By David Hunter
Monterotondo Marittimo – Montalto di Castro 204km
After a very demanding second stage, this is a quieter day for the bunch.
As it’s Tirreno, even the flat stages have their challenges. This stage has a few difficult moments for the sprinters, the first being a 20km climb at 2.6%! The next major climb is 9.8km at 3.4%. The second half of the stage doesn’t contain any serious climbs but can be described as grippy.
The little kick at the end is bad news for the pure sprinters, but good news for the puncheurs. The bunch will carry some speed into the final kilometre, making the 4.4% section a little easier.
The run for home will be fast, with one sweeping corner before the final kilometre. The uphill nature of the finish is more important than the technicality of it.
A beautiful sunny day, with some wind coming from the north. The weather should not have an impact on the stage.
Fernando Gaviria – the Colombian sensation won a difficult stage here in 2016, it is similar to this finish. He packs so much power, it’s no wonder the other sprinters are scared of him. He starts the stage as the favourite and he has a team to help control the finale and put him into a great position. Expect to see Matteo Trentin as his final man.
Peter Sagan – looked like he went pop long before the finish today, but then he appeared to take 3rd. Not even illness can stop him! This sprint is very good for him, he loves an uphill drag. Again, his success will depend on how he recovers from his illness.
Greg Van Avermaet – now in the race lead, he’s sure to get in the mix with the sprinters. BMC have such a strong team here, they will put him in a good position and he has very good chance of finishing on the podium.
Mark Cavendish – has been sick recently, but is getting stronger everyday. There are only two real sprint opportunities for Cav, this is one of them. He has a very strong team to help him, something that is a huge boost. If he is fully recovered, he will be fighting it out for the win.
Edvald Boasson Hagen – if Cav isn’t ready, sprinting duties will go to the Norwegian champion. He looked good today, but it wasn’t to be for him. He’s another that will like the uphill drag to the line, but his role depends on Cavendish.
Francesco Gavazzi – the well travelled Italian is now in his second season with Androni. The team managed to get him back to near his best in 2016 and I hope to see a continuation of that progression in 2017. He is a fast rider and still has a lot to prove at this level, but his performance today was a step in the right direction. A dark horse for the podium.
Daniele Bennati – the Italian is now at Movistar, mainly to help protect their team leaders, but he might just get some freedom in this stage. You can’t really call him a sprinter anymore, but he does impress when the road kicks up. He could certainly surprise the other riders.
JJ Lobato – after a good start to the season in Dubai, he had to quit Abu Dhabi due to sickness. That illness has long past and he will be looking forward to this stage. Lobato really is quite a unique sprinter, he can dance up steep hills as if they weren’t there! Jumbo seems to be a nice fit for him and a good result here would give him a welcome confidence boost.
Marko Kump – I really hope that UAE give him the nod and not Modolo. The Slovenian already has a number of good results this season, I was particularly impressed with his 5th place in the Ministry of Tourism stage in Oman. He can climb well and sprint fast! I think he represents a more realistic option than Modolo, a rider who has disappointed this season.
Uphill sprint = Fernando Gaviria.
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