By David Hunter
Tirano – Lugano 134km
In such a mountain heavy week, this stage is a dream for the peloton. It’s only 134km and doesn’t feature much climbing. The cat 3 climb is 7.4km at 6.5% and comes at the start of the race. If the climb was near the end of the stage, it would cause some discomfort but at the start, this climb will be rolled over.
Just after the 2nd intermediate sprint, we have an unclassified climb of 2.8km at 6.5%. It crests with 25km remaining and does offer a chance to attack. The nature of the stages this week, means that this is the last stage for a “non-climber” to enjoy some success. If you want a stage win, you have to attack during this stage.
Once in Switzerland, we have a little lump, before a fast descent to the line.
Coming off the descent, the riders will be carrying a lot of speed and this is going to be a fastclimb does crest with just 3450m left in the stage, this does give a late attack a chance. As I’ve already mentioned, quite a few riders will be interested in attacking here, especially those who can descend well.
The final kilometre is one of the most technical we’ve had in the race. There are two, 90 degree turns, in 250m, and then a long bend before the finishing line. It’s one of those finishes where the sprinters won’t see the line, until the very end.
The two corners make a strong lead out, very important. Lotto are away home, so Trek and Lampre will be looking to dominate. Trek got it all wrong in Jesolo, hitting the front too early. It left Lampre with an easy job of dominating the final 2km. Trek have to learn from their mistakes and stop controlling too soon. Wait until 3km to go and arrive with 5 men, that has to be the plan. The final 3 of Lampre are very fast: Ferrari, Richeze and Modolo. To keep them off the front, you need to be going quick, timing is everything.
Nizzolo does look like the fastest sprinter, now in the race, but he needs a proper lead out. He can come past Modolo, but not if the sprint only lasts 150m. If Trek are serious about the red jersey, Nizzolo needs to be looked after.
This is a huge stage in the battle for red. It’s only between Nizzolo and Viviani, but Nizzolo does look faster. The Richie Porte saga will actually help Viviani. He should now be given more men to help in the sprint, only problem is these guys are not used to that role. It’s still going to be a struggle for Viviani. He’s been clever so far, usually positioning himself on the wheel of Nizzolo and hoping to pass him. Given his team, I don’t think he can do anymore. It must be frustrating for him, given how close he is to winning the jersey.
The road around Lake Lugano is nice and should give some lovely images. It isn’t that easy for the riders, as they have to tackle a number of tunnels, increasing the chances of crashes. Thankfully, the weather forecast is for sun, at last!
As well as being picturesque, the road into Lugano is difficult. The little lump on the profile, is actually 2km at 7%. It’s a long drag of a road and does allow the chance of a late break, but the road is very straight, so hard to escape from sight. It might just soften the legs of the sprinters and I would expect to see Giant-Alpecin, trying to lift the pace. The climb will be easy for Mezgec and could give him an advantage over some of the others.
With Greipel away, sprinters like Mezgec, Petacchi, Porsev and Hofland should fancy their chances at taking a win. The gap between themselves a rider like Nizzolo or Modolo, isn’t huge and well crafted sprint would be enough to take the stage. Porsev was very close to getting it right in Jesolo, but Paolini had a mechanical. If that hadn’t had happened, he would have finished on the podium. Watch out for the Russian here.
Nizzolo to take his first Giro win. It’s about time!
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