelton rider strengthens his GC lead: he’s currently 32 seconds ahead of team-mate Chaves, with Dumoulin a further 6 seconds behind in third. With plenty of racing still to go, it will be interesting to see how long he can hold the Maglia Rosa and what approach Mitchelton take.

Tomorrow’s stage should be a quiet one for them, but you never know who is going to go well after a rest day or not. Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders.

The Route

A tough day out in the saddle with roughly 4000m of climbing which also happens to be this year’s longest stage at 239km.


No doubt we’ll see plenty of pictures circulating around Twitter in the morning of guys warming up on the rollers beforehand as the toughest test of the day comes from the gun. There is a little climb followed by a quick drop down before the Cat-2 climb of Fonte della Creta begins at just 5.6km into the day.


The climb averages just under 6% for 15.7km and will certainly be a rude awakening for some. Expect a fierce pace as a strong group tries to form the break of the day.

Once over the top though, that is the only major climb out-of-the-way for the stage. However, the climbing doesn’t stop and we have a parcours that is very similar to stage 4 where the road is just up or down. The Cat-4 climb of Annifo crests with 30kms still remaining but I’m not sure the 1km at 7% will scare anyone. It could be a nice place to launch an attack though.

The final 18km could see a very tactical battle as riders try to escape while others will want to hold it together.


It looks flat on the official profile and while there may not be many hills to speak of, the short kickers will thin the bunch out if the pace is high.


Considering the pretty technical final 1.5km, it appears the organisers do not think this will be a sprint finish. Speaking of which…

How will the stage pan out?

A battle between the break and the sprinters teams.

Given the tough climb at the start of the day we should see a group of strong guys make up the escape but with it being the aforementioned climb that a break most likely forms on, they aren’t exactly going to be the best baroudeurs for the remaining 200km. Luckily for them, there are plenty of small rises throughout the day where they can continue to put the hurt on.

Will we see the sprint squads want to set tempo all afternoon to try to bring it back?

No, is the simple answer!

I am ready and prepared to eat my hat but tomorrow is 100% a breakaway day. I’m intrigued to see how things play out in the final 30km with the “flatter” terrain. It will certainly help if your team has a couple of riders in the move and consequently I think we could see a group of 22 or something similar escape in the end.

Time to play everyone’s favourite game again, although if you follow me on Twitter, the next bit has already been spoiled for you!


David De La Cruz.

Sky have been abysmal this race so far and with Froome very much sub-par at the moment I think they might try their hand at going for stages. The only issue with this idea is that they’ve only ever took this approach at the Giro once their leader has left the race, so with Froome still here, will they stubbornly stick to Plan A? Tomorrow is the acid test and I think De La Cruz offers them a good stage hunting option. He’s strong enough to make the break on the climb but he’s also fairly handy on the flat too. We’ve seen in Paris Nice that he has a good kick on him against climbers so he might not mind bringing it down to a very reduced sprint.

Fausto Masnada.


A performance on stage 9 that won many hearts, Masnada is the gutsy type of rider who will go for it again at some point. We saw how strong he was the other day, dropping a lot of good break companions who had no match for his stinging acceleration and hard pace. I’m pretty sure Androni have made the break every day so far and I will be incredibly surprised not to see them in the move again tomorrow, in fact, we’ll probably see a couple of them there. If Masnada replicates the same performance then he will be a tough character to beat if he times his attack correctly!

Tanel Kangert.

Astana went all in on stage 9 for a Lopez victory but he fell short in the end. With that, I think we’ll see a few of their strong domestiques let of the leash tomorrow and the stage looks perfect for the likes of Sanchez and Kangert. Both are more than competent on the climbs and they can hold their own in the closing 30kms. Having the two of those guys there will make the rest of the break easy as they can launch vicious 1-2s until the move sticks. Kangert is slowly finding his form again after 2017 was ruled out due to injury. Can he rekindle that spark he had in 2016?

Krists Neilands.


The rider who sparked Nibali’s Milano Sanremo raid, Neilands is a talented Latvian climber, come one-day rider. His 2018 has been a bit disappointing so far with a 7th place at GP Industria the only result to shout home about. However, he showed a lot of class last year to finish 10th on GC at the Volta a Portgual which is notoriously one of the toughest races of the year outside the Grand Tours. He’s obviously a talented guy! Israel Cycling Academy have been a bit disappointing so far and nowhere near as attacking as I thought they would be. That needs to change, otherwise their wildcard was a waste of time (and Israel’s money). Maybe Neilands has been saving it all for tomorrow?


None of them will win though, instead we’ll see a flying Giulio Ciccone take the day.


He nearly caused a bit of a shock on the last day of racing when he attacked out the GC group and got a bit of a gap. It was an impressive display of power as he went forward, Froome went back. That will certainly give the Bardiani man confidence! The stage departs from Penne tomorrow which is not too far away from Ciccone’s home town and we’ve seen in the past what that can do for motivation – take Visconti’s second place on stage 5 for example. He won Appennino from a three-up sprint, can he repeat the feat tomorrow? Looking back at the results from after the first rest day last year it was a time trial so there is not much to take from it, but guess who won in 2016 after the rest day? Yep, Ciccone!


Already tweeted out my selections the other day.

Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 18.50.33

Odds have shortened on them all, but most are backable at their current prices.

Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.



Giro d’Italia 2018 Stage 9 Preview; Pesco Sannita -> Gran Sasso d’Italia

Today’s Recap


For a while it looked as if it was guaranteed the break was going to make it, then with the weather turning sour and Katusha coming to the front things were quickly closed down to under 2 minutes before the start of the climb. The gap was cut again when Groupama got a bit frisky, making it only 1 minute with roughly 8kms left. However, things slowed a bit and the gap was just whittled down ever so slightly over the next little while. With 3kms to go and 25 seconds advantage, blog pick Bouwman made a move and immediately dropped everyone else from the break. Montaguti tried to bridge but couldn’t, meanwhile in the peloton Froome crashed going uphill for a bit of unusual comic relief for the day.

