By David Hunter
Stage 1 Recap
BMC stole the show with an amazing performance, putting Daniel Oss into the overall lead. Team NetApp – Endura were a brilliant 2nd, with my pick, Movistar, a disappointing 4th.
Stage 2 Limone Sul Garda – San Giacomo di Brentonico 164.5km
We head to the mountains!
Yet again the organisers of the race have found an unknown climb. I’ve asked many riders and DSs and all say that this is a new one for them. Hats off to the organisers for doing this.
The stage is all set up for the big climb at the end. As it’s only stage 2 and not much difference on GC, the break has no chance. With 10 seconds bonus it means that the serious riders on GC will want to win the stage. Here are the climbs:-
The first 2 climbs are nothing to worry about, this stage is all about the final climb. Officially it is 15km at an average of 6.6%. The opening 8.5km of the climb are the same as stage 18 of the 2013 Giro, where Vincenzo Nibali blew away the rest of the field. After that the riders have a downhill section, before hitting the hardest part of the climb. Arriving at pace, the sudden change in gradient will be too much for a lot of riders and the peloton should be blown to pieces.
The next 4.5km is at an average of 9.4% and this is where we should see the action. This is a proper Alpine climb and it slims down potential winners.
The best climbers in the race are Pozzovivo, Evans, Niemiec, Scarponi, Aru, Basso, Anton, Capecchi, Pirazzi and Bongiorno.
A lot of these riders have just returned from altitude training and are a bit worried about their form. It will be the responsibility of BMC to control the race but they don’t have a strong team. Lampre-Merida have a number of strong climbers and will look to either control the race or attack and leave Evans with no helpers. That being said, Cadel Evans is the only rider with a real Alpine pedigree. He has won many stages like this and performed well in the Queen stage of Pais Vasco. This climb should suit an on-form Cadel.
I have tipped Niemiec for overall victory and tomorrow should be his time to shine. He was looking good in Catalunya, finishing 10th on stage 3, before a virus took him out of the race. He was 6th in the Giro last year and he should be a major player in the stage.
Dominico Pozzovivo is favourite for the stage, although, the pint-sized Italian is good in this terrain, but not massively better than the other riders mentioned. He was 10th in the 2013 Giro, compared to the 6th of Niemiec and the 3rd of Evans.
I’m unsure about Scarponi and the others. Of course, they could do well and both Scarponi and Basso are suited to these climbs but their recent results don’t point to a victory.
Readers will know of my admiration of Bongiorno and tomorrow is a big test for him. His team have tried to help him become better at these climbs and his recent altitude camp was focused on this type of climb. I would love to see him claim his 1st pro win.
This stage is very difficult to call, but I will stick with my overall prediction and go for Niemiec.
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