By David Hunter
Noale – Bibione 182km
The last sprint for some of the bunch.
It’s safe to say that Greipel and Ewan will be leaving the Giro after this stage. It represents one more chance at a stage win.
A very easy finish, no need to discuss tactics.
2 laps of the circuit will have it’s challenges. There are lots of ninety degree turns, making it a challenging finish to the stage. There are three such corners, between 3km and just after 2km to go. This section of the circuit is very important, teams will want to move to the front with 4km to go. That is an awfully long time to control the bunch, but being out in front is more important than numbers in this finish.
Etixx – the Belgians still possess a very good train, but it has been diminished. Trentin is now their sprinter, meaning his place in the train lies vacant. Bob Jungels is in the pink jersey, he will not take part in the sprint train either. That leaves Serry, Wisniowski and Sabatini. Etixx will not try and control the last 10km, they will lie in reserve and hope to pounce inside the final 3km.
Lotto – they have tinkered with their positions, but will probably go Ligthart, Hansen, Bak, De Bie and Roelandts. This has been very effective and they’ve managed to control the closing 5km of a couple of stages. Greipel is packing huge power and this marks his final chance to claim another grand tour stage. He will go all in to try and take it.
Lampre – Not much of a train, but Ferrari is a wonderful rider. They will have one more in front of him, but Ferrari knows exactly when to hit the front. The corners are great news for him and Modolo, masters of the dive bomb.
Trek – they are missing Van Poppel, the last man for Nizzolo. That is really bad news, as he now only has Coledan and Alafaci. No way Trek can hit the front with that train, they need to pick the right wheel to follow.
IAM – Never got it right with Pelucchi, but Leigh Howard has a chance. With Brandle, Kluge and Haussler they do possess quality and some fast legs. Do they really believe in Howard? Will the riders turn themselves inside out for him?
FDJ – have a sprint train to rival Lotto. They have Fischer, Sarreau, Konovalovas and Delage. Demare has been good enough to finish 2nd on two occasions, he’ll be badly wanting to claim his first grand tour success. Does he think he can beat Greipel?
Orica – Mezgec crashed today, so Ewan will just have Bewley. That means he will be put onto a good wheel and left to fight for himself. It could work, Ewan is very much like a young Cavendish in that regard.
The trains of Jumbo, Katusha, Giant, MTN and Bardiani are not really worth much of a mention. Their sprinters could still do well, but they don’t have the same resources as the other teams.
There is a strong chance of rain for the finish. Terrible news for riders like Greipel, but also the GC favourites. Wet roads would make this circuit very tricky and crashes are likely. As we all know, Greipel does not perform well when we have wet corners.
Lotto will control the closing 4km, but rain will be terrible news for them. That final corner, with 300m to go, is crying out for a late surge. Masters of this are Lampre, with Ferrari and Modolo. He’s reached 3rd place on two occasions, but a wet day is a Modolo day!
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