By David Hunter
Smarano – Trento 192.5km
The race ends with, arguably, the hardest stage of the week. There is no easy finish in Trento!
With 3759m of climbing, this is a monster day in the saddle.
We have two huge categorised climbs, but also three uncategorised monsters too.
Andalo – 8.9km at 5.5%.
Passo Durone – 6km at 8.2%.
Passo Sant’Udalrico – 7.1km at 6.2%.
Monte Bondone – 19km at 6%.
Novaline – 2.1km at 9.1%.
What a five course menu that is! Climbing skills will obviously be important, but so will descending skills as the riders face a 20km downhill run from the Bondone. This descent does look a little on the crazy side. Hold onto your hats!
After today’s crazy stage, we should be in for another treat. It’s good to see the other riders trying to break the Sky stranglehold, but the Landa/Thomas duo simply look too strong. Saying that, all it takes is one huge attack on the final climb to Novaline. The GC battle is not over until the very end of the stage.
Again, the hopes of the break rely upon it’s composition. There must be multiple riders from the world tour teams, if it’s to have any chance. Pirazzi might try and take the KOM jersey from Foliforov, but we’ll have to wait and see. There is a lot of climbing for a 6 man Sky team to control. The right break has a good chance.
A beautiful day for cycling.
Thibaut Pinot – the Frenchman was very close to a stage win today, but he did get some bonus seconds. Now sitting just 13 seconds behind Thomas, he knows he has a great chance of winning this race. I can’t wait to see them go toe to toe on the climbs, but he must be worried about Landa.
Geraint Thomas – he hasn’t put a foot wrong this week. He will be supported by Landa, which makes him almost impossible to beat! He already has one stage win and must start as the favourite to win this stage. He doesn’t need to win the stage, if he and Pinot arrive together, he might just settle for second. Alternatively, the team might look to reward Landa for his brilliant work this week.
Domenico Pozzovivo – yet again, his lack of a sprint makes it very hard for him to win the stage. He will hope to stay with the best, something that will give him confidence going into the Giro.
Cannondale – the green machine have had a very promising week. They have the white jersey on the shoulders of Hugh Carthy, plus the bonus of a firing Pierre Rolland. Personally, I really hope we see a big day from Hugh Carthy. I sense an opportunity to win the stage.
Androni – another team with three options: Cattaneo, Torres and Bernal. Given the huge amount of climbing, I think this stage suits Bernal the most. The Colombian is a huge talent and if rumours are to believed, he has already signed for Movistar for next year. Such a talented rider, he will hope to finish the stage in the top 5.
Astana – one of my moles tells me they are planning a crazy day of attacking. They must be getting ready for the Giro;) They certainly have the riders capable of creating some havoc and reducing Team Sky down to two, but those two look stronger than the rest.
Nate Brown – my breakaway pick. We’ve already seen him making some moves and looks a strong option for the break. I hear good things about the American.
Pinot v Thomas. I think they’ll arrive together and Pinot will take the stage win, with Thomas taking the GC.
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