The last monument of the season has arrived!
The route was re-done in 2011 but started in Milano.This is the 2nd year running it has started in Bergamo and it is mainly the same route as 2012.
Valcava – 11.8km at 8% with a max of 12%.
Colle Brianza – 4.2km at 6.9% with a max of 7.5%.
Colma di Sormano – 9.6km at 6.5% with a max of 8.4%,but the last 1.9km is at 15.8%,max of 25/27%.
Madonna del Ghisallo – 8.6km at 6.2% with a max of 14%.
This climb ends with just 9.4km to go,this contains a descent before 2.8km of flat.
In both 2011 and 2012 the winner went away on the final climb and lasted till the end.In 2011,the winner was Oliver Zaugg and Joaquim Rodriguez won last year.
Bad weather is predicted,this is not new for this race and I’m sure the riders will be ready for it.It did make the final descent very tricky in 2012 and many riders fell off their bikes.
After the brilliant Milano-Torino race,on Wednesday,I’ve had a good look through the field and narrowed it down to the following riders:
Rodriguez,Pozzovivo,Nibali,Gesink,Sagan,Atapuma,Martin,Ulissi,Kwiatkowski,Henao,Uran,Majka and Gilbert.
I don’t think Contador seems capable of winning just now,so Majka may get another opportunity.Saxo,might even turn to Nico Roche.
Movistar arrive with Rui Costa,Valverde and Quintana!With all that Rui Costa has been doing this week,I doubt very much if he will be in contention.Valverde is smarting from his defeat at the Worlds but the course doesn’t seem perfect for him.
All of the big riders should stay together until the final climb.The final section of the climb is over 11% and this is where we’ll see the race torn to pieces.It was at this point in 2011 and 2012 the race was won.Rodriguez will attack here,but can anyone match him?
Pozzovivo has had a great season and was in good form on Wednesday,I see him having a great chance of winning.It has been said that he doesn’t like bad weather and descents but the Vuleta put paid to those stories.He finished 10th in the Giro and 6th in the Vuelta.He was 6th here in 2011 when riding for Colnago.He rides for a better team now and will be helped by Carlos Betancur.I think Pozzovivo is capable of following the Rodriguez attack.
Nibali is in good form and is very strong downhill,but has he recovered from Sunday?
Incredibly Sagan could be the dark horse!Can’t believe I actually just said that.He can cope with the steep climb,brilliant downhill and can sprint.He will also have Basso and Caruso to help him on the climbs.
Martin went well in 2012 but hasn’t looked great recently.
Ulissi is in great form and has a good chance of 2 wins in a row.
Uran should be Sky’s main man as Froome has no chance(in fact,he’s now withdrawn) but Henao will go well too.Has Uran recovered from his spectacular crash on Sunday?
Kwiatkowski could be another interesting rider.He can get over the steep stuff,is very quick downhill and has a good sprint.Remember he finished 4th at the Amstel and 5th in Flèche.
Contador – no.
Will the curse strike Rui Costa down?Quintana not looking too good just now,so should be an angry Valverde that rides.
Scarponi has a great chance.He finished the Vuelta in brilliant form and won the GP Etruschi before a great performance at the Worlds.If both he and Ulissi make it to the end he will be allowed to attack with 1km to go,as Ulissi is superior in the sprint.
It’s been a very long and demanding spell for Rodriguez and I’m not confident he’ll walk away with the win.
Robert Gesink is another interesting rider.He is in good form,despite a poor Worlds,and instead of going home after Sunday he stayed in Italy to recon the course.He is serious about winning and the Belkin DS has spoken about putting Nordhaug or Slagter in the break,to help him later in the race.
The story of the race ….
The 1st climb is hard,9.6km at 9%,but it won’t see any real action,apart from the break establishing a healthy lead.The 2nd climb,Sormano,isn’t too bad until the final 2km.They have an average of 15% with 25% switchbacks.Riders will be dropped here but with 80km to go,none of the main riders will suffer.
The historic climb of the Madonna del Ghisallo,which passes the famous church,is hard at the end,but with 45km to go,it won’t be decisive.It will thin the field to around 30 riders.
The final climb is where the action will happen.With sections of 15% in the final kilometre,the riders all know that this is the most important part of the race.If a lone rider has 20-30 seconds they can survive to the end of the race,unless a team has more than one rider in the chasing group.Movistar,Cannondale and Lampre have strong teams and could have multiple riders to chase down a lone rider,but if Sagan is there,Cannondale will have to do it all themselves.
People have been writing off Sagan,which I find incredible.The man can do anything he sets his mind too and he can cope well with short,steep climbs.His odds are far too big,considering Gilbert has shorter odds.
When the bookies opened their odds were well out,so I’ve backed quite a few riders at large odds:
Atapuma 200/1,Kwiatkowski 150/1,Scarponi 100/1,Pozzovivo 66/1,Gesink 33/1,Uran 18/1 and Sagan 16/1.
I also have Pinot to beat Pardilla in a match bet at 3/4 and did have Gesink v Froome,but Froome has withdrawn.
I have added Pellizotti to beat Voeckler at evens.The Italian is in good form and was 12th in 2012,finishing with the main group of riders.Voeckler has no form at this race and the course doesn’t suit him.
For the overall win,I have avoided Ulissi.I won on him at Milano-Torino but his odds are a bit short now.
If I had to pick just 1 rider it would be Pozzovivo.He is still available at 40/1,which is great value,but take each way.I would also recommend taking Sagan as a cover bet.