Isernia > Blockhaus 191.2km
The GC battle starts here. Make no mistake, this is an enormous day of cycling. We have five categorised climbs and 5015m of climbing, this will be a hugely significant day in the battle for the pink jersey. As we have a rest day on Monday, and the next GC day isn’t until next weekend, expect to see all the big teams come out swinging. I’m expecting an epic day, one that we’ll remember for a long time.
Cloudy sun and nice temperatures, but there is a chance of a thunderstorm near the end of the stage.
The opening 40km is very challenging, it contains three categorised climbs. Straight from the gun we have 2.3km at 6.4%, which is quickly followed by two cat 2 efforts. These climbs are 8.1km at 6.7% and 5.5km at 6.7%. The difficulty of the start means that we have lots of possibilities in the early stages, it’s going to be very hard for Trek-Segafredo to control.
Passo Lanciano marks the start of the finale of the stage. This cat 1 climb is 10.4km at 7.3%, and it starts with a real punch. The descent is relatively narrow but isn’t technical.
Blockhaus is 13.4km at 8.2%, it’s a proper mountain test. Last time we were here it was 2017 and Nairo Quintana took the win from Pinot and Dumoulin, only these two and Mollema finished within one minute of him. This is a finish where we’ll see big gaps on GC.
The start of the stage is good for the breakaway, but the near 100km of flat that comes after is bad news. Who will want to chase the morning move? Ineos and BikeExchange seem the obvious picks, but there is no guarantee this happens. As this stage contains so much climbing, teams will not want to commit too many men to chasing on the front, they’ll want to save as many as they can for the two cat 1 climbs. This is what gives the break a decent chance of taking the win, but their fate, as always, lies in the hands of the peloton.
This stage also marks the start of the fight for the KOM jersey as there are 85 points available before we even get to Blockhaus, which has another 40 points on offer. Koen Bouwman is the current holder of the jersey, but he only has 68 points. If you are down on GC and have ambitions in this classification, this is a stage where you should be in the break, especially as Bouwman is too close on GC to be “allowed” in the move. Please note, this doesn’t mean he won’t be in the move. It seems the growing trend for riders a couple of minutes down to jump in breakaways.
That’s exactly what Lennard Kämna will think. This is his last chance of trying to take the pink jersey, I expect him to roll the dice early. In recent stages, López has been happy to chase him, but that would be incredibly risky in a stage like this. Kämna will throw caution to the wind and jump early, we’ll have to see if Trek-Segafredo react. They’ve ridden well in recent stages, but the start will be very hard for them as they don’t have many climbing domestiques.
Once we get onto Blockhaus, we’ll see who wants to dictate the pace, most likely are Ineos. Castroviejo crashed on Friday, he’s unlikely to be able to fulfil his normal role, that’s not great news for the team. Swift and Puccio can be used on the flat, but without Castro, they are a man light on the climbs. For once, will they let another team take control? I don’t see a lot of top climbing domestiques in the race, especially as some teams arrive with two or three leaders. With a lack of riders to set pace and chase, we could see a slightly different climb to normal.
Questions I Want Answered
Are Ineos as strong as usual?
Does Yates have a sore knee?
Just how close on GC is too close to get in a break these days?
Why would you bring 3 leaders to a race?
Do the GC teams actually care about winning stages?
Is Carapaz really that good?
Is Bouwman too close to go in the break?
Can Bardet roll back the years?
Can Kämna take pink?
Why I am finding it so hard to work out this fucking race?
Richard Carapaz – this is a huge day for him, can he deliver? When Carapaz gets into grand tour GC mode, he seems to grow an extra lung. With Ineos looking strong, he should start as the favourite to win the stage, but he’ll come under fire from Simon Yates. I don’t think there’s much between the two of them, we’ll have to see who has the best legs on the day.
Simon Yates – banged his knee the other day, which isn’t ideal for a cyclist. It’s like a sniper getting a bee sting on their trigger finger. Yates is a hard rider to predict, when he’s good he’s one of the best in the world. If he has one of those days, he’ll win the stage.
João Almeida – the climb could be a little steep for him, but I don’t think he’ll lose too much time. UAE have a strong team to support him, Almeida will hope to still be in the fight for pink after the stage.
Romain Bardet – he approached the Giro with amazing form, he must start this stage as one of the men to beat. Bardet is looking back to his best, and I’m talking about a rider who’s finished 2nd in the Tour de France. If Carapaz and Yates look at each other, Bardet could be the man to take advantage.
Hugh Carthy – I’m looking forward to seeing what Hugh can do on this climb, one that suits him well. He is at his best in this type of stage, one with a lot of climbing and a very demanding final mountain. I think he can be challenging for the stage win.
Lennard Kämna – breakaway hopeful number 1.
Davide Formolo – breakaway hopeful number 2.
Lorenzo Fortunato – breakaway hopeful number 3.
Joe Dombrowski – breakaway hopeful number 4.
I’ll take a breakaway win for Davide Formolo, and I hope to have some answers to my questions. Vamos!
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