By David Hunter
Matelica – Jesi 196.9km
A day for the sprinters.
There are a couple of lumps along the way, but this should end in a big sprint. So far, the fast men have only had one opportunity, that means we’ll see lots of teams wanting to chase down the morning break.
A sunny day with some rain for the afternoon and there is more wind around, which will interest a few teams. It’s only around 18mph, which means we’re unlikely to see any echelons, but teams will have to be watchful. This is especially true when the peloton hit the lap circuit as much of it is quite exposed.
The finish is nowhere near as technical as the last sprint, just as well really. Once the riders turn left with just under 4km remaining, it brings them onto town centre streets. They have to negotiate two roundabouts, before the turn leading into the final kilometre. Considering some of the sprint finishes we’ve had in previous editions of Tirreno, this is remarkably straightforward.
The main issue is that it does end with an uphill gradient, that will make the timing of the launch very important.
Elia Viviani – QuickStep did a brilliant job on Wednesday, perfectly setting up the sprint for their sprinter. Instead of Max Richeze in the final position, they threw a surprise and put Štybar in that role. That decision was a brave one, but it worked as Štybar was outstanding. I did mention that Viviani and Richeze haven’t really worked together before, maybe the team wanted to stick with a rider that the Italian had a relationship with, I wonder if they’ll continue with this in this stage? Viviani looks the fastest sprinter and has the best lead out train, that puts him in an incredibly strong position.
Fernando Gaviria – didn’t have the speed to come past Viviani, on Friday, but he knows that he has the speed to beat him. The problem for the Colombian is that he only really has Consonni to help in the closing stages. This means he’s unlikely to sprint from the front, he’ll need to come from behind Viviani. That will make life difficult for Gaviria, as he really needs Viviani to make a mistake in the sprint.
Peter Sagan – despite getting over a recent illness, Sagan was still good enough to finish 2nd on Friday. The former world champion is the best rider in the peloton at holding position in the closing stages, I’ve never seen anyone better than him. He doesn’t have a sprint train, but he doesn’t need one. After two demanding stages, I wonder what his energy levels will be like.
Anyone else – it would take a near miracle for a lesser sprinting to beat all three of these superstars.
Sorry to be boring, but it’s another win for Elia Viviani. The uphill finish could make it very close, but I think he’ll have enough to take his 2nd win of the week.
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