A couple of attacks were launched from the peloton with Richard Carapaz flying out the front of the bunch and no-one wanted to, or could follow. He quickly caught up and passed Bouwman at roughly 1km to go, continuing his charge to take his first Grand Tour stage win.



Behind Formolo finished second, showing that he still has good legs despite his blow up on Etna, with Pinot coming home in third to take a few bonus seconds.

The GC stays pretty much the same aside from a few movers, with Yates leading heading into the last stage before the second rest day. Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders.

The Route

After a pretty tiring stage today, I’m sure the riders will be less than pleased to see that they’ll be doing 225km tomorrow.


4000m of climbing and a finish at altitude, it could be a very good watch!

The day starts off with some rolling terrain but there is nothing too tough for the riders to worry about in the opening 80km. They’ll face an unclassified climb then which averages 4.7% for 8.5km – a nice little warm-up for what is to come. The Cat-2 Roccaraso follows. Again, it is not crazily difficult but it does have several kilometres at over 7%. It is too far out for any action.

It is once the riders get into the final 45km that things will get really tough: they pretty much spend it going uphill! In fact, once the riders pass the “178.2km” part on the profile above the final 46.8km average 3.7%, ouch.


The climb of Calascio is steady, averaging a solid 6% for 13kms. The riders well then face a long period of “easy” climbing, with the gradients averaging well under 4% for the following 30km. But with the road almost always rising, it will start to build up the lactate in their legs for what could be a punishing finale.


The final 7.5km average 6.5% and taken alone that would be a pretty interesting finish to the day. However, when you consider that it takes place north of 200km in the legs, then it should make things exciting. The last 4km averages roughly 8% and we could see some fairly big GC gap here if there are some tired legs in the bunch and things get wild.

Break or no break?

Hmmm, much like today it could really go either way.

It is a long day out in the saddle and it will be hard for one team to control everything in the peloton, so it will need a considered effort from a few teams to keep things within touching distance. If someone sneaks into the break that could be a danger on GC then it could spell the end for the break before it has begun. I think we’ll see a big fight to get into the morning move and the majority of teams will want to have at least one, if not two guys up the road for later in the day. Will there be enough co-operation ahead for them to stay away?

There are a couple of teams who were fairly quiet today, namely Astana, although they did have Villella in the break, who I imagine will try to throw a few cats among the pigeons tomorrow. Will they go for the stage win from the break or try to control things to set up Lopez? The Colombian does have previous on summit finishes at altitude – he taking a spectacular win to Sierra Nevada at the Vuelta last year.

Interestingly, after today’s stage Chaves said in an interview that he thinks the break will make it all the way.

I really can’t make up my mind, I’m well and truly on the fence! There are valid points to both arguments, I’m struggling to fully commit to one side. So I thought I’d have a look at stages before a rest day in previous Grand Tours (the past three years) to see if there was any pattern.

Giro – 2015 (Break), 2016 (N/A – TT day), 2017 (GC)

Tour – 2015 (N/A – TTT day), 2016 (Break), 2017 (GC)

Vuelta – 2015 (N/A – Sprint), 2016 (GC), 2017 (GC).

Not really as conclusive as I would have hoped for but the GC days edge it 4 to 2.

The issue that I keep coming back to though is the length of the stage tomorrow. At 225km, it really is tough for the GC teams to keep everything within touching distance if a strong group goes away, especially on the rolling terrain the riders will face. Then again, you could argue a motivated chase behind will eat into a tired break on the closing 45km climb…

As I hope we see two races in one tomorrow, I’ll break tradition and say that the break actually makes it.


Jan Hirt.


*See yesterday’s preview*

Joking aside, Hirt is strong enough to win a stage like this. He’s the perfect Astana rider to get in the break as he is a very competent climber but is far enough down on GC not to see any chase from Mitchelton. Sanchez is another option for them but he could compromise the move given he is less than 5 minutes from Yates.

Giulio Ciccone.


Given that tomorrow’s finish is a tribute to Marco Pantani, I have to include the Bardiani rider who climbed Mt Etna in the drops. He was unlucky on that day as he definitely seemed the strongest from the breakaway, just a shame for him that the GC guys came out to play. Since then on the past few stages he has rolled home saving plenty of energy. Enough for a dig tomorrow?


Neither of them will win though and instead we’ll see someone double up at this race…


Wellens has lost time on a few stages so that he can continue to chase more wins rather than go for an ok GC position. He was involved in a tangle today but seems to have come through unscathed, instead rolling home pretty far down the order. Active early on this afternoon, he didn’t make the break but he is certainly lively enough to try again tomorrow. This year he has really taken a level up and I think he can cope with the final climb. Interestingly, his maiden Grand Tour win was at the Giro in 2016 on Stage 6 where they happened to finish on Roccaraso (although it was a different approach) which is the opening categorised climb tomorrow. More of the same? I hope so!


A classic day of backing some break riders then turn to GC riders if it looks as if it is going to be for them.

1.5pt WIN Wellens @ 25/1

1pt WIN Ciccone @ 18/1

0.5pt WIN Hirt @ 66/1

Buy Me A Beer (Coffee)

I’ve been slacking with my shameless self promotion recently, mainly because I am quite ashamed but if you’ve enjoyed the previews so far then you can “Buy me a beer” via this link and thank me for losing you some money!

Thanks as always for reading. Who do you think will win tomorrow and how? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.


Giro d’Italia 2018 Stage 8 Preview: Praia a Mare -> Montevergine di Mercogliano

Today’s Recap

Simple break went after Tony Martin’s cheeky move was brought to heel. Consequently it was a pretty easy day for the majority of the peloton. There were a couple of attacks on the run in but the sprinter’s teams had it under control. It was quite a scrappy sprint but in the end it was Sam Bennett who got the timing nailed on today, after going too early on Stage 2 and too late on Stage 3.


The Bora rider followed Viviani’s wheel excellently in the closing kilometres, eventually coming round the Italian within the closing 25m as the Quick Step rider faded to second. An all-over-the-road Bonifazio managed to get up for third which was a good result considering he had to swap a wheel with 17km left. Was a bit of a dodgy sprint from him mind!

