By David Hunter
Ivrea – Como 232.2km
The Giro’s attempt at Il Lombardia.
Only 9km shorter than the real thing, this is a monument race, slap bang in the middle of a grand tour. With teams already tired, this is going to be a very hard day in the saddle. The comparison to Lombardia is an easy one to make, but it’s not exactly true. The race basically has 165k of flat to begin with, which makes it easier than the monument. The other major difference is that organisers decided not to take the bunch up the wall of Sormano, which I understand, but don’t like. One final difference is that the Civiglo climb is the last in the race.
Madonna del Ghisallo is one of big climbs in European cycling and I love seeing it in the Giro. It’s 8.3km at 5.5%, but that includes 3km of flat road. The opening 4km of the climb rises at around 9% and it again gets difficult in the final kilometre.
9.2km at 6.5% is tough, but I’m still sad the wall won’t be climbed. As we have over 40km to the finish, I doubt we’ll see any big attacks at this point.
The Civiglo climb is 4.1km at 10.1% and it’s every bit as hard as it sounds. At this point in a grand tour, it will be hugely selective, and we’ll see some big gaps between the GC riders. Once over the top, there is just over 9km left in the day.
A descent that Vincenzo Nibali knows like the back of his hand. As we’ve seen in Lombardia, it is possible to create gaps going down this hill.
The final corner comes with 250m to go, but that won’t be an issue considering the difficulty of the stage.
It should be a nice day, but there is a small chance of a couple of showers.
What I’m about to say could well come back to bite me! This stage isn’t hard enough for the GC teams to have some fun. The Ghisallo and Sormano are tough climbs, but domestiques should be able to survive them, meaning we won’t see big moves at this point. In terms of the GC race, this is all about the Civiglo climb, where we will see lots of attacks. I don’t think it’s a day for any tactical mastery.
It also means the breakaway will have a good chance of success. Movistar won’t be interested in chasing it down, but another GC team might fancy the stage win and get to work on the flatlands. The battle for the break will be fierce as the riders will know it has a good chance of success. There is a 4km climb at the start of the race, where the climbers will hope the break escapes. If it doesn’t and goes on the flat, you’ll see if full of big engines.
Jay McCarthy – Bora have enjoyed a wonderful race, already taking three stage wins. The Aussie has been one of their unsung heroes, helping Ackermann in the sprints and Majka in the mountains. This is a stage where the team will be looking to make the morning break and McCarthy gives them a good option. The Civiglo climb would be right on his limit, but it depends who else is in the move. His fast finish is ideal if we get a reduced sprint.
Mikkel Frølich Honoré – the young QuickStep rider lives not too far from Como. He’ll be praying that his team allows him the chance to attack and make the morning break. Having friends and family at the finishing line is a big motivating factor for any rider.
Andrey Zeits – if we do get a big break, you can bet that Astana will want representation. Zeits is a tremendous domestique, a rider who can do just about anything. If he makes the morning move, the rest of the break will be a little worried.
Fausto Masnada – has been super active in the last few stages, looking to grab his second win of the race. He can sometimes suffer on the longer mountains, the climbs in this stage are much more his style. Androni have enjoyed a brilliant race, can they sniff out another win?
Thomas De Gendt – standard breakaway pick!
Vincenzo Nibali – has won two Lombardia titles, both occasions making his winning move on descents. He will fancy his chances of taking the win and reducing the gap to Roglič, but will his team commit to working all day?
Primož Roglič – another rider who’ll like the look of the finish. The Slovenian is one of the strongest riders on the planet on climbs around 10%, and he descends like a stone. Not only that, but he has the best sprint of the GC riders. The only worry is that he plays a tactical game with Nibali and the stage win passes them by.
I think this is a day for the breakaway. Making the move will be difficult and you’ll not only need good legs but also a large slice of luck. I think we’ll see Bora continue their winning streak and Jay McCarthy will get the win. Back in the GC fight, I don’t think we’ll see any gaps between Roglič and Nibali.
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