By David Hunter
San Candido – Piancavallo 191km
More fun in the mountains.
After another thrilling stage today, the race quietens down a little. Despite starting with a climb, this stage is not as difficult as some would like.
The opening cat 3 climb is 7.9km at 4.3%. Even if taken very fast, it just isn’t hard enough to establish big gaps. The climbing really begins later in the stage.
The cat 2 climb is 11.75km at 5.5%. This isn’t tough enough for attacks, especially with a long way to go until the final climb.
The cat 1 ascent to Piancavallo is 15.45km at 7.3%, that includes a brutally steep opening 6km. This section is where we could see some real damage, especially from 4.5km to 6km, which is averaging around 11%.
The end of the climb is actually rather easy, with the road almost completely flattening out. The gaps need to be made on the early slopes.
Not as good as previous days. The easier looking profile isn’t wonderful news for the breakaway boys. It makes it likely we’ll see a couple of GC teams control the break and go for the stage win. We still have plenty of GC riders who will want a stage win.
Dumoulin put on a show today. The big Dutchman has an air of invincibility about him just now. This stage is much easier for his team to control, I think he’ll only be tested on the final climb. He has shown already that he will be a very difficult man to beat.
Another sunny day with a light wind coming from the north.
Nairo Quintana – it’s clear to see that he’s not 100%. Saying that, he was able to follow the move of Dumoulin with ease. I would say Quintana looks around 90%, but it’s not impossible to find the extra ten percent in the coming days. Movistar are still riding well, they will give Quintana every chance of fighting it out for the win.
Vincenzo Nibali – tried today, but couldn’t get away. It looks very difficult for the Shark to now overturn Dumoulin and battle for the pink jersey. It looks like he’ll have to settle for a place on the podium. He will be closely marked by the others, making it very hard for him to escape.
Tom Dumoulin – he continues to grow in confidence, it’s been great to see his development in this race. The final climb looks good for him and he’s already shown that he’s not scared of attacking. He has showed to everyone that he won’t be easily lent on.
LL Sanchez – usual suspect number 1.
Pierre Rolland – usual suspect number 2.
Rui Costa – usual suspect number 3.
Mikel Landa – when will he learn? Do not lead out the sprint! Landa has been in brilliant form, but he still hasn’t won a stage. I don’t see him trying to go in the morning break, I think he’ll try to win from the GC group. This tactic almost worked for him on Oropa, can it work even better in this stage?
Thibaut Pinot – took his chance today, but just couldn’t reach the front two. It was good to see him back on form, after struggling for a couple of stages. Now sitting just 24 seconds behind Nibali, he will sense an opportunity to make the overall podium. It also helps to help a brilliant worker in Sebastien Reichenbach, he is worth his weight in gold.
The breakaway won’t survive. Back in the GC fight, expect Movistar to set tempo up the climb and Quintana to attack. When he does, will it be a good enough gap to distance Dumoulin and co? I still believe that Quintana will come good, I’ll go with him for the stage win, but Dumoulin to stay in pink.
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