2022 Giro d’Italia Stage 18 Preview

Borgo Valsugana > Treviso 149.2km

After hauling themselves over the mountains, the sprinters get one last chance in the race. Sprint stages this late in a grand tour can often go the way of the breakaway, it’s all to do with the will of the peloton. The start will likely be fast, before the bunch decides on the type of stage we get.

Weather

Sunny and much warmer than recent stages.

Key Point

With 55km to go, the bunch climb this little kicker. 1.1km at 12.4% is steep enough to cause some damage, but the climb is on a narrow road, making it easy for the sprint teams to block.

Finale

With 5km to go, the road suddenly gets narrow, and it stays like this for 1500m. Getting a good, early position is important for this type of finish. The rest is pretty standard, with just a couple of corners in the final 2km.

Tactics

This is not like previous editions of the Giro where the team in charge of the Maglia Ciclamino didn’t want a sprint finish. The difference this year is the Maglia Ciclamino is already a done deal, this is a free hit for FDJ. Also wanting a sprint will be QuickStep, UAE, Bahrain, DSM and Cofidis, that’s a lot of firepower. Hoping to spoil the party are Jumbo-Visma, BikeExchange, Lotto Soudal, AG2R and Israel-Premier Tech. These squads do contain several strong rouleurs, so the formation of the break will be important for those not wanting it to succeed. 

Contenders

Arnaud Démare – three stage wins and the sprint jersey has been a magnificent return for the French sprinter, this is an enormous chance to take a fourth stage. He still has a full team to support him, including a well-oiled sprint train. The other sprint teams will be happy to let FDJ control up to the final kilometre, then they’ll try and jump them. That makes the roles of Sinkeldam and Guarnieri very important, they cannot allow Démare to be crowded out by others arriving with speed. Given his record in this race, he must start as the big favourite.

Mark Cavendish – he’s managed to survive the mountains, giving him a crack at a second stage win. His win in Hungary was stunning but seems a very long time ago. Since then, he’s had a couple of 3rd place finishes, but he’s not looked fast enough to take another win. With everyone feeling tired, I wouldn’t rush to write Cav off, this is a rider who’s won in Paris on four occasions, he knows how to survive a race and save energy for the final sprint. No Mørkøv is a huge loss, he needs everyone else to step up, particularly Van Lerberghe and Ballerini. Cavendish could easily have left the race one week ago, you can bet he’ll be motivated to take another win, especially as he won in this city back in 2013.

Fernando Gaviria – three podium finishes in the race, which isn’t a bad return, but he will be disappointed. On a couple of occasions, it’s looked like he’s had the speed to win, but just couldn’t get the job done. Will this stage be his day?

Simone Consonni – he’ll be in the mix for the top 5.

Phil Bauhaus – he was 2nd in Cuneo and looked to be finishing fast. The problem is a lack of support in the closing kilometres. 

Alberto Dainese – his win in Reggio Emilia is still the biggest shock in the whole race. Now he has even less support than before, I doubt he can make the podium.

Edward Theuns – he’s had a couple of opportunities in the race, but would have hoped for better. If you think back to Hungary, he looked destined for a good finish, but Démare shouldered him off the wheel of Cavendish. Now with the full support of the team, I hope to see fast Eddie challenging for the podium.

Mathieu van der Poel – if anyone is crazy enough to attack on the little kicker, it’s him!

Sacha Modolo & Andrea Vendrame – the two local boys.

Edoardo Affini – breakaway hopeful number 1.

Chris Juul-Jensen – breakaway hopeful number 2.

Pascal Eenkhoorn – breakaway hopeful number 3.

Dries De Bondt – breakaway hopeful number 4.

Prediction Time

The sprint teams to do a proper job in the opening kilometres and Arnaud Démare to take another win.

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