By David Hunter
Giovinazzo > Vieste 200km
Another interesting day ahead.
A full stage that hugs the beautiful coastline. The opening 100km will be boring, but then it gets very interesting.
Sunny and hardly any wind.
The first climb is the cat 2 ascent of Monte Sant’Angelo, which is 9.2km at 6.3%. This will be used to burn the legs of a few fast men, but it shouldn’t be raced hard enough to drop anyone.
The descent is technical, thankfully the roads will be dry.
The Chiesiola climb has to be done on two occasions, with 25km and 10km to go. 900m at 9.3% is tough, and the road is narrow and rugged. This should make it harder than the final climb the bunch did on Thursday, but only if it’s raced. Is it too hard for Démare? It turns out I’m not the best one to judge that!
Once the climb has been crested the road remains narrow and horrible for another kilometre, before joining a much nicer main road with 9km remaining. Attackers can use this to their advantage as the chase will only be organised when the bunch move onto the better road. I really hope we see riders being more aggressive than they were on Thursday, otherwise Démare will win.
The climb is proper tough, it might even tease out a GC attack, the Shark is looking frisky!
The start of the race should be easy to control. I expect a small break with the usual suspects.
There’s a short rise in the road with 3km to go, but it’s nothing to worry about. Inside the final 2km the road loops around before the sprint finish just beside the beach.
Arnaud Démare – three wins since Tuesday, what a run! This is another stage that suits him, but FDJ will have to take quite a lot of responsibility for controlling the stage. The final climb is tough, but if he starts it at the front he should have enough sliding room to stay close to the bunch. With 10km to the finish, he has time to make it back into a good position and sprint for the win. It’ll be up to the other teams to disrupt this plan.
Peter Sagan – no doubt, he’ll get Fabbro on the front on the climb in the hope of dropping the sprinters. He’s still without a win, but he isn’t far off. I’m not sure we’ll see him attacking on the climb, so he needs a very fast pace to drop Démare and deter late attacks. This won’t be easy, even for Fabbro.
Michael Matthews – will cope with the climb, but can he win the sprint? There always seems to be someone faster than him at the finish, but he is improving.
Diego Ulissi – he cannot wait for the sprint; he must attack on the climb. As the chase will be tricky to organise, I expect to see the Italian giving it a go. The problem could be if he takes anyone with him. Ulissi isn’t always very good at working with others, I think he’s a control freak! The climb is very good for him, but he does need a good position at the bottom. Ulissi at the Giro is a different beast!
Jhonatan Narváez – see above, he cannot wait for the sprint. Narváez was put in a brilliant position on Thursday, but he didn’t attack. I’m not sure if that was because he didn’t want to, or he couldn’t. He has no option in this stage, he must attack.
Mikkel Frølich Honoré – my big Danish pal has seriously impressed me this week. He was brilliant on stage 2, finishing third, and he was visible on Thursday during the final climb. Despite doing some work, he still had enough to finish seventh in the sprint. His freedom will depend on Almeida, but QuickStep should have riders to protect Almeida and allow Honoré to attack.
Please can someone attack on the climb? I’m going to go with a Diego Ulissi win.
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