By David Hunter
Camaiore – Pomarance 229km
I love Tirreno. It’s the second stage and the riders are already faced with 229km!
An easy open 120km is followed by a demanding final 110km. This is a very tough finish to the stage.
The climb to Volterra begins at 170km and is 9.85km at 4.5%. Nothing too difficult, this is just the starter! Next is the climb to Montecantini, 4.8km at 5%. This climb ends with 22km remaining. Next up is the climb to the finish in Pomarance.
The climb to the line is around 8km long, rising at around 3.8%. The opening to the climb is a wall of 9.2% for 500m. A flat kilometre follows before 500m at 7.2%, 500m at 4.4%, 500m at 8%, 500m at 4.8% and 1km at 3%. We then have 2km of false flat, before the road kicks up to the finishing line. The last 200m is the hardest, rising at over 6%. This is a little devil of a finish. I love it!
Looks like a nice day for the bunch. This is not Paris-Nice!
Peter Sagan – was sick and had to abandon Strade, that was Saturday and he didn’t look fully recovered today. At 229km, it’s a very long stage for a rider recovering from illness. This looks too much, even for the great man himself!
Greg Van Avermaet – if Sagan isn’t competitive, GVA starts the stage as the big favourite. BMC will have plenty of riders capable of holding the race together, looking to set up the sprint. The Olympic champion has a big chance of success. Even if he doesn’t win the stage, he looks certain to move into the race lead.
Edvald Boasson Hagen – he ticks a lot of boxes in this stage. Arguably, he can sprint as fast as Sagan. Dimension Data have stated the season very well and EBH will back himself in this stage. He can produce a very fast sprint, especially after a tough stage.
Fernando Gaviria – you might be surprised to see him mentioned, but the kid can climb! If he makes it to the finish, he’ll win. He is that good. It’s up to the other teams to try and drop him, or take a lot of power out of his sprint.
Tiesj Benoot – could this be his first pro win? I hope so! There will be plenty of riders looking to attack in the closing kilometres, I hope he goes with 1km to go and doesn’t wait for the sprint. He really deserves a win.
Michal Kwiatkowski – took a hugely impressive win in Strade and comes here full of confidence. I’m sure I wasn’t the only person delighted to see the former world champion back to his best. Like the riders already mentioned, he has a very fast finish, when the road is going up. Sky have the strength to hold the race together, but I’m not sure their man can beat the speed of Sagan and GVA. Maybe he attacks early?
Fabio Felline – the Italian has already shown his form this season. His climbing improves every year and this hill is easy for him. He will want his Trek teammates to make a very fast pace and try to remove some of his rivals. No way Felline gets dropped on this climb. He’s another rider a massive chance of taking the win. Will he wait for the sprint? I think he might just attack in the closing stages.
Soren Kragh Andersen – took a surprise win in the Tour of Oman, he is fast and can climb well. Sunweb will want to ensure that Tom Dumoulin is well protected, but Andersen should have the freedom to chase his own result. Unlike his last win, this one would not be a surprise!
Tim Wellens – so strong just now. I’ll be waiting for an attack with 3km to go.
Jan Bakelants – should be his style of finish, but he doesn’t win much.
Mattia Cattaneo – hugely impressive recent form by the former winner of the baby Giro. Now at Androni, I’m delighted to see him starting to fulfil his potential.
Zdenek Stybar – so strong in Strade, just not strong enough. Will have to attack and not wait for the sprint. Quick-Step are blessed with a few options.
Without a fully fit Sagan, this has to be a day for Greg Van Avermaet. He can win from a sprint, or a small group that gets off the front. I’m not sure exactly how the stage will develop, but I think that Van Avermaet will win.
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