By David Hunter
Innsbruck – Innervillgraten 181.3km
After an exciting finish to the opening stage, we should be in for more fun in the second stage.
The second stage is a relatively calm affair, up until the final 27km. At that point, we have a climb of 4.5km at 8.4%, that is a brutally steep ramp for the climbers to deal with. After that we have a long grind up to the finish, 9.6km at 3.3%.
As you can see, this isn’t a climb the climbers will worry about. In fact, it will be big ring all the way. The problem is the climb before it, where teams can blow the peloton apart and ensure a small group climb together to the finish.
Forecasts are not looking good for the peloton with a strong chance of snow throughout the stage. It looks like being a very demanding day for the bunch.
Astana – they will be a very happy squad, after Scarponi took their first win of 2017 today. For this stage they have a number of riders capable of winning a sprint from a small group. It is possible they will have Scarponi, Cataldo, Moser and Sanchez in the front group. Both Moser and Sanchez are fast finishers, but it does depend on the type of race we get. If the others attack on the penultimate climb, all the domestiques will be required to chase down the moves, making it unlikely Astana take another win. Scarponi will be happy to finish the day in the leader’s jersey.
Geraint Thomas – was looking in great form today. He easily covered some moves and attacked himself, but couldn’t get away. It was surprising that he couldn’t match the sprint of Scarponi, but Thomas will be pleased with his day’s work. The former track pursuit star will like the look of this finish, he can really drive on a false flat.
Domenico Pozzovivo – it was great to see him doing well today. He does lack a sprint, so needs to attack and hope the others let him go. The chances of that happening are small, but he does look in good form.
Davide Formolo – he seems to have coped well with his recent period at altitude. His performance today was impressive and his team will have a few options in this stage. The Italian is not the fastest sprinter, to win he’ll need to arrive solo.
Hugh Carthy – I was delighted to see him up there challenging today. He has just returned from his first ever altitude camp and I wasn’t sure how his legs would respond. Clearly, the signs were positive. A rider that always likes to hang at the back of the bunch, he made a good attack with over 1km to go. That was brought back and he couldn’t quite follow the winning moves, but he is pleased with his performance.
Thibaut Pinot – the Frenchman does have a good sprint, but he started his move from the back of the bunch today. He was late to respond to the attack by Thomas, only getting over with Formolo once they had slowed down a little. He will like this finish, but needs some teammates to make it over the penultimate climb with him. Arguably has the fastest sprint of the climbers.
Rohan Dennis – the Aussie was not quite at the level he would have hoped for today. Remember that this is a preparation race of the Giro, so Dennis won’t be losing any sleep about losing a handful of seconds to Scarponi. He is very good on steep climbs, so I would expect him to make it over the penultimate climb with the others. He is a phenomenal TT rider, the others will be wary of letting him ride away from them on the rise to the finishing line.
Mattia Cattaneo – such an impressive ride today. I’m really pleased to see him continuing his brilliant start to the season and he could benefit from a little freedom from the “bigger” riders.
I think the penultimate climb will make this a selective stage, reducing the front group to around 10 riders. That will make the final climb very hard to control and we could see someone jump away inside the final couple of kilometres. Given his TT ability, I think Rohan Dennis is a good pick for this stage.
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