By David Hunter
Male – Cles 160.9km
The final stage.
It might only be a short stage but this is really hard. It could be a very good day for the breakaway but the winner of this stage will have to be able to climb. We have a couple of cat 2 climbs, before we reach the critical point of the stage, the cat 1 climb of Forcella di Brez.
This is the hardest climb of the whole race, 6km at nearly 10%. It really is a leg breaker and will destroy the bunch. The stage is similar to last year, but this climb is new. Cresting with 35km to go means that it’s tough for any of the GC riders to make a big difference, but I’m sure they’ll want to try.
That is the problem for the breakaway, any GC battle will likely keep the lead down to a minimum and significantly reduces their chances of success. If a break is to stay away, it will need to contain a rider from Astana, one that isn’t a threat on GC. Last year it was Tiralongo who won the stage, they might look to Agnoli or Capecchi this year.
Team Sky might just get a man in the break. I think they would love to reward Gianni Moscon for all his hard work. The neo-pro has already had a fantastic season. He seems to love working for others and has really impressed in Coppi Bartali, Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and Strade Bianche. It was his 22nd birthday yesterday, this could be a late birthday present for him.
With Mikel Landa holding a small advantage over the Astana duo, Kangert and Fuglsang, I think that Astana will hold the race together. They sit 8 and 10 seconds down, so a stage win would be enough to take the GC, as long as Landa doesn’t finish on the podium. They worked it perfectly today, using their numerical advantage to finally break the brilliant Landa. If they can reduce the peloton to 15 riders, they will have a good chance of exposing the Spaniard. He will hope that some of his teammates survive the climb, I get the feeling he’s going to need them.
Lurking just a little back on GC is Firsanov and the AG2R duo, Bardet and Pozzovivo. The situation is problematic for Landa, with so many riders close on GC. This will not be an easy day for Sky, which could see them not letting any of their riders join the breakaway fun.
Looking to benefit from others holding the race together will be Mauro Finetto. If we get a small group of 25 riders, Finetto should be the fastest. I spoke to him before stage 2 and he was looking forward to the finish, but finished a disappointing 48th. Today was harder for him, but he was in good form, ending up in 13th position. If he can carry that climbing form into this stage, he has a good chance of taking the win. It does depend on others holding the race together. He should also be concerned if Eduard Prades makes the selection, he has a good sprint too.
Matteo Busato has continued his fine run of form in this race. He is sitting 12th on GC, 1:13 behind. He will be able to make the front selection and could benefit from a little freedom as we head for home. He’s far enough down on GC for Landa not to chase him. That would be a great reward for his progress in 2016, and would be his first pro win.
I know a lot of you will be wondering about Hugh Carthy, after he crashed today. I spoke to him earlier and he told me that he’s pretty banged up and worst for wear, but okay. Fortunately, he landed on his head! Vamos Hugh.
The GC battle will deny the breakaway and I see a small group going to the finish together. With Sky marking Astana, Firsanov and Ag2R, I think that an Italian will sneak away for the win. I really hope it’s my old friend Finetto, but I think that Busato will take this one.
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