By David Hunter
Praia A Mare – Montevergine Di Mercogliano 209km
This is a stage which will interest a number of riders.
We have a very easy day in the saddle, which will only start to get difficult with 30km to go. Before the categorised climb, the riders tackle 6.3km at 3.4%, before running slightly downhill to the big climb of the day.
17.1km at 5%, this is an interesting way to finish a stage. As you can see, the climb is very consistent and doesn’t contain many sections that will trouble the climbers.
The climb might not be the steepest, but it contains 18 harpin bends. This is great for attackers as they will quickly disappear from view. The final harpin comes with just 600m remaining.
It is unlikely, but not impossible. The climb is long enough to put riders into difficulty, especially if the whole climb is taken at pace. Looking at the teams, Astana seem the most likely to try something. They have the strength in depth required to smash up the climb and put some GC riders into difficulty. It is a day where one of the main contenders could see their pink jersey challenge end in despair.
Sunny, with a light wind coming from the south. That means a tailwind for the majority of the stage.
Despite the easy looking profile, this could be a good day for the morning move. The final climb is difficult for any team to hold together for their team leader, that means not many teams will be keen to work all day. Most teams will have the same tactic, get a man in the break. That will lead to a difficult opening to the race, with plenty of attacks. The size and composition of the break will determine whether it survives or not.
The Pink Jersey
This is a day where we could see the race lead change hands. Mitchelton-Scott have a brilliant team, but they might not want the pressure of having the pink jersey for too long. With a number of riders still within reach, there is a real chance of the break surviving and a lucky rider taking the pink jersey. It all depends on the tactics of the Aussies.
Tim Wellens – sitting 6 minutes behind Yates, we could well see Wellens join the morning move. He already has a stage win, but he’ll want more. Staying in the bunch will be a little dangerous, as the final climb will be hard to control. Wellens has the engine required to join the morning leak, but he could well find himself a marked man. It won’t be easy for him to make the move.
Diego Ulissi – a perfect finish for him. Too hard for a number of riders, Ulissi will have a real option in the final kilometres. He was a little disappointing in recent stages, but this finish is better for him. UAE don’t have the strongest team, they’ll need some help controlling the closing kilometres.
Valerio Conti – was very unlucky on Tuesday, it was a good attack. Conti clearly has great legs just now, but he rides for the same team as Ulissi. I think we’ll see him used to police any moves and he’ll be given a chance if the opportunity presents itself.
Simon Yates – given his current form, he cannot be discounted. Mitchelton-Scott look very strong, they do have the ability to hold the race together and allow Yates the chance to sprint for glory. One potential problem is that they won’t be overly keen on allowing GC rivals the chance of taking any bonus seconds.
Luis Leon Sanchez – did a huge pull on Etna, I was very impressed. Astana will be keen on taking an early stage win and it will be difficult for Lopez to take this stage. That should allow some of their squad a little freedom, with Sanchez and Bilbao looking their best options.
Max Schachmann – I think we’ve all been impressed by the young German. He has been busy in the sprint train, but also brilliant in the hills. Despite being held up by crashes, he still managed to finish with the main group in stage 4 and 4th the next day. If the break isn’t successfully, he’ll have a big say in the outcome of the stage.
José Gonçalves – another rider in great form. The climb won’t scare him and he has a very fast sprint. The Katusha man has 7 pro wins, but hasn’t won at this level. His team have been riding well for him, something that will give him confidence.
Giovanni Visconti – breakaway hope number 1.
Tony Martin – breakaway hope number 2.
Jarlinson Pantano – breakaway hope number 3.
Gianluca Brambilla – breakaway hope number 4.
Astana to have some fun! Given the riders at their disposal, I think we’ll see them dominate the stage and Luis Leon Sanchez will take his first Giro win.
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