By David Hunter
Sulmona – Foligno 211km
Anyone tired yet?
Another long stage, as the riders head up to Foligno.
With some of the sprinters likely to leave the race after stage 9, so this represents a last chance. The whispers are that Kittel and Ewan might just head home, but I expect Greipel to stay until the end of week 2. Whoever leaves, the sprinters will be keen on another bunch finish.
The stage again begins with a climb, the organisers are not going to be popular with the sprinters. It’s just not nice waking up to 9km at 5%! The crucial point of the race is the cat 4 climb cresting with 40km remaining. It comes in at 6.7km at 4.9%, but the road does rise for 17km in total, at 3%. Matteo Pelucchi ain’t going to like that!
Plan A – Get a rider in the morning break and take it easy after a demanding couple of stages. Wake up in the last 10km and try to disrupt the Etixx train.
Plan B – Go crazy on the cat 4 climb and try to break the Strava record, plus put Kittel and few other sprinters out of the race.
Plan C – Go for an all Italian break and pray for a nice moto driver.
Plan D – Hope Etixx make a mess of the sprint and hover close by!
After a long straight for many kilometres, the riders have to tackle three tight corners just before the 1km to go kite. Looks good for Etixx and Lampre, not so great for Lotto and Greipel.
Marcel Kittel – two stage wins already, this represents a huge chance of taking his first Giro win in Italy. The hills shouldn’t be a problem for him and his lead-out train are clearly the best here. Win number three his is to lose.
Andre Greipel – the Gorilla now has some confidence, watch him go. He broke his power PB just days before the race, hitting 2100 watts in training. He needs every last one of these to beat Kittel, but he needs to be on his wheel. That won’t be easy considering all of the corners.
Sacha Modolo – a man made for the corners! Lampre delivered him into a great position on Wednesday, but he lost position due to the crash. I really like the work of Ferrari, he is a brilliant final man.
Caleb Ewan – the wee Aussie is a master at jumping from wheel to wheel. I shouldn’t have to remind you of his brilliant performances in criteriums. I don’t think he’ll be here much longer, so would like to mix it with the big boys in this stage. Just Bewley and Mezgec isn’t a big enough sprint train.
Elia Viviani – the enigma! Great one day, rubbish the next. I have no idea which Viviani will show up.
Arnaud Demare – the Frenchman has been very impressive so far. His sprint train worked brilliantly on stage 1 and 5. He has been close but does lack the top end speed of Kittel and Greipel.
Giacomo Nizzolo – not had a good time in this race. His train looks weak and so does he. He does have a lot of quality, so should be able of turning this around.
It is a stage that offers the breakaway riders a little hope. If the bunch hesitate, they could build a sizeable advantage. Look to the Italian teams for breakaway options. I’m thinking of Nicola Boem and Liam Bertazzo.
Should be fine, but with a chance of rain. The wind will be strong and it comes from the south. That means a lot of crosswind but the run for home is a tailwind.
I think we get another sprint and Kittel wins.
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