By David Hunter
Ravenna – Modena 145.5km
An easy day for the peloton and a guaranteed sprint finish.
A small break will roll of the front, probably containing Fraporti and Cima. This will be easily controlled and we’ll get a big sprint finish in Modena.
It looks quite easy, but I get the feeling some riders will be lulled into a false sense of security. The roads are nice and wide as we approach the finishing city, but all of that changes inside the final 2km.
The first problem is the right-hand turn, just before 2km to go, this is tight. Once through, it’s not long until the peloton hit the cobbles, but these are just your standard city centre cobbles, not Paris-Roubaix style. The biggest problem is the road narrows at this point, which is bound to catch out some teams. Once under the flamme rouge, the road gets much wider, but given the speed of the bunch, riders will not be able to make up positions. Teams must be at the front of the bunch with 3km to go, if they want to guarantee a chance to sprint for glory.
Dry! The peloton will be delighted to see that it won’t rain, and it’ll actually feel quite warm.
Pascal Ackermann – two wins, two 3rd places and a 4th place; the German has been very consistent in the Giro. There is no guarantees when you ride your first grand tour, you can bet Ackermann is delighted with the way he has responded to the challenge. You might think a rest day would have been good news for him, but I’m not so sure. This will be a new experience for him, seeing how his body responds to rest after a demanding start to the race, he might find his legs a little blocked in this sprint. The relationship he has with Rüdi Selig has been one of the reasons he has done so well in the race, where Selig goes, Ackermann follows. To have total trust in your lead out man is hugely important, it really does help that they’re good friends off the bike too.
Caleb Ewan – with Lotto Soudal coming to the race with the objective of winning a sprint stage, a huge amount of pressure was put on Ewan’s shoulders. His win on Saturday was a huge moment for him and his team, you could see the relief/joy on his face at the finishing line. Lotto Soudal have a very good sprint train with them, they now have two opportunities to take another win before Ewan departs the race and starts to prepare for the Tour de France. This finish is perfect for a team with a long train, I have no doubts they’ll be at the head of the race in the closing kilometres. Ewan will now be riding with some extra confidence, a valuable commodity for a sprinter.
Elia Viviani – I just wonder if he has started to doubt himself yet? No doubt there have been some honest conversations between him and the team, especially as he doesn’t seem to trust the wheel of Sabatini, a mistake that cost him the win on Saturday. It looks like the Italian is missing the experience of Michael Mørkøv, but that is something he just needs to deal with. He is a rider who does like to come from a little deeper, but that tactic doesn’t work when the riders in front of you are sprinting just as fast. Viviani needs to go back to the drawing board and think carefully about his tactics for the finale of this stage. In Sénéchal and Sabatini, he has riders capable of getting him to the front, but he needs to trust them and not look to jump on another sprinter’s wheel.
Arnaud Démare – the longer the race goes on, the better the Frenchman will get. His win in the 2018 Tour de France didn’t come until stage 18, he is a sprinter who can endure a grand tour and still have fast legs towards the end. Now, we’re nowhere near the end, which means winning this stage will be hard, but not impossible. He’ll love the small section of cobbles and his lead out train is one of the best in the race. I can see Démare being at the front with 300m to go, but will he have the speed to respond to the other sprinters?
Giacomo Nizzolo – the Italian should really be challenging for the top 5 in this stage. With Gasparotto, Gibbons and Renshaw he has a strong sprint train, but two top 10s is not the results he would have been hoping for. Given his track record, he should be aiming for much better and I wouldn’t write him off just yet.
This is a tough one to predict. How will Ackermann respond to a rest day? Will Viviani be able to turn things around? Will Ewan be even faster now with a win under his belt? Can Démare’s experience shine through? I’ll go with confidence and a strong lead out train; another win for Caleb Ewan.
Remember I’ve now got a podcast too. Go and give it a listen
Follow us on @CiclismoInter
Join us on facebook: Ciclismo Internacional
Copyright © 2012-2019 Ciclismo Internacional. All Rights Reserved