Giro d’Italia 2016 – Stage 18 Preview

By David Hunter

Muggio – Pinerolo 240km

What a pointlessly long stage!

giro 18a

It’s another day that Kruijswijk needs to survive.giro 18

This stage is all about the last 25km. It all starts with a brutal cat 2 climb.

pramartino

4.7km at 10.5% is a joy to behold. This is one of those climbs where having teammates is pointless. You either have the legs or you don’t! No doubt it will destroy the peloton.

What I love is the finish of the stage, as it barely even features on the profile.

giro 18.png b

It might only last half a kilometre, but climbing at around 14% will make it an amazing spectacle. The crowds will be cheering on the riders and Kruijswijk will have to be very vigilant. Once over the top, there is only 2km remaining. It looks like the rider to crest first, will go on to take the stage.

Tactics

Such a long stage will not be welcomed by the riders. The main teams will rest up and save as much energy for the finale, as their team leaders will need all the help they can get. The cat 2 climb is going to be very difficult, making the front group very small. The descent and section of flat before the final wall, will also be difficult to negotiate, as I would expect to see plenty of attacks.

Contenders

Steven Kruijswijk – incredibly strong just now. Normally, these short steep climbs would not suit him, but he is clearly the man to beat.

Alejandro Valaverde – got his stage win and this finish is wonderful for him. Given his record in Fleche, the final lump is ideal for a late attack and then solo home.

Esteban Chaves – really good on the steep stuff. This is a terrific opportunity to take time back on Kruijswijk, and hopefully put a little pressure on him. Can also descend and sprint well, so has a good chance of taking a win.

Diego Ulissi – was close to his 3rd win on Tuesday. He can succeed from the break or the main bunch. Will have to make a big decision about when he attacks, if he gets it wrong the stage will be over. He has a small chance of winning the points jersey, a win here is a must.

Ilnur Zakarin – the Russian was back to his best on Tuesday, although he was naive and worked too much in the closing couple of kilometres. He is without a stage win and would like to take one and move up the GC.

Weather

A bit cloudy, but only a small chance of rain.

Breakaway Hopes

With no significant challenges, the job of controlling the break is quite easy. However, the brutal finish means only a handful of riders can win the stage. That means few teams will want to chase the break, especially over 200km. It’s a good day to make the move.

Astana are usually the most important team in the race. With Nibali looking to be struggling, they will have to change tactics slightly. They still have multiple riders who have good legs: Fuglsang, Scarponi, Zeits and Kangert. I think Astana will look to get into the break and try to take a stage win. Anyone of the riders mentioned has the quality required.

If the riders sense that the break will survive, we could see a move with 30 riders. Most teams have quality climbers, so I would expect to see riders like Montaguti, Pirazzi, De Marchi, Formolo, Anton, Firsanov, Denifl, Wellens, Cunego, Preidler, Henao, Zoidl and Busato. It will be a difficult break to join.

Prediction Time

Can’t see past Diego Ulissi. He clearly continues to have wonderful legs and I see him joining the morning move with a few teammates to help.

David Hunter

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