By David Hunter
Tirano – Canazei 219km
A good day for the break.
The climbers will be delighted to see that the road rises immediately. This is great news for climbers that want to make the morning break. A short descent is followed by another climb and the stage finishes with a long grind up to the finishing town.
The opening climb is 12.3km at 6.3%. After an easy opening 1.5km, the road rarely drops below 7%. This is a tough way to start any stage.
Next on the menu is 11km at 5.7%. This is an easier climb than the first and gives the break a wonderful chance of establishing a commanding lead.
This is the little cat 3 kicker, before the road rises gently to the finishing town. The climb is 5.95km at 6.8%.
Once over this there is a long way still to go and mostly uphill. We have an uncategorised climb, 5.2km at 3.8%, that crests with around 40km to go, but the road continues to rise between 1% and 2%. It is a horrible looking finish to the stage.
No difficulties for the riders, with an easy last 5km.
There is a risk of rain throughout the stage, but it shouldn’t be too bad for the riders.
An excellent day for the breakaway riders. The second half of the stage isn’t hard enough to split the GC riders, making it unlikely a GC team will try and control affairs. Given the hard stage today and more to come this week, the GC teams will be delighted with an easy day. There is a chance of some small splits in the closing kilometres, but not enough for a team to take control of this day.
The climb at the start of the stage also reduces the number of riders who can make the move. To escape, you need to be a good climber.
There is also the possibility of a rider sitting just outside the top 10 making the move. We regularly see this tactic in a grand tour, but it can sometimes doom the break as teams look to protect their top 10 status.
Pierre Rolland – tried and failed today, will go again tomorrow. At this stage of a grand tour, the riders that go for the break remind me of the usual suspects! Rolland clearly has good form and this is another opportunity for him. The gradual drag to the line is much better for him than a flat finish.
LL Sanchez – was again on great form today. Now sitting high in the KOM competition, he might fancy going in the move to scoop up more points. The KOM jersey will be second in his mind, the Spaniard wants a stage win. He has a fast sprint, quicker than most other climbers.
Omar Fraile – has now fallen behind in the fight for the KOM jersey, but he came here to win stages and already has one. This is another stage that really suits Fraile, he’s brilliant on medium mountains, not the alpine climbs of today. If he makes the break, he has a good chance of taking another win.
Rui Costa – makes up the fantastic four! He and the riders above have been in many breaks, but only Fraile has a win. The former world champion will be looking to capitalise on his good form and take a win in his first ever Giro. A good climber and a fast sprint, perfect for this stage.
Maxime Monfort – a rider sitting close to the top 10 will try and make this move. Monfort is one of those very reliable riders that always seems to place high, without threatening the podium. Including the 2011 Vuelta, he has only finished outside of the top 16 in 1 out of his last 10 grand tours. His favourite position is usually between 14th and 16th, but hopefully he can eventually get the stage win his perseverance deserves.
Another day for the break and from the usual suspects, I’ll pick Pierre Roland as my winner.
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