Giro d’Italia 2019 – Stage 18 Preview

By David Hunter

Valdaora/Olang – Santa Maria Di Sala 222.1km

To sprint or not to sprint?

The peloton will be wondering whose idea it was to have a stage of 222km at the end of a grand tour. We only have two big sprinters left: Ackermann and Démare. The problem is that Démare has a fragile lead in the sprint’s competition, which means that FDJ won’t be helping to chase down the break, as their French sprinter already has a sprint win and they won’t be taking any risks.

Will Bora get any help from the other teams? ICA might chase for Cimolai and UAE for Consonni, but most riders will have tired legs and with two mountain stages still to come, the vast majority of the bunch will be happy to see a breakaway slip down the road.

If Bora want to chase, they’ll need to think carefully about their men. Both Majka and Formolo won’t be working, neither will Ackermann, Selig and Schwarzmann. That leaves them with just three men to work on the front, they’ll certainly need some help as the break will likely be fairly strong.

The beginning of the stage takes place on a standard two-lane road, which does give a couple of teams the chance of blocking it once a small break has been established. I would say this is the only chance of us getting a big sprint.

Weather

A sunny day with a light wind coming from the south.

Finale

A couple of big turns, but this is quite an easy finish for the bunch.

Contenders

Marco Frapporti – currently leads the breakaway classification and needs to make this move to try and claim the win. He leads Cima by 56km, expect to see both of these guys go for it. Neither has a real chance of winning, but that won’t stop them from trying!

Nico Denz – crashed early in the race and has struggled around Italy since that point. The German came very close to winning a stage in 2018 and he knows this is his last chance of taking a win this year.

Davide Villella – you need an Astana option in this list. The Italian provides the squad with a strong chance of winning.

Pieter Serry – no stage win for QuickStep, that is unheard of! Without an option to win from the sprint, expect to see their riders with freedom to attack. The Belgian has never won a race in his professional career, can he take a massive Giro win?

Luke Durbridge – release the Aussie engine? A grand tour veteran, he’ll have plenty left in the tank, as long as his team give him a free pass for the day.

Pascal Ackermann – approaching the end of his first grand tour, I wonder how much gas he’s got left in his legs. As he has hauled himself around the mountains, I fully expect Bora to try and stop a large break getting down the road. If they somehow manage to set up a sprint, I’m not sure the German will have enough to beat Démare.

Arnaud Démare – the Frenchman has lots of grand tour experience, he won’t be feeling fresh, but he’ll still have some speed left in his legs. Just 13 points ahead of Ackermann, he needs to beat the German if he wants to claim the jersey. He already has a stage win and his sprint train is still here, which will give him lots of confidence. If Bora manage to deliver the sprint, they won’t have many riders left to help in the closing kilometres, giving FDJ an advantage.

Prediction Time

A win for the breakaway and big Turbo Durbo to give the Aussies something to cheer about.

*Overall preview

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David Hunter

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