By David Hunter
Treviso – San Martino Di Castrozza 151.7km
The battle for pink continues.
Considering the stages we’ve had in previous days; this looks rather easy. The vast majority of domestiques will be in the peloton at the foot of the climb, don’t expect any moves from distance. The final climb is a long one, 11.8km at 6.1%, but it only really gets hard as we approach the top. This is an easy day, but has a sting in the tail.
Long and steady. No crazy ramps, this is a climb with a consistent gradient and one where riders can settle into a nice tempo. As we get closer to the top, we do have gradients of 9%, but they don’t last for long, but coming at the end of a grand tour the climb will be harder than you think.
Probably a tiny bit of rain and a light headwind on the climb.
Movistar won’t chase, there is no way they’ll risk setting a rival up to take the ten second bonus on the line.
Will Bahrain chase for Nibali? Will Jumbo-Visma chase for Roglič? Will Astana chase for López? This edition of the Giro has been brilliant for breakaway riders, but this stage is one which should be easy to control. Our first climb comes after 16km and it’s only 5km at 5%. After that it’s relatively flat until the cat 3 climb that comes at kilometre 61. I don’t think it’s hard enough to see a large group disappear off the front, never to be seen again. If a team wants to, they can ensure a small break goes on the flat and we get a GC showdown for the stage.
Mikel Landa – the Basque climber wants to finish on the podium, but any freedom will depend on how Carapaz is feeling. If Ricky is feeling good, Landa will get the opportunity to attack on the climb and see if he can put some time into Roglič and Nibali. If Carapaz feels he needs Landa’s help to pace the climb, he’ll have to stay with the pink jersey. Landa in the 3rd week of a grand tour is a different beast, a rider not many can keep up with. It would be good to see Movistar chase the break, that would send out a huge message to their rivals.
Richard Carapaz – it’s highly unlikely he’ll win the stage; he simply needs to follow wheels and conserve as much energy as he can. However, if he senses weakness in Nibali, he has to strike and put a sword through his chest!
Vincenzo Nibali – dropped crucial seconds on Wednesday, the first sign of weakness in the race. That finish wasn’t ideal for him, but it was still a surprise to see him unable to follow the move of Carapaz. With just two mountain stages left, Nibali needs time on the Ecuadorian, he’ll be praying for good legs. The final climb is one that should suit the shark, but can he distance Carapaz? Even just a small gap will get him worrying about the big stage on Saturday.
Primož Roglič – can he turn it around? No.
Miguel Ángel López – has shown weakness in the last two mountain stages, but still performed well, I’m not sure what to think of him just now. Astana still have a ridiculously strong team, but can the Colombian finish it off? Still a long way down on GC, he’ll hope that no one will follow him when he attacks. Given that all riders will still want to win a stage, there won’t be any gifts, he’ll have to earn the win.
Hugh Carthy – have we all fallen in love with Hugh this week? Just 24 years old, he’s riding with a maturity beyond his years. He’ll be up there in the finale of this race, looking to see if he can win the stage and move closer to the top 10 on GC. He certainly has the legs to take a famous win.
Giulio Ciccone – breakaway hopeful number 1.
Fausto Masnada – breakaway hopeful number 2.
Mikel Nieve – breakaway hopeful number 3.
GC day, at least that’s what we all hope for. When the big guns start swinging, Mikel Landa will be the rider who emerges with the win. I don’t see Nibali taking any time from Carapaz.
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