With the GC staying the same, Yates still leads into tomorrow’s summit finish. Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders.

The Route

A rolling day with a lot of uncategorised climbing in the opening part of the stage which should see a strong break form.


At 209km it is a long day for the riders too and the 3000m+ of elevation gain will be a tester on the legs. Thankfully for them, they have a large section of flat to have a rest on before the final climb of the day.

There is an uncategorised drag to the town of Celzi which averages 5.8% for 3.5km but given that it is still 30km to the finish it is unlikely to be the scene of action. With that said, given the strong chance that tomorrow is a day for the break, then we could see a thinning down of the move here.


The climb of Montevergine di Mercogliano is an easy one by Giro standards, averaging pretty much bang on 5% for 17.1kms. It’s too straight forward for any GC gaps unless someone is on a really bad day. Last time we were here in 2011 when Bart De Clerq just held off from the morning break, nearly being pipped on the line by a large group of GC riders and some.

How will the stage pan out?

Given the relatively easy finish for the GC guys and with a much harder stage to look forward to on Sunday, I think we’ll see the breakaway stay away tomorrow. Unless of course some sneaky character infiltrates the attack. Even then, if they aren’t too much of a threat overall then the move should still stick.

So it looks as if it is time to play everyone’s favourite game!


Here we go…

Fausto Masnada.

I don’t think Androni have missed a break this Giro so it would be silly not to include one of their riders here! Masnada is not a household name and he is certainly a rider only “hardcore” cycling fans will have heard of but the young Italian is fairly talented. 2017 was his first year in the peloton after being with Lampre as a stagiare for the final few races of 2016. He produced some ok results throughout the year but by far his stand-out performance was a 4th place in the Queen stage at the Tour of Turkey, which cemented a 3rd place overall. Not bad for a first year pro! This year has seen him deliver consistent results with a 3rd at the recent Giro dell’Appennino his best to date. The “easy” gradients of the final climb should suit him. He won’t be hard to spot, he’ll be the guy with the white glasses, rocking and rolling all over his bike!

Jan Hirt.

Astana have stated that they’ll try for stage wins throughout the Giro and they have a few good cards to play for tomorrow with either Hirt or Lutsenko. The former was a revelation at this race last year, finishing a lofty 12th place on GC at the end of the three weeks. On the Etna stage he did a lot of the pulling on the early slopes of the climb, shelling out riders out the back of the peloton. After pulling the plug he cruised home 16 minutes down. His 10th place on GC in the recent Tour of the Alps highlights that he does have some good form at the moment and he would be a big danger in the right move. With the way Astana have performed this season, you wouldn’t rule him out just riding away from everyone.

Koen Bouwman.

Tour of the Alps 2018 - stage 4

Although Lotto Jumbo have Bennett high on GC, they also have a few climbers who they will hope can chase stage wins from breaks this race: Bouwmann is one of them. The slight Dutch rider is into his third year at WT level and he’s enjoyed some success this year with a 5th place on GC at the Coppi e Bartali. That result could have been so much better though if he had not crashed on the descent while away solo on the Queen stage. He’s not the best climber from a GC group but from a breakaway he certainly will have a chance. Packing a bit of a kick, if it comes down to a small sprint then he will back himself.

Giovanni Visconti.

Giro d'Italia 2017

So close on stage 5, it is a case of “what might have been?” for the Bahrain rider after he expended some crucial energy to bring back his team leader. On a proper mountain top finish with an average of 7% then Visconti would struggle but with the 5% on offer tomorrow it brings him into contention. He’s obviously in good shape just now but it will be interesting to see how recovers after a tumble the other day. If he’s back to 100% then I would be surprised if we don’t see him in the break!

The Wongshot Returns

For those of you have only followed the blog recently then let me do some explaining. Last year I had a terrible Giro prediction wise and I received some wonderful feedback from a “Mr Wong” who said that you would have a better chance of choosing a rider to go well by pinning all the names on a board and throwing a dart at them. So in good spirit, the Wongshot section was made, where I put the startlist into and see who comes up. Funnily enough, I did a very similar RandomRider section the previous year at the Giro but that just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

It’s a good bit of fun for a day like tomorrow, so here goes…

Mattia Cattaneo.


Not actually the worst rider ever to make an argument for, he was my second choice Androni rider but I love Fausto so yeah. Cattaneo is a former winner of the Baby Giro back in 2011 when he beat the likes of Anacona and Aru. While at WT level he never really fulfilled his potential but a step down to Pro-Conti level last year saw his results improve and a renewed faith in his own ability. He had a great year scoring plenty of top 10s in .1 and .HC races, including his first pro win in La Provence. The finish climb tomorrow might be a bit on the long side for him but given his undoubted talent you never know!


The break to stay away and Astana to get the stage win they’ve been longing after with Jan Hirt.


He’ll put everyone into the, ahem, Hirt Locker…


1pt WIN Visconti @ 25/1 with Bet365

0.5pt WIN on everyone else (including the Wongshot);

Hirt @ 125/1

Cattaneo @ 80/1

Masnada @ 100/1

Bouwman @ 150/1

You might get better prices elsewhere later on but I’m busy this evening so just want to get this published now!

Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow and how? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.


Giro d’Italia 2018 Stage 7 Preview: Pizzo -> Praia a Mare

Today’s Recap

Well that was a great stage!

Attacks kept flying from the gun and it took over an hour for the break to eventually form, which saw a 25+ rider group get up the road. Chaves and Henao, along with a few others close on GC snuck their way into the move which made for a very interesting afternoon. As a result the move was never given too much leeway but they started the climb with over a minute on the peloton. The gap varied on the first 10km of the climb before we saw Chaves explode out of the already reduced break. He quickly built up a lead over the rest of the group who were soon swallowed up by the GC contenders. Probing attacks were made and a group including Pozzovivo, Pinot, Yates and Bennett managed to get a gap on the rest of the field. However, their unwillingness to properly work together saw things regroup. Meanwhile Chaves soldiered on ahead, maintaining a 25 second advantage going into the final 2kms. Yates then took advantage of being on the other side from the road of everyone else and as they all were looking at each other, he took off in pursuit of his team-mate. He closed the gap to Chaves remarkably quick and the two of them completed the final few hundred metres together, with the Brit allowing his Colombian team-mate to take the stage win.


