By David Hunter
L’Aquila – Vasto 185km
Another day with many possibilities.
Just like today, we have a big cat 2 climb that is likely to scare off the sprinters and their teams from chasing the morning break.
7.5km at 6.2% might sound like the sprinters can survive, but there is a 3km section at 9%, no way the quick men are getting over this one, unless the pace is very slow.
Just 10km from the finish, the bunch climb this unclassified bump in the road. 1.5km at 7% is tough, especially as the final 300m is almost at 9%. After this section that road is undulating, before hitting a very fast descent with 4km to go. This ends with a tight turn coming with 2km to go and then it’s all about the finish.
The stage ends with 1.2km at 6.8%, it looks a great finish, but is it one for the puncheurs or the GC riders?
Sunnier than it has been, with the wind coming from the east. That means a headwind for the majority of the day, which isn’t great news for the breakaway.
Today was interesting. A large group escaped, with a couple of riders who were high on GC. Jumbo-Visma decided to keep them relatively close, but when no one wanted to help, they promptly gave away the pink jersey. Now that UAE are in control, they’ll want to keep it for as long as possible. This means the morning break will be chased down, if it contains a threat to their race lead.
It seems quite likely to me that the break won’t survive and we”ll get an uphill sprint finish. The cat 2 climb is tough enough for the sprinters not to bother trying to reach the end, this is a chance for those teams with a punchy finisher.
The penultimate climb is hard enough for some riders to attack, but there should be enough domestiques left to chase the moves down, but watch out for the descent. It’s not technical, but it will be incredibly fast. The GC riders will be keen on being well placed for the tight corner, which marks the start of the climb, that will make the downhill really quick.
Once we hit the climb, we’ll have to see who has the legs to distance the others. With bonus seconds on offer, lots of riders will be keen on this one. We shall have to see how hard the climb is and which type of rider will be victorious.
Simon Yates – this is a stage that should excite the Brit. He does well on long climbs, but he also has the kick required to win these shorter efforts. Cast your mind back to last year, the day Wellens won, Yates finished in 4th place. Looking at the riders at the race this year, Yates will be very confident of doing better and challenging for the win. Of course, he would like it to be a little steeper, but he’ll still hope to take ten bonus seconds. He’ll also be keen on testing Roglič, especially after his crash today.
Primož Roglič – crashed and got a red bum today! It didn’t look too serious, which was good news for the Slovenian. Given his recent sprint wins, he has to start this stage as one of the men to beat. Now free of the pink jersey, his team get to save energy during the stage and ensure good position for the final climb. Once this happens, it will be over to him to see if he can take another stage win.
Richard Carapaz – can lightning strike twice? After taking a wonderful win on Tuesday, we shall have to see if he can do it again. Clearly a fine rider, with a strong punch, the finish is well suited to him but I feel others are faster.
Diego Ulissi – he’ll still be kicking himself after missing out to Carapaz, but he gets a chance to make up for that mistake. UAE will have to work on the front, now they have the pink jersey, but Ulissi will still get a chance to try and take the stage. He has the kick required to win, but he can’t hesitate.
Davide Formolo – an outside chance of winning. The Italian has made some serious progress in 2019 and should be confident of challenging in this type of stage. If he waits until the sprint, he has a chance of making the podium, but I hope he attacks from a little further out. As Bora also have Majka high on GC, it would be a good tactic to make someone try to chase.
Enrico Battaglin – if this was last year, he’d be the big favourite for this stage. Since moving to Katusha, the Italian has struggled to hit any sort of form. He hasn’t looked near his old level, but all of that can change in a moment, this is cycling after all. On paper, this is a perfect finish for him, but can he eventually find good legs?
Francesco Gavazzi – can Androni win consecutive stages? Gavazzi will like this finish, but winning will be very difficult.
Gianluca Brambilla – breakaway option, number 1.
Nate Brown – breakaway option, number 2.
Marco Frapporti – breakaway option, number 3.
Just not quite hard enough for the GC men to win, this should be one for the puncheurs. That means a straight fight between Ulissi and Battaglin, but who’ll take the glory? Given the form of Battaglin, this should be a win for Diego Ulissi.
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