By David Hunter
Villabassa – Funes San Pietro 142km
This is was the original plan.
Due to lots of snow on Passo delle Erbe, the organisers have dropped the climb and the stage looks like this.
That still means the peloton have to climb to 1748m, I’m not 100% sure this stage will go ahead as planned.
Still lots of snow and freezing temperatures. Just weeks before the Giro, this will not please most of the bunch.
Alpe Rodengo Zumis is a brut of a climb, with 5 kilometres at over 10%. The overall climb is 12.3km at 7.4%, but that does include an opening 8.3km at 10.3%. Hard, really hard!
The final climb is much easier, 8.7km at 6.9%, but that still is a very demanding climb, especially at the end of a difficult stage. The final 3km of the climb is relatively straightforward, but the opening 6km will really test the legs at the end of a cold day.
We already have some big gaps on GC, but with most of the world tour teams unlikely to be represented in the move, it will hard for it to stay away.
Geraint Thomas – the Sky rider is looking well placed for this stage. He climbed incredibly well in Tirreno, only beaten by Quintana on the Terminillo. His most recent spell at altitude seems to have have done him well and he starts the stage as the favourite. Also in his favour is a very strong team, especially if Landa starts to fire.
Thibaut Pinot – the Frenchman has looked nice and strong this week, exactly as I expected. He is one of the few riders who can say they’ve beaten both Contador and Valverde in a Spanish mountain stage! Pinot’s form has been impressive this season and it would be a huge shock if he wasn’t on the podium at the end of the stage. If the stage goes ahead as planned, he does need teammates to help him on the descents.
Michele Scarponi – the Italian lost the leader’s jersey to Pinot, thanks to bonus seconds, but that is something his teammates will actually be pleased about. This is a very hard stage to control, it means Astana can save their men to help Scarponi throughout the challenging day. The Italian has a huge amount of experience, something that will be invaluable in a cold stage.
Domenico Pozzovivo – the little man is not always a big fan of the harsh weather, especially when descents are involved. You cannot underestimate how difficult it becomes for a rider that has experienced a bad crash, to race in these conditions. AG2R have a very solid team here to help him and the climbs all look good for him. I hope to see him survive the descents and challenge for the win.
Davide Formolo – the Italian has started the race well, something that will please his bosses. The longer climbs are not always his speciality, but after a successful Vuelta, this might just be changing. With big goals on the horizon, I’m not sure he’ll want to risk anything in this stage.
Hugh Carthy – currently the holder of the white jersey, something he would like to keep a hold of. Coming from Preston, the young Englishman is no stranger to horrible weather conditions. He’s even been known to go out training in the freezing rain in Pamplona. Not a huge fan of descending, hopefully none of the peloton are crazy enough to fly down the hills in the snow. This is a good chance to take his first win for Cannondale.
Androni – the Italian squad arrive with three possibilities for the win. Cattaneo, Torres and Bernal have performed well throughout this season and having multiple options is great for a team of Androni’s size. With the weather taking a bad turn, it might not be to the liking of the Colombians, but it could present a big chance to Mattia Cattaneo. I’m a huge fan of the former Lampre rider, he won the Baby Giro back in 2011. Having struggled to deliver on his promise, he seems eventually to be finding his feet. Fingers crossed for a big ride.
Rohan Dennis – a great win for the Aussie today, predicted by me! I can’t see him challenging in this stage. The long climbs, the harsh weather, I think he’ll not be able to follow the wheels of the very best.
Jose Mendes – the Portuguese champion is an underrated rider. When he targets a race, he usually does very well. This is a race he likes, he was 6th here in 2015. I would expect to see him finishing in the top 10 and he might even challenge for the top 5.
The weather makes this stage a total lottery. If you are going to the Giro as a favourite, there is no way you would risk anything for a stage win here. The descents will be a nightmare and we could see a huge number of riders abandon the race early, maybe even some of the big favourites. For that reason, I’ll stay away from the “bigger” riders and go with Mattia Cattaneo. He really is riding extremely well just now.
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