Pinot won the sprint for third from the remainder of the GC group with none of the big GC favourites losing any more time than the 26 seconds they ceded to Yates and Chaves.

The result leaves Yates in the Maglia Rosa and looking at the Mitchelton squad, they certainly have a strong and well-rounded line-up to defend it for a while. Thankfully for them they should have a fairly easy day tomorrow as the sprinters most likely get their chance into Praia a Mare.

Let’s have a look at exactly what is in store for the riders.

The Route

An almost pan-flat day but with an interesting little kicker near the finish to entice some attacks.


Not much really here to talk about until we get to the 140km mark and even then, it is nothing too remarkable.


The terrain rolls for over 12km with the major focal point being the 4km climb at 3.6%. It shouldn’t be too tough for the sprinters but it will certainly offer up a chance for some to make a bold attack. The continual up and down until the final 4km gives them an opportunity to make it stick, but given the wide open road then it will be tough for them to get away fully.


The riders will descend through a tunnel which could be a bit sketchy and we do have an elongated chicane at around the 2km to go mark. However, aside from that the finish is simple and it will be a drag race between lead-out trains.

Nailed on sprint?

Most likely yeah, but given we’re almost into the second week of the race tiredness will start to kick in for some riders and they might not be as keen to chase all day for a sprint. Today’s stage was fast right from the gun and that will certainly have taken a lot out of the sprinters so I would say the break has more of a chance than normal on a stage like this but even then it is still unlikely.

One thing that might favour the break is that the rest of the sprint teams need to try something to get an advantage over Quick Step. Not contributing to the chase would be a good start and they could send a man up the road as the perfect excuse.

If we see maybe 3 of the sprinters team send a guy in the break it could work. No doubt though we’ll see a group of 4 squirrel off and it will be controlled nicely all day.

Can anyone beat Viviani then?

Yeah, but they will need a combination of luck and great legs. They’ll be hoping the Quick Step rider struggled a bit today.

However, it will be very tough and I can’t really see it happening but you never know.

Modolo – Closest to Viviani on Stage 3 the EF rider has quite a good lead-out that can get close to Quick Step. He was with the peloton on Stage 5 before completely blowing up on the final climb but his legs must be good to get there.

Bennett – Hesitated on stage 2 and then went early on stage 3 and faded, probably as he cycled a few more metres than anyone else. Selig withdrew the other day and that will be a big loss for him. Bennett has beaten Viviani before this year, he just needs to remain confident.

Mareczko – Wilier have a lot of faith in the young sprinter as they’ve had almost all of their squad back helping him get through the past few stages. Will they have taken too much out of him?

Bonifazio – 4th in the opening sprint but was caught out by the winds on stage 3. He was good in helping bring Pozzovivo back to the front in stage 5 so I think he has fairly good legs. Sometimes he has good days but often blows cold.

Van Poppel – Jumbo’s short lead out hasn’t worked so far but on a simpler finish like this is should help them. For raw power I think DVP can get close to Viviani, he just needs everything to click.


I’d like to see a break stay away to spoil the party but I just can’t see it happening. Viviani to take yet another stage win.


I do think Van Poppel can get onto the podium tomorrow though.


Hmmm, could be a no bet day but I’ll go with:

1pt EW on DVP at 14/1

I might have a dabble on some potential break riders on the exchange but nothing stands out for me atm.

I do also fancy a H2H;

Venturini to beat Debuscherre at 6/5. (5pts on)

Debuscherre seems to have lost his sprinting legs quite a while ago and I think the AG2R rider is faster than him. On a finish that should be about pure speed and power, I favour the Frenchman.

Thanks as always for reading, who do you think will win tomorrow? Can anyone stop Viviani? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.



Giro d’Italia 2018 Stage 6 Preview; Caltanissetta -> Etna

Today’s Recap

Well that was annoying!

After naming three riders in yesterday’s preview they all came home in the top 4 today, but none of them finished on the top step.

It was quite a dull stage until we got into the final 20km when the pace started to ramp up and a crash in the peloton caused a few splits. A couple of GC guys were held up but most made it back into the fold, aside from Lopez who lost 40 seconds come the end of the day, but that was due to his own crash. On the final climb of the day Pozzovivo set a relentless pace at the bottom that shelled some riders and the Bahrain rider was quick to latch onto an attack by Ulissi. 

That set things up for Visconti to catch everyone, aside from today’s eventual winner Battaglin, by opening up his sprint early. It was a head to head drag race between the two on the final straight but the Lotto Jumbo had the strength to hold on in the end. Interestingly, the effort Visconti put in to bring back Pozzovivo before might have cost him the stage. Behind those two we saw a massive charge from both Schachmann and Goncalves who were both poorly positioned around the penultimate turn, leaving them 9 or 10 bike-lengths behind Visconti when he opened up the sprint. The Katusha rider just pipped the current Young Jersey holder on the line to complete the podium.


Definitely a day of “what ifs?” punting wise. What if Visconti didn’t have to expend energy bringing Pozzovivo back? What if Schachmann didn’t expend energy coming back himself or starting the sprint too far back? What if Goncalves didn’t run a bit wide in the penultimate turn and cost himself a few positions? Alas, this is cycling though and none of that can be changed, and I’m sure I could ask myself various questions after every stage! Kicking myself a bit for not backing them all EW but oh well, I’ll stand by my reasoning for that.

However, it is good to know that my radar is still working pretty well. Bring on tomorrow!

