By David Hunter
Tortoreto Lido – Pesaro 239.6km
Another monster day in the saddle.
Almost a completely flat opening 140km of the stage, which is then followed by quite a lot of climbing in the final 100km. None of the hills are particularly difficult, but they will start to burn the legs after another long day in the saddle.
This is a day I’m sure a number of sprinters will have their eye on, but which of the teams will have the firepower to bring back the break?
Riders look away now! The heavens will open tomorrow, and a huge amount of rain will fall on the peloton. The wind is relatively strong and will be a tailwind for the majority of the day.
Just feast your eyes on the descent that leads into the final 3km. This is a typical Italian descent; narrow roads and a terrible road surface. It’s also going to be wet, which could lead to some crashes.
Once into town, we have a tight corner with 1km to go and another one with 250m remaining. If we have a big bunch, it’s going to be carnage.
We now have four top class sprinters in this race: Ackermann, Démare, Ewan and Viviani. If their teams decide to share the workload, we will see the break brought back, but will all the teams commit to the chase?
If we look at FDJ, most of their chasing would normally be done by Scotson and Ludvigsson, but we have a big TT on Sunday and both riders will be keen on saving energy and having a shot at a good performance. Maybe FDJ won’t be joining in the chase.
QuickStep have the power to do so, but Viviani isn’t the best at sprinting after a long day in the saddle.
Ackermann is currently the fastest in the race, but at such a young age, how will his legs react after 240km? As he’s already won two stages, Bora will be expected to do the majority of the pulling.
Lotto Soudal could also find themselves with a lot of work to do. Caleb Ewan is a rider who copes well with distance, but the team only have seven men left in the race and Campenaerts will not do any work ahead of the TT. As they need to save men for the lead out, it doesn’t leave them with a lot of resources to chase the move.
I guess I’m trying to say that the break has a good chance of success, especially with the amount of rain predicted. The final 25km might not look like much, but the road is constantly going up and down and it also twists and turns. This will be a very nervous time for the GC riders.
Pascal Ackermann – if we do get a sprint, he has to be the favourite. He can handle the small climbs and seems to perform well in the rain, but will it be a sprint?
Caleb Ewan – the little Aussie can handle the distance, and I expect Lotto Soudal to work hard trying to bring everything back together. He’s been close to a win this week, but just hasn’t quite managed it. With opportunities running out, the pressure is starting to build.
Elia Viviani – never seems to enjoy the rain. Add in his unreliability in long stages, I don’t see it being a day for the Italian champion.
Arnaud Démare – doesn’t mind tough conditions, and just like Ewan, he’s been close this week. FDJ will try and bring the break back and Démare will hope the climbs take a little off the top speed of his rivals. Has a solid chance of taking his first Giro win.
Conor Dunne – doesn’t mind a bit of rain, he is Irish after all! He’s started to become a little more active as the race develops, it could be a day in the break for the big man.
Marco Frapporti – the Androni rider loves a day in the break. He seems a good pick to get up the road.
Mirco Maestri – same as Frapporti, but rides for Bardiani!
Damiano Cima – if Androni and Bardiani get in the break, Nippo will be there too. Cima has already made a few moves, he’ll be sniffing out another chance tomorrow.
Jenthe Biermans – the Belgian loves the rain. The 23-year-old, sprinted to 8th in stage 5, but I’m hoping he tries for the morning break. After a torrid year, Katusha could do with some good news.
Belgian riders always seem to enjoy terrible conditions, so I’ll go with a surprise win for Jenthe Biermans. A long day in the saddle and lots of rain should mean the break stays away.
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