By David Hunter
Agrigento – Santa Ninfa 153km
Another tough stage in Sicily.
First thing to note is that the stage is only 153km long, the shortest real stage of the whole race. That is reflected in the climbing statistics, as the bunch only climb for 2206m, much less that today’s stage.
We have three cat 4 climbs in the stage, expect to see Enrico Barbin trying to get in the morning move. None of these climbs are particularly hard, instead they act as a prelude to the finale of the stage.
After a fast descent the riders are faced with a little kicker. First of all there is 500m at 8.4%, then another 500m at 6%. There is a little false flat and a short descent into the final rise.
The fast descent ends with 2km to go, where the road turns sharply. This means that all the pace the riders carry on the descent will be lost and then they start the climb.
With two big corners in the final 500m, this is a technical finish and one that riders can easily misjudge. The rider leading into the final corner will have a big chance of winning.
Sunny, but there is a chance of rain in the afternoon. The wind is light and coming from the north-west. Not great news for the break.
Too Hard For Sprinters?
The categorised climbs are 2.6km at 4%, 7.5km at 3.8% and 5.8km at 4.4%. These climbs are not hard.
We cover 2206m of climbing in 153km. This is not too hard for some.
The last kicker is what will put many of the quick men off, but not all.
This just doesn’t feel like a day for the break. The length of the stage is wrong and we have lots of teams who will fancy their chances of taking this win.
Sam Bennett – what an effort from him today. The Irishman was climbing with the very best, but just ran out of steam in the final 500m. With this stage being easier, he’ll be full of confidence and looking to take that elusive first Giro win. The final ramp should be okay too, remember how he climbed the hill in the final stage of the Tour of Turkey. Bora will want to set a fast pace on the climbs and eliminate as many sprinters as possible.
Sacha Modolo – given his classics experience, I think Modolo will be confident of sprinting for the win. The Italian loves a tough day in the saddle and this is exactly that. Both his two sprints have looked fast and he’ll relish the chance of taking the win. Just like Bora, EF Drapac will look to put Viviani under pressure on the climbs.
Elia Viviani – I might regret these words, but I think the finish is too hard for him. He could survive the climbs, but I think he’ll lose ground on the final ramp.
Enrico Battaglin – another rider who impressed today, finishing in 3rd place. He will want a really hard day in the saddle, in order to put the sprinters under pressure. To win this stage, he needs to arrive without the recognised sprinters. This will be hard to do, especially as Jumbo need to save resources to look after George Bennett.
Tim Wellens – big win today, his second grand tour stage. To win again, Wellens will need to attack on the final ramp. Will he do this? Of course he will!
José Gonçalves – a series of unfortunate events stopped him from competing today, but this stage is another big chance for him. Do not underestimate his sprint, it is very fast.
Pello Bilbao – similar to Gonçalves, but his sprint is a little slower.
Davide Ballerini – certainly not a big favourite, but I do like the Androni man. Just 23 years old, I think he will have a big future. He punctured at a bad time today, tomorrow is another chance. Androni will have a number of cards to play in the finale, a win would be a sensational result for them.
Diego Ulissi – would have been very disappointed with his display today. To win this stage, Ulissi needs his team to make the stage very difficult and drop all the quick men. This will be hard to do.
Matej Mohoric – late attack option.
This isn’t too hard for some sprinters. I expect to see Bora and EF Drapac looking to control the stage, but they will come under severe pressure in the final 2km. When the attacks start to fly, they will need help controlling.
I think we will see a sprint finish and Sacha Modolo will be the man smiling.
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