The Route

We’re onto stage 6 and the riders are greeted with the first mountain top finish of the race, on Mt Etna. Cue the numerous puns I can make about volcanoes throughout the rest of this preview, would you lava to hear them? Moving on…


A fairly short day in the saddle at only 164km but the riders will face over 3000m of elevation gain throughout the day. The opening half of the stage is very rolling, much like what we have had over the past couple of stages. It will be used for either the breakaway to gain time or if a lot of the GC teams are interested in the stage, they can keep the move on a tight leash and use the rolling terrain to wear down their opponents.

The peloton climbed Mount Etna last year, only the 4th time in Giro history, so it is a surprise to see them back so soon. In 2017 the stage was made a bit too dormant due to a strong head wind that saw the GC favourites mark each other out (aside from Zakarin who launched an attack a couple of kilometres from the top), and consequently the early breakaway rider Polanc held on for a very strong stage win.

Interestingly, the race will tackle Etna from a different side for the first time. Will this see some more explosive racing? Before they start the climb proper though, the peloton will be heading upwards for a while.


The unclassified climb of Belpasso isn’t tough, only averages 3.2% for 14.4km, but it will act as a warm-up/leg-sapper for what is to come. A short descent follows before the climb of Etna begins.


Averaging 6.5% for 15kms, this approach of Etna is easier than last year (18km at 6.6%). It is quite an irregular climb though which might see some riders find it hard to get into a rhythm. The toughest 4kms of the ascent come near the top, as they average 8%. This is where someone hoping to make up any GC time will need to attack to put others into difficulty as the closing kilometre eases off.

Looking at the wind conditions there seems to be a light breeze of 5 or 6 km/h coming from the East on the climb which should mean it is a crosswind for the majority of it, but with a headwind in the closing few kilometres. However, with the wind being light I don’t think it will have anywhere near as bag an impact as we saw last year so hopefully we should still be in for some attacking racing.

How will the stage pan out?

We saw a rather surprise breakaway win here last year so can Polanc repeat the feat this time around?

It all depends on the attitude of the GC teams. I think BMCs best way to defend the jersey is to let the break take the stage and with it the bonus seconds, meaning Dennis only has to follow the other contenders to hold onto Pink. That is no easy task though!

Normally on a day like this we would see Sky come to control the peloton with but them and Froome being a bit shaky at the moment with their performances, will they do that? Astana could really do with a good result after Lopez’s crash today but his form is a question mark, especially when you consider his pre TT accident too.

Dumoulin will be happy with his current GC position and the fact Sunweb don’t have to commit fully to any chase. They have helped out here and there over the past few stages but it has been more to show face than anything else. It will be interesting to see if they help out tomorrow – does Dumoulin and the team want the pressure of the jersey already?

The two GC teams that I do think will help to chase, especially if the break is kept on a tight leash coming into the final 60km will be Mitchelton and Bahrain. Both Yates and Pozzovivo have looked very lively in the past couple of days which indicates that they are in a confident mood given the tricky finishes we have had. If those teams commit a man to the chase from the gun then the break has no chance, but if not, then we could well see a surprise.

I’m very torn as to how this stage will pan out, as you can probably tell by now!

I’m nailing my colours to the mast and saying if we get a GC showdown it is between Yates and Pozzovivo for the stage but I want to mention a couple of potential breakaway riders as well.


Giulio Ciccone.


The Bardiani rider was flying in the Tour of the Alps, which saw him then going on to win Giro dell’Apennino not long after. He crashed the day before the start of the Giro in Israel, suffering some damage to his hand. As Bardiani’s hopes for the mountains, he’s lost some time on GC over the past couple of stages and I would expect to see him on the attack in stages to come. A very talented rider, he already has a Giro stage to his name when he won a tough stage to Sestola back in 2016 when he was only 21 years old. In fact, adding to that is his Queen Stage win in the Tour of Utah  and it paints the picture of a guy who can go well in the high mountains. If he makes the break and starts Etna with a 2-minute advantage, the peloton won’t see him until the top.

Rodolfo Torres.

Sticking with the Italian pro-conti teams here and Androni’s pure-climber. Torres is a bit of an enigma in that whenever he is going well he seems to be really strong but he often goes missing in a lot of races. So far here he has done nothing noteworthy and now finds himself over 5 minutes down on GC. Androni have been well represented in the break every day and tomorrow would be a good day to try to get the Colombian into the move. If he’s on a good day and makes a break with some average climbers, then he has a good chance.


Could see a break, could see a GC showdown. Hmmmm.

Things will get brought back by a keen Mitchelton and Bahrain led chase with both of their main riders attacking in the closing kilometres and getting a gap. I would normally go with Yates on a finish like this given his better sprint but with how red-hot Pozzovivo has been riding so far this past month, I have to go with him to take a “magmanomous” victory! Sorry.



These are the types of days where I really don’t like to get involved with GC rider bets pre-stage. Particularly when the odds don’t change too much once the stage starts but they look chunky for Pozzo whereas they look short for Ciccone.

1.15pt EW Pozzovivo @ 14/1 with Bet365

0.2pt WIN Torres @ 200/1


Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think is going to win? Could we see a break stay away or will the GC guys come out to play? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.


Giro d’Italia 2018 Stage 5 Preview: Agrigento -> Santa Ninfa

Today’s Recap

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.

The Route

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.

Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 14.15.08

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

Giovanni Visconti.

Giro d'Italia 2017

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.

Jose Goncalves.

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?

Max Schachmann.



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.


Giro d’Italia 2018 Stage 4 Preview: Catania -> Caltagirone

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.

The Route

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.

Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 15.28.23

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,

Alexandre Geniez.


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!

Pello Bilbao.

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.

Carlos Betancur.


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.



Giro d’Italia 2018 Stage 3 Preview; Be’er Sheva -> Eilat

Today’s Recap

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.

The Route

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.

Screen Shot 2018-05-05 at 17.53.55

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.

Screen Shot 2018-05-05 at 17.58.56

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.

Screen Shot 2018-05-05 at 18.00.54

The final turn then awaits with 300m to go.

Screen Shot 2018-05-05 at 18.05.04

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?

