By David Hunter
Rieti – Fermo 209km
One of the best stages you’ll see all year long.
This is one of the reasons that I think Tirreno is a special race, the organisers are creative and sometimes find these little jewels. Staying away from the big mountains, they have packed the final half of this stage full of little walls. I love it!
The first of the categorised climbs is Capo di Monte, it is 6.6km at 4.8%, quite tame considering what is to follow.
The riders first climb into Fermo after 168km, the second picture above. Almost 2.5km at 8.1% is very demanding and then we have almost 700m at 10% to finish it off.
Next up is Muro di Capodarco, which you can see above. It is 2.55km at 6%, but does feature an 18% ramp. Next is another climb to Fermo, this time it’s the climb to the finish(pictured below), but they turn off just before the finishing line.
Next up is another climb to Fermo, it’s back up the climb pictured above. After a short descent, we then have the final climb of the day. It really is a crazy final 40km, it will test most riders to the absolute limit.
The climb to the finish is very challenging. First the riders have to tackle 2km at 12%, featuring a maximum gradient of 22%. False flat follows before the road kicks up to the finishing line, with another ramp of 10%. This stage is simply stunning.
Greg Van Avermaet – the Olympic champion will look towards this stage as his best hope of taking a win in Tirreno. He was brilliant in Strade, but had to settle for 2nd place. Some of these steep ramps will test his climbing ability to it’s very limit.
Vincenzo Nibali – was very poor today, no surprise there. The Shark still only seems to lift his level for Grand Tours. To win this stage, he would need to be 100% and he isn’t.
Peter Sagan – won a stage very similar to this back in 2013. After illness ruined his chances in Strade, he bounced back with 3rd place on Thursday and a win on Friday. This is the type of stage I’m sure Sagan relishes, one that will really test his climbing abilities. He loves a challenge!
Zdenek Stybar – another rider that enjoyed a good day in Strade Bianche and will like this stage. He looked very strong throughout that race, but he couldn’t cope on the final climb. I have a feeling that he is still a little short of top form.
Michal Kwiatkowski – a stage like this is perfect for the former world champion. After taking a brilliant win in Strade, he will be full of confidence. Team Sky have a very strong squad here and should be able to support their leader deep into the stage. A brilliant descender, he can attack his rivals at any point.
Tim Wellens – one of the strongest riders on the planet! He will love this stage, giving him multiple points where he can attack. Clearly in magnificent form in Strade, he didn’t have the best time today, crashing and landing on his bum! After getting back to the front, he was dropped early on the climb. Can he turn it around after a good night’s sleep?
Tiesj Benoot – you might have noticed he finished far down the rankings on day 2, that was due to a crash in the feed zone. Tiesj is okay though, the crash wasn’t a bad one. After a strong performance in Strade Bianche, he’ll be looking forward to this demanding stage. He forms a very dangerous partnership with Tim Wellens, giving Lotto two options in the closing stages. This could be the day of his first pro win, just one day after his birthday!
Edvald Boasson Hagen – I think these climbs are right on the limit for him. If the others really go at full gas, he will be in danger of getting dropped. He could do with getting up the road and letting the others chase after him. In Scott Thwaites, he has a teammate that should be able to help in the closing stages. If both survive, one of them has a good chance of making the podium.
Rigoberto Uran – was very impressive today and he’ll love the one-day style of this stage. Cannondale have not won a world tour race since Davide Formolo took a stage of the Giro in 2015. The Colombian is the team’s best chance of success and the parcours here are great for him. He likes steep slopes and can descend very well. Uran has a great chance of taking a win.
Adam Yates – another rider that really impressed today. He now sits in 2nd place, 33 seconds behind Quintana. You could argue that he possesses a better TT than the Colombian, so Yates will be very keen to try and narrow the gap in this stage. He has the explosive kick required to challenge for the win.
Nairo Quintana – the Colombian was his brilliant best today. I do think he’ll be a little concerned about the presence of Adam Yates. We rarely see Nairo ride any one-day races, so it’s hard to judge how he’ll cope with this stage. He will need all of his team to help protect against the attacks and I think he’ll be nervous about this stage. It is a bit of a step into the unknown.
Geraint Thomas – such a shame he lost big time in the TTT. He was brilliant on Thursday and really impressed today. To stay that close to Quintana was a huge step forward for the Sky rider. Given his record in one day races, I can’t wait to see how he tackles this stage. Has a good chance of taking another win.
This is a tough day to predict. It is on the limit for most of the puncheurs, the main issue is that 14% section 4km from home. That is when the climbers should try to drop their faster rivals. I think the climbers will win the battle with the puncheurs and I see Adam Yates crossing the line first. That should make the final TT very tense!
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