By David Hunter
Tortoli – Cagliari 148km
A very easy day in the saddle for the peloton, as they take a gentle route down the coast. It looks similar to a Sunday club run!
We have a few little lumps along the way, but nothing to worry the riders. This stage has no major obstacles for the riders.
The finish is as easy as the rest of the stage. We have a roundabout soon after the 5km to go sign, then an easy run towards the finishing line. This is a dream finish for a sprinter.
More sun, but also more wind. There is a prediction of very strong winds coming from the north-west. That makes it a cross/tailwind for the run down the coast and a cross/headwind once they turn for Cagliari. Forecasters are saying we could get 50mph wind in the afternoon, that is a huge worry for some GC contenders. Expect lots of nerves, as some riders will be worried about losing any chance of taking the pink jersey.
Andre Greipel – his sprint train did a very poor job on Friday. After some honest conversations, I would expect them to come back fighting. Greipel sprinted well, but couldn’t match the acceleration of Caleb Ewan, but that was only sprinting for 2nd, Greipel had a lot more win sprinting for his win today. The Lotto boys are brilliant in the wind, they will look forward to any echelons.
Caleb Ewan – missed a chance on Friday, he was clearly the best of the sprinters. In the closing kilometres he simply didn’t have enough helpers and it didn’t help that Edmondson wasn’t strong enough to close the gap to Postlberger. This is another chance and the easier finish could mean he has more help at the end of the race. Ewan will have lots of confidence and has a great chance of taking the win. After a mechanical denied him today, I think we’ll see him even more motivated than usual.
Fernando Gaviria – was poor on Friday, but better today. The Colombian does not look 100% yet, that’s not bad thing considering it’s a three week race. However, after picking him for the last two stages, I’ve lost a little faith in him.
Matteo Pelucchi – with Sam Bennett suffering with illness, Bora will turn to their Italian. When he is focused and motivated, he is one of the finest sprinters in the world. Looking at his rivals, he has a serious chance of making the podium.
Giacomo Nizzolo – don’t worry about him getting dropped today, he was never a contender for stage 2. The Italian will come back strong in this stage. Stuyven didn’t really lead him out on Friday, it looked like both riders were both sprinting for the win. Now that we are a few stages in, I think Stuyven will revert to lead out duties. Nizzolo is another that has a good chance of making the podium.
Sacha Modolo – his team looked great on Friday, easily the most represented in the closing kilometres. I had my doubts about UAE, but they seemed to step up a level and will look to do the same job in this stage. They have drafted Marco Marcato into their train and he does add power, with Ferrari his usually self leading out Modolo. As they were on the front, Modolo had to launch his sprint first and was caught out by the headwind. His sprint still seemed quite good to me. The Italian can also perform well in the wind. Today saw Ferrari sprint to second place, but I expect Modolo to be sprinting in Cagliari.
If the wind really is as strong as predicted, it spells disaster for many GC riders. This will create a sense of unease in the bunch, with many riders not great in tough conditions. In normal circumstances, the teams that would benefit are QuickStep, Lotto, Movistar, Sky and Jumbo. The climbers on the other teams won’t be overly impressed, but to win a grand tour it’s only fair that you can ride in all conditions and on all terrain.
We could see a small group get away and ride together until the finish line. We have seen this before in windy conditions in both the Tour and Vuelta, but it’s not a common thing in the Giro. Usually it’s the rain that splits things up in Italy.
Due to the wind, I’m going with a “safe” prediction. He was 3rd on Friday and won today, plus, he can cope with windy conditions. I’ll go with Andre Greipel to take another stage win.
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