Weather Watch

That of course all depends on one thing: the wind.

Screen Shot 2018-05-05 at 18.08.49
Source: Windfinder

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!

The opportunists?

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!

Matej Mohoric.

Screen Shot 2018-05-05 at 19.12.45

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!

Jose Goncalves.

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.

Tim Wellens.

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.



Giro d’Italia 2018 GC Preview: The Fight for Pink

Giro d’Italia 2018 GC Preview: The Fight for Pink

My favourite Grand Tour (and I hope your’s too) starts this Friday in Israel for its 101st edition. In 2017 we saw Tom Dumoulin avoid a toilet scare to take the overall win, his maiden Grand Tour success. If it wasn’t for the two minutes he lost to the eventual podium finishers Quintana and Nibali on that famous day, then his lead at the end of the race would have been more commanding/comfortable.


Dumoulin is here to defend his title but with so few race days to his name so far this year, does he have the form to do so?

Key Stages

As I’ll be doing daily stage previews I’m not going to go into anything too in depth here about each stage, instead, I’ll just highlight the stages where we might see some GC action or time gaps.

Stage 1.

Although the opening TT is only 9.7km long, I would expect to see some time gaps between the stronger TT GC riders compared to the purer climbers. The slightly rolling course should in theory mean that the gaps are smaller but in a similar length of TT back in the 2016 Giro, Dumoulin took 30 seconds out of Chaves. Nothing too crazy, but it still will give some an uphill battle from the start.

Stage 6.



The first mountain top finish of the race sees the peloton climb Mt Etna for the second year in a row, but this season they approach the peak from a different side. At an average of 6.5% for 15kms, it isn’t too tough by Giro standards but it will be a rude awakening for anyone hoping to save themself during the first week. Let’s just hope we don’t get a headwind like last year.

Stages 8 & 9.

I’m grouping these two together because they’re very similar with both having mountain finishes but neither of them are that difficult gradient wise. Both have lesser average gradients than Etna but on Stage 9 the final 4km of the climb does average north of 8% with ramps much steeper than that. They also do climb a Cat-1 climb just before the final climb as well. If we haven’t seen much action before that day then it could be a good stage for a “lesser” GC threat to sneak away and take a win or with the double ascent, it could be our first GC showdown. It all depends on how it is raced.

Stage 14.


I hope you’ve got this one booked off work, it is the infamous Zoncolan day! I’m sure the riders would have hoped for a nice easy day in the saddle before tackling one of the toughest climbs in the sport. Instead, the organisers have cruelly added in several short but steep climbs to test the legs before the final ascent. Monte Zoncolan averages 11.9% for just over 10kms, need I say more?

Stage 15.

With yesterday’s efforts already in their legs the riders will have to face what I would call a typical Giro stage: lots of Cat-2 climbs packed into the last 50kms. The sawtooth profile looks perfect for a classic Astana a la 2015 raid, but if everyone expects it, can it still happen?

Stage 16.


After the last rest day comes arguably one of the more important GC stages with a mainly flat 34km ITT. Riders often react differently after a rest day so we might see some surprising results but expect the likes of Froome and Dumoulin to put some big time into their rivals here.

Stage 18.

What everyone would have wanted before the Zoncolan, instead they get it before Pratonevoso. Pretty much a flat day out aside from a few hills here and there, this is all about the final ascent. At an average of 6.9% for 13.9kms, we could see some of the climbers who lost time on the TT set their sights on gaining it back here.

Stage 19.


Cima Coppi day as the riders tackle the famous Finestre with its many kilometres of gravel roads. Expect plenty of Italians to be in the break hoping to crest it first but depending on the GC situation, we could see a full-out war here. Will anyone be bold enough for a long-range attack on the Finestre? With the 7kms at 9% average final climb of Jafferau someones title bid might come of the rails here.

Stage 20.

The last day for any GC action to happen and it is a stage back loaded with climbs: three cat-1 ascents in the last 85kms to be exact. From that 85km to go mark the road only goes up or down, with very little flat valley road in between to offer respite. This should be a cracker, it is just a shame we don’t have Nibali here to try something crazy. A last roll of the dice for those wanting to improve their overall position.

A Two-Horse Race?

According to the bookmakers there are two riders who head the order: Dumoulin and Froome.

Tom Dumoulin.

sptdw90055_670 (1)

Last year’s winner, he’s been lightly raced so far this season with only 12 days under his belt so far with his latest appearance at Liege being the only race he’s competed in for a month. It didn’t seem to go too badly for him though as he finished a respectable 15th place – not a bad way to blow off the cobwebs. It is hard to judge where his form is at though given his little racing but he wouldn’t be coming to the race if he wasn’t prepared  for it. Sunweb must have a plan and I wonder if they hope he can ride himself into the race to be stronger in the final week. It’s a bold strategy with a few important stages coming in the first half of the race but it is one we’ve seen work well in the past for plenty of riders. His team is ok but there will be a lot of pressure on Oomen to stay with him as long possible, something I think the youngster is capable of. Dumoulin managed perfectly fine without Kelderman last year after he crashed out so some added help here will be pleasing for him. However, the only reason he managed well last year without Kelderman is that the first of the longer TTs came on stage 10 so he held a commanding 2:23 lead over second-placed Quintana after that day, meaning he could ride more conservatively and rely on other riders protecting their own positions. With the TT coming later in the race this year, I’m intrigued to see what effect that has on everything.

Chris Froome.


Let’s get round to the elephant in the room then…He’s here and as much as I don’t think he should be, I’m just going to have to get over it like everyone else.

Going for an historic 3 GT titles in a row with only Merckx holding all three in the same order before. This will be the Brit’s first participation at the Giro since he was DQ’d back in 2010 for holding onto a motorbike to help get up the Mortirolo climb – he has certainly came a long way from then. From his season so far it is hard to judge exactly where he is as he hasn’t exactly lit up the races he has attended, although that did change a bit at the Tour of the Alps when we saw him spin up the washing machine cadence a few times to no avail. If this was 2016 I would say he has no chance, but we saw last year that no real results before a big race doesn’t mean he won’t deliver: an underwhelming 4th at the Dauphiné was followed up with a win at the Tour. Not bad, bearing in mind he most definitely had one eye on the Vuelta and was undercooked a bit for the race. This year he just happened to finish 4th at the Tour of the Alps – will something similar happen?

