By David Hunter
Pedara – Messina 159km
The shark returns to Messina.
Another short stage along the coast awaits the peloton. We have a couple of challenges in the opening 60km, but then an easy run for home. The cat 4 climb is 9km at 3.5%, nothing to worry the sprinters. The next climb is unclassified, with gradients struggling to get over 3%.
After a long descent, the TV sprint is actually at the top of a little climb, the organisers really do have a sense of humour. Once at the top, we have 61km remaining. It’s hard to see anything else apart from a big sprint.
This is interesting. There is a 500m stretch at 4.6%, ending with just under 2km remaining. The road then dives down, before a flat run for home. The run into the little kicker is downhill, thus negating much of the gradient. The finish should be fast!
The riders complete one lap of this circuit to finish off the stage. It is a typical city centre finish with lots of tight corners and a big u-turn. Luckily, the final 1.5km is very straight. This is a technical finish.
Again, the sun is going to shine on the peloton. The wind will reach around 20km/h, but it will be coming from the south. We shouldn’t see any splits, but it will make the stage very fast.
Caleb Ewan – the multiple criterium champion of Australia will love this finish. Ewan is a master of a technical circuit and doesn’t usually need a lead out to help. He is very fast out of corners and never seems to lose his position, even when others are trying to barge him. With Mezgec and Edmondson, he does have two helpers for the closing straight. After some bad luck earlier in the race, he’ll be keen to take his first Giro win.
Andre Greipel – not a huge fan of a finish like this, but the German will be delighted that the tight corners finish with 4km to go. It will give him plenty of time to find his teammates and get back to the front. This is crucial and takes some pressure off of his shoulders, as he usually loses positions during technical sections. The Gorilla has a hugely impressive sprint, if he is put in the right position, he will be hard to beat. He would like to start his sprint in front of Ewan, the little man offers no drafting whatsoever.
Fernando Gaviria – what a difference a win makes! After a disappointing start to the race, Gaviria walked away with a win and pink jersey on Sunday. No doubt he’ll now be full of confidence and expecting to challenge for the win. The presence of Richeze will be vital, Gaviria needs to be put in the best possible position with 200m to go, if he is to challenge.
Giacomo Nizzolo – despite his lack of racing, the Italian is now starting to pick up some good form. Trek have the men required to put him into a strong position, especially if Stuyven is on lead out duties. The Italian is also starting to collect points, I’m sure he’s hopeful of retaining his sprint jersey.
Sacha Modolo – this is a perfect finish for the UAE boys. They certainly had the most helpers in the opening stage, but will be a little concerned that Modolo had cramps on Saturday. One problem they will have is a lack of corners inside the final 1km, they would prefer some tight bends to dive-bomb their rivals.
This circuit is perfect for a little Aussie. I think Caleb Ewan will put his bad luck behind him and take his first Giro win.
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