By David Hunter
Modena – Asolo 227km
Another long day in the saddle.
The end of the stage is much harder than the profile suggest.
This is not a day for the sprinters, it’s way too hard!
After a boring day, the peloton are faced with a cat 4 climb, cresting with 20km remaining. The organisers are having a laugh, no way this is cat 4! We have 2km at 8.1%, then 900m at 10.2%. Once over the top, there is very little time for anyone to rejoin the front group.
This is a hugely demanding finish! Constantly changing gradients makes it very hard for the peloton to control and the final ramp of 6% is great for a late attack. This is a horrible finish.
After a tiring day, most teams will be looking forward to a day off. Let a big break go and sleep until the final 20km. Or, let a small break go and sleep until the final 20km. Whatever happens, don’t expect much action until km 200.
Yet again, the pressure will be on Movistar to control the race. With the stage looking too hard for the sprinters, Valverde will start as favourite. Movistar will not want to waste energy on a stage like this, so they’ll seek some help. Looking to come to their assistance will be Lampre, Cannondale and Bardiani.
The stage is also great news for Diego Ulissi, Ramunas Navardauskas and Sonny Colbrelli. Cannondale have not had much to cheer in this race, a stage like this is perfect for the fast finishing man from Lithuania. With the stage being very long, most teams would like to get in the break, or pray that it’s just a small move.
I’m hoping we do get a chase and the peloton have to battle it out for the stage, I’m getting a little bored of breakaways!
Like in all Giro stages, there is a 50% chance of rain at the finish. Probably dry then!
Alejandro Valverde – he’s already been very consistent in the race, and clearly is the fastest finisher of the GC riders. Movistar will be reluctant to control the stage from the beginning, they’ll want some help. A break of 4 would be perfect, as Movistar could contol that with 2 men. They would like to keep Betancur, Visconti and Amador until the final 20km. If the bunch explodes, Valverde will need some help to control any late attacks.
Diego Ulissi – the climb is similar to Ulissi’s stage win earlier in the race. He’s not as fast as Valverde, so he’ll need to attack on the climb. Still not a genuine GC contender, he could get some freedom.
Sonny Colbrelli – the only “sprinter” capable of surviving on stage 4. This would be a late birthday present for the Italian, it was his birthday today. The climb is right on his limit and if we get attacks he won’t make the finish.
Moreno Moser – he was 3rd into Arezzo, so still looking to get a result to match his good legs. Rides in the same team as Navardauskas, so he might be their man for the morning break.
Bob Jungels – now in pink, he’s bound to come under attack from Movistar. He leads Amador by 26 seconds, so he really should continue in pink for a couple more stages. Jungels will need some teammates to help chase down the attacks.
Tim Wellens – when will he attack? At the start or on the climb? Always in with a big chance on stages like this.
Ramunas Navardauskas – as mentioned already, he is a big chance in this stage. He would hope to make the finish and add to his collection of Giro wins.
If saving energy is high up on the agenda for teams, then the break should survive. The opening 200km is easy, a couple of teams can control a small break without trouble. The hopes of the break will depend on the size and composition. With another easy stage to follow, teams might just ask their riders to dig deep and chase the break. Whatever happens, the opening kilometres are going to be incredibly fast.
If you are looking for breakaway riders, stick to the Italians. Expect to see Oss, Busato, Conti and Bisolti. Now that Landa has gone, Nico Roche will be on the hunt for stages too.
I’ll be greedy and take two picks. Busato for the break and Valverde if it comes back together.
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