The Three Waiting in Line

Just behind the two at the head of the market, the bookmakers have three other riders who are all priced under 10/1: Lopez, Pinot and Aru.

Miguel Angel Lopez.

I’m a big fan of Superman, so much so that I boldly backed him for GC at his first Grand Tour (the Vuelta) last season. He didn’t win, but he managed a very respectable 8th place and picked up two stage wins along the way. So far this year he has produced some strong showings in Oman, Abu Dhabi and the Alps finishing on the GC podium at each of those races. Astana are flying here and they bring a stupidly strong squad with them that is very reminiscent of their 2015 armada, I hope we see some fireworks in the last week. Lopez should be able to match and in theory go better than Dumoulin/Froome in the high mountains but he will lose a good chunk of time in the TT. Can he claw enough of it back? My one concern with him is that he only had 40 race days last year due to him missing the first 5 months of the season after a crash. This season he has already competed on 25 days so he will pass all of last year’s total before the end of the race. Will fatigue catch up with him?

Thibaut Pinot.

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The winner of the recent Tour of the Alps, the Frenchman looked strong in the race managing to close down a lot of attacks once he was isolated. Once thought of as a decent GC TT rider, he had an absolute mare of an effort against the clock last year which cost him a podium place – he will need to improve on that this season if he wants to go better. He’s one of those riders that I would love to see go well but he always seems to just have one bad day which costs him a great result. If he has gotten over that then he is a real danger for the title. Interestingly enough, you have to go back to 2013 for the last time someone won both the ToTA (was called Trentino then) and the Giro: that rider was Nibali. Can he break the duck?

Fabio Aru.

The UAE rider has had a bit of a stinker this season so far with his 6th place on GC at the recent Tour of the Alps his best performance. None of that matters though as Aru is only ever really good in the Grand Tours and it is impossible to predict when he’ll go well outside them. For example, he has 9 pro wins to his name of which 7 have been at a Grand Tour, including the overall title at the Vuelta in 2015. He hasn’t seemed the same rider since he burst onto the scene in 2014 and 2015 and I just can’t help but think he will struggle here as well. He just lacks the consistency. One day he will be flying then the following day he will needlessly lose time. This is the Giro though and things can change so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him even take the lead of the race at some point but no matter how good he is, the TT will be his undoing.

The Outsiders

Domenico Pozzovivo.


The Italian rider seems to have found a new lease of life with Bahrain and has had a very consistent start to his year, with three top 15s in a row on GC at WT level stage races. He then followed that up with a lively performance in the Alps before a solid 5th place in Liege. The one thing that impressed me most in the Alps, aside from his climbing, was his descending. This is a guy who had a very serious crash at this race back in 2015 while on a descent but he seems to be over that and riding without fear. Like a few others the TT will probably let him down but he should put on a show over the three weeks. A dark horse for the podium if others falter.

Esteban Chaves.

After a terrible 2017 compared to his incredible 2016, the Colombian can blame some personal issues for that, he still hasn’t returned to anywhere near his best so far this season with a win in the Herald Sun Tour his best result. Apart from that, he has been very poor. He is a classy bike rider so he could turn it around, it just depends on where his mind is at. He has been over in Colombia training at home which will certainly have helped – after he did that in 2015 he came and blew the Vuelta away in the opening week. I’m sure everyone watching the sport will just want to see him smiling again! I can’t see him competing for the title or even the podium here.

Simon Yates.

I do think his team-mate has a chance though as an outside podium shot. Yates has finished 6th and 7th at the Vuelta and the Tour in the past but this is his first attempt at the Giro. An attacking rider, he has performed well so far this year in Paris Nice and Catalunya taking stage wins at both races and finishing with a strong GC position too. I always forget that Yates was a former trackie and product of the British Cycling academy so his ability often surprises me. Like Pozzovivo, I think he will be there waiting for others to falter.

George Bennett – He’s came on a lot of the past few years and is a strong top 10 candidate but despite a good showing in the Alps, I just can’t see him competing for a podium place or even top 5.


Rohan Dennis – This is a big year for him in terms of his GC plan. He looked lean and strong in Romandie but does he have the consistency for three weeks? I’ll wait and see.

Wout Poels – Do Sky have a plan B? If so, I imagine it would be either the Dutchman or De La Cruz but given Poels’ previous performance in GTs then he is the safer option. Had a blistering start to the year but was halted due to a crash in Paris Nice. Has he recovered enough from that injury? It will be interesting to see if Sky to keep someone else high on GC or will they do the usual and let the mountain goats rest over the first week and lose time.

Louis Meintjes – We’ll see him in his usual position, collecting tickets at the back of the pack as riders fall back. I’ll be shocked if we see him attack more than two times throughout the race. Nonetheless he’s consistent so 9th place awaits him.

Tim Wellens – Will he go for GC or not? If so he could be like the Jungels surprise from 2016. Capable of a top 10, it just depends on his weight or ambition.

Davide Formolo – Lively in Liege, he should be another rider that will finish in or around the fringes of the top 10.

Michael Woods – Does he go for GC or target stage wins or another competition? Time is against the Canadian but a second place in Liege shows he has good legs at the moment.


Tough one to call, as are all Grand Tours due to the length of them and the fact that anything can happen over the three weeks. However, I think the TT will be very decisive and I just can’t see anyone pulling off a successful raid in the final week to disrupt anything too much, it will need either Froome or Dumoulin to crack.

Therefore, it pains me to say it, but Froome to win.


Even though Sky have had terrible luck at this race in the past I think that will change this year. They bring an incredibly strong mountain squad with them to protect Froome and control the race as much as they can. Froome will match Dumoulin closely in the TT and he will go better in the high mountains than him. I also think they’ll keep Poels relatively close in contention to counter any craziness from Astana or to give them a second option if Froome falters.

