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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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 random.org 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.

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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!

Prediction

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

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

Betting

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.

 

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

Prediction

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.

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

Betting

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.