By David Hunter
Molvena – Cassano d’Adda 196km
This is what the Italian sprinters have been waiting for.
Just the one categorised climb, at least Damiano Cunego can have a day off! This should be a sprint, but with only two main sprinters left, the break has a better chance than usual of staying away.
Considering the last couple of sprints, this is a very easy finish. Time to look at the sprinters left in the race.
Giacomo Nizzolo – looking good to retain the red jersey, now he can turn his attention to winning a stage. Despite being a top level sprinter for a number of years, Nizzolo, has only taken 12 pro wins. Only one has come in the world tour, back in the 2012 Eneco Tour. That doesn’t make for good reading. Without Cancellara and Van Poppel, his sprint train isn’t great. Expect to see Bobridge, Didier, Coledan and Alafaci working hard for the Italian. He has been consistent in the sprints so far, taking one 2nd place, two 3rd places and one 4th. Will start as the big favourite.
Sacha Modolo – his record is far superior to Nizzolo’s, with 40 pro wins to his name. He has 4 WT victories, including 2 in the 2015 Giro. He has two 3rd places to his name, one 4th and one 7th, so he hasn’t been as good as Nizzolo in this year’s Giro. His sprint train is better though. Looking to support him in the closing stages will be Mori, Petilli and Ferrari. It looks certain that Modolo will start the sprint at the front of the race, it will be up to Nizzolo to try and come round him.
Sonny Colbrelli – looking strong just now, but only gets his chance as Ruffoni is away home. He will be guided into place by Paolo Simion, a fast rider in his own right. Colbrelli will hope for a top 5 finish.
Rick Zabel – despite not really being a sprinter, the German took two top 10 finishes in the opening week. He has the benefit of being a strong rider and if the other riders are suffering from fatigue, he has a good chance of featuring in the sprint.
Alberto Bettiol – young Italian fast man from Cannondale. This is his first grand tour, so he might already be cooked. Doesn’t get many opportunities to sprint, but did manage three top 10 finishes in the 2015 Tour of Britain. Might have to fight with Navardauskas to get the nod!
Kristian Sbaragli – not really shown up in the Giro. He has been slowed down by catching a cold, but he is always fighting a losing battle. A lack of a sprint train leaves the Italian by himself in the last 3km. He is good at positioning, but is starting his sprint from around 10th wheel. You won’t finish on the podium starting so far back!
Matteo Trentin – only has the help of Serry and Wisniowski, but he is a very fast sprinter. If he finds a good position, he does have the speed to finish on the podium.
Ivan Savitskiy – top 10.
Heinrich Haussler – I’m looking forward to seeing what Haussler can do in this final week. He can still call upon Stake Laengen and Kluge to help with positioning. The hard racing should have taken an edge off the pure sprinters, meaning that Haussler should be able to compete with them. Like all the IAM riders, he is now riding for a new contract.
Eduard Grosu – top 10.
Nikias Arndt – the German has been very poor in the Giro, with a best finish of 12th. I don’t expect anything from him.
Alexander Porsev – nice and consistent, so far. He has two 5th places, one 6th and one 7th. He no longer has Tsatevich to lead him out, but can still count upon Kochetkov and Kuznetsov. He’s a real contender for the podium.
Enrico Battaglin – doubtful he will go full gas as he is needed to help Kruijswijk in the mountains. Just imagine if he crashed!
Manuel Belletti – the experienced Italian sprinter should be looking at another top 10 performance.
More sun but a little windy. As they turn right out of Brescia, it will be a cross/headwind until the finish. GC riders will have to be on their guard.
Slim! Needs to be all Italian and have a kind moto driver in front of them. Contenders are Boem and Oss.
Nizzolo v Modolo. Despite having the better lead out, I think Nizzolo seems to have the edge over his Italian pal. About time he won a stage of the Giro!
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