Dumoulin will still take home second with Yates a surprising third.

Buy Me A Beer (Coffee)

After floating the idea around on Twitter of charging for tips or previews and getting inconclusive results back, I’ve decided that I’m most happy with just keeping everything free at the moment. However, this means that throughout the Giro I am going to be selling my soul by shamelessly promoting the “Buy Me A Beer” donation link on my blog. So if you want to support me and the countless hours that I put into doing research and writing the blogs themself (not only for the Giro but the rest of the season), then I would be over the moon if you were able to Buy Me A Beer (I’ll probably use it for coffee) through the following link .



As for antepost bets for the Giro, I’m not a massive fan of betting on GC outright due to the unpredictability of a three-week race. I am tempted to break that rule by backing Yates but I’ll leave it. However, I am interested in backing Poels for a top 10 finish.

3pts Poels Top 10 @ 2/1 with William Hill. (Would take 6/4 elsewhere).

As for anything else, I tweeted out that I was backing Ruben Fernandez for KOM at 200/1. That price quickly disappeared but I still think he is value at his current price. Movistar bring a team without a GC leader so will be on the hunt for stages and other competitions so I think the gifted climber and former Tour de l’Avenir winner is worth a punt.

0.25pt EW Fernandez for KOM @ 200/1 with Bet365 (Would still take the 80/1 available now)

Also, William Hill have some interesting group betting for the race and Yates has caught my eye in the group below.

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2pts WIN Yates @ 5/2.

That’s everything for just now and I’ll be back tomorrow with a stage 1 preview.

Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think is going to take home the crown come the end of the month? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.




Giro d’Italia 2017 Stage 21 Preview; Monza -> Milano

Today’s Recap

We saw some GC sparklers, not fireworks today, purely because everyone seemed equally on their limit!

Katusha pushed the pace early on which ultimately lead to a Zakarin attack on the final climb and he was joined by Pozzovivo. Unfortunately for them; Pinot, Nibali and Quintana bridged just after the KOM point.

We had a bit of cat and mouse-ing between that group and it looked for a while as if those dropped on the climb were going to get back on. However, thanks to some close motorbikes and some dodgy time gaps anyway, they were able to duke it out in the sprint to the line, holding onto a 15 second advantage from Dumoulin and co.

Pinot asserted his dominance as the fastest sprinter in the group, taking his first Giro win.


Zakarin came home second with Nibali picking up some bonus seconds in third.

It leaves everything finely balanced going into the final TT.

Let’s take a look at what’s in store for the riders.

The Route

A pan-flat course suited to the powerful riders in the peloton.


The course descends at a very shallow rate from around 9km to go all the way to the finish. It won’t be too noticeable but it should certainly ensure that the speed will be kept high!


Furthermore, it’s not an overly technical route either, with several long straights for the riders to put the power down. It is only once we get close to the centre of Milan that things get a bit more dicey.


As you can see, there are a lot of 90-degree (some sharper) turns within the closing 5km so a rider willing to take some risks and carry speed through the corners can gain an advantage.

Thankfully for the riders, the weather looks to be holding up for most of the day and they should all face similar conditions.


Dumoulin obviously will start the stage as favourite and rightly so. He absolutely decimated the opposition in the first time trial and compared to his GC rivals, this course suits him even better. However, has the past week taken too much out of him? He really struggled yesterday but coped relatively well today, commenting post stage that he had good legs. Riding a good TT after a tough Grand Tour is a completely different beast compared to resting for a few days and pulling out a result. It would be stupid of me to dismiss him, but I don’t think he’ll have it all his own way.


From the GC contenders Zakarin, Pinot and Jungels look the most likely to contend with the Dutchman. The first two riders can pull off a good TT on their day and will be hoping for a much better performance than their first efforts against the clock. Although I’m sure both would prefer a slightly more undulating route. Jungels will definitely like the power course and he is a serious challenger to Dumoulin for the stage. Yet again though, it depends on how much the race has taken out of him but he has looked strong the past few stages after seemingly cracking on stage 18.

Who out of the non-GC riders will be contending?

Kiryienka  – Depends if he tries or not. If he does, he really should be up there but he only properly gets going after 20km so I’m sure he would have loved an extra 10km on top.

Luis Leon Sanchez – The first of the non-GC riders home in the first time trial, the Spaniard has been active this race in the mountains. He looked tired on yesterday’s stage but had a relatively quiet day in the saddle today, saving himself for tomorrow?

Jos Van Emden – After managing to finish in the top 10 on the first TT, the Dutchman should enjoy this flatter course even more. He rolled home today in the gruppetto and I would not be surprised to see him go well tomorrow.

As for some outsiders…

Stef Clement.

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He of Wongshot fame gets another mention. The Jumbo rider is a solid TT rider on his day but has been a bit anonymous in the discipline over the past few years. However, if he manages to find his legs then he can definitely compete as he is one of those riders who excels at this distance.

Tobias Ludvigsson.

I couldn’t go the whole Giro without naming one of my favourite riders, could I?! Working in support of Pinot, Ludvigsson has performed well as a domestique this Giro. He survived a fall a few stages ago and even ended up in the break the day after. With Pinot needing a good bench-mark time to aim at from his team-mates, Ludvigsson is the ideal candidate for that situation.


It more than likely has to be Dumoulin, but that’s no fun, so I’ll go for everyone’s favourite Swede to upset the apple cart and beat his former team-mate.

08-05-2016 Giro D'italia; Tappa 03 Nijmegen - Arnhem; 2016, Giant-alpecin; Ludvigsson, Tobias; Arnhem;


Tweeted out my selections before;

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So avoid those two at all costs!


Thanks again for reading, especially if you’ve stuck with my awful predictions for this Giro! Your continued support means a lot.

I’m not sure what’s next on the blog as I haven’t even spared any thought to the upcoming races yet. Most likely the Dauphine and the Women’s Tour. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.