By David Hunter
Ferrara – Nervesa della Battaglia 180km
Another boring sprint stage?
Looks very similar to stage 12, but the climb is further from the finish and it’s an easier hill to deal with. Another sprint finish them.
No corners in the final 5km. This looks easy, but it actually makes life harder for the sprint trains. Corners help to line the bunch out, without them, we have wave after wave of riders hitting the front and then losing positions. Sprint trains need to stay together and time their attack to perfection.
A nicer day for the bunch with lots of sunshine.
Things To Watch For
Viviani’s wheel – the battle to sit behind Viviani will be fierce. The Italian has the best sprint train and is the fastest sprinter in the race. It looks like most of his rivals realise that the only way to beat him is to get a boost from his slipstream. Bennett won the fight back on stage 7, which was a huge factor in his stage win. In order to combat this, QuickStep could try and place one of their own riders in this spot. This is a tactic I’ve seen used before and it can be successful.
Over excited sprint trains – the long straight is made for teams to hit the front too early. Some squads will hit the front at 3km and never been seen again. The more experienced teams will hang back and surge forward inside the final 2km.
Jumbo – they are knocking on the door. A 2nd place today will have done Van Poppel the world of good, he is a rider who sometimes lacks confidence. His sprint train have also been close to getting things right. If the stars align, they could surprise.
QuickStep reaction – today was poor, as was stage 7. The Wolfpack aren’t used to this and I expect to see them come out fighting.
Buoyant Bennett – so brave to go from 400m today. That move sums up his level of confidence at this minute. Despite not having a recognised lead out train, the Irishman continues to deliver. It will be interesting to see how he approaches this sprint, the lack of Rudi Selig has to come back to haunt him at some point.
There is simply no point mentioning the same names, with the same explanations. Instead, here is a different take:-
Elia Viviani – two wins, now looks to be lacking a little.
Sam Bennett – two wins, now looks to be flying.
Danny Van Poppel – improving every stage.
Niccolo Bonfazio – can’t see him winning, but the podium is possible.
Sacha Modolo – no thanks.
Jurgen Roelandts – his GT experience will now start to count.
I expect a reaction from QuickStep and a win for Elia Viviani.
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