Diamante > Potenza 196.2km
When I first looked at the Giro route, this was a stage that caught my eye. 196km in length, 4500m of climbing, and without a mountaintop finish. It’s a beautifully designed stage, one that’s certain to be for the breakaway, and it’s a day that many different types of riders will think they can win.
The first of the climbs is this cat 1 effort, it’s long but not that difficult.
Monte Grande Di Viggiano is 6.4km at 9.2%, but the organisers have decided it’s only a cat 2 climb! Believe me, this is a horrible climb, especially as the road surface is poor. From the crest there is 60km to go.
This is the final classified climb. It’s a cat 3, but it’s still going to be hard after all the climbing that’s already been done in the stage. From the crest, 24km to go.
This is the final 9km of the stage, you can see it starts with a little wall, and ends with another steep ramp.
The last of the steep climbs crests with 60km to go, that makes it very hard for a pure climber to win the stage, but not impossible. The problem for the pure climbers is the start, we have 35km of fast and furious racing on a main road. This is where some will hope the break goes, but we all know that stages like this can take a long time for the break to establish.
Once the peloton heads ahead from the coast, they hit the first categorised climb of the day, which is 10km at 4.5%. If the break goes here, it changes the type of rider who’ll make the move. Who knows, maybe it won’t even go until the cat 1 climb. That’s the beauty of a grand tour breakaway stage, no one knows when the elastic will eventually snap.
Trek-Segafredo are in control of the pink jersey, and they want to keep it for as long as possible. Unlike on Mount Etna, there will be no gifts handed out by the peloton, those close on GC will be chased if they try and get in the break. I would expect the cut off to be around the 5-minute mark, anyone closer on GC will be perceived as a threat and will trigger the Trek chase. The good news for those wanting the break to succeed is that almost all of those close on GC are here for pink, they’ll have no ambition to go for the break. Kämna, Taaramäe and Vansevenant are the exception to this, but it’s going to be very hard for them to get in a break and for it to go all the way.
Once the break does go, if there isn’t a GC threat, it goes all the way. Climbers in the group need to make the steep cat 2 climb count, but it’s a long way from home to be decisive. The final cat 3 climb isn’t easy, this can also be used to put the hurt on the faster riders, but they do have a habit of winning these stages. This is a stage for someone who can climb, descend, and sprint!
The Fight for Pink
This is not a stage for the main GC riders to attack. Okay, we have a tough climb and some tricky descents, but it won’t be enough for the main guys to waste a match on. Instead, I think we’ll see Kämna on the attack at some point. He’ll hope that Trek don’t have many domestiques left in the closing stages, remember that Ciccone will be protected too. I think the move could come on the final cat 3 climb, with 38 seconds to make up, the German can’t leave it too late.
Ben Tullet – Ineos domestiques are rarely allowed in breaks with the team focussed on the GC, but they have started to lighten up a bit in recent years. Tullet fits the bill as someone who could do well in this stage, the same is true of Jhonatan Narváez. I hope the team allow these two to chase the win.
Andrea Vendrame – won a similar-ish stage last year, this is another stage that suits his characteristics. His form this year has been okay, but he’s yet to finish on the podium. Given his fast finish, if he makes the break, his rivals won’t be happy taking him to the line.
Vadim Pronskiy – Tour of the Alps stage 7 sticks in my mind, especially the way he climbed the steep hill. Now that López is out the race, Astana domestiques will be allowed to chase some personal glory. He’s unlikely to win, but I hope to see him make the break.
Magnus Cort – given his grand tour breakaway pedigree, he must start as one of the men to beat. He says that he’s not yet in top form, but I’ve made the mistake before of writing off those who claim not to be at their best. The Dane is one win away from claiming a win in each of the grand tours, his motivation will be very high in a stage like this. If he makes the break, he’ll be hard to beat.
Mathieu van der Poel – another who’s likely to be a big favourite for the stage win. The start is good for him to make the break, and you just know he’s going to try. The fight for the points classification could have an impact, FDJ might not be too keen on him potentially getting closer to Démare in that classification. The good news for MVDP is that this stage only has 15 points for the winner, FDJ will probably save their energy for another day. Alpecin-Fenix will likely throw everything they have at getting their man in the break, but if he makes it, he’ll find himself coming under severe pressure. Being the strongest rider in the break can make life very difficult for that person, especially in a stage that looks like this.
Lorenzo Rota – can climb, can sprint, that’s what you need for this stage.
Mauro Schmid – QuickStep will be looking to get involved in this one, Schmid and Knox look their best options. Schmid will hope to have some help to make the break, if he does, he’ll likely be one of the best climbers in the move. Despite being far from home, climbers need to make the cat 2 climb as hard as possible to put the faster riders into difficulty.
Bauke Mollema – his type of stage, but he’s likely going to stay with the pink jersey.
UAE – possibly the only team with multiple options for this stage. Having Rui Costa, Covi, Formolo and Ulissi is an embarrassment of riches. All can climb, and most can sprint, they are in a very strong position for a stage like this. They do have Almeida to protect, but I remember he said something before the race about the team chasing stage glory too. If UAE get two men in the break, they’ll be very hard to stop.
With grand tour breakaway royalty present, I’ll take a win for Magnus Cort.