Belluno > Marmolada 169km
A huge day in the Dolomites awaits the riders, a day where we’ll hopefully see some attacking racing. The last week has been rather disappointing, in terms of the GC battle, it’s had all the bang of a cheap Christmas cracker, and it probably contains a plastic moustache. Surely, we’ll get more in this stage, surely…
Some forecasts say rain, others say sun. Take your pick.
First up is Passo San Pellegrino.
Passo Pordoi is the Cima Coppi, but it doesn’t really matter as Bouwman has already won the blue jersey. It climbs to over 2200m, the first time the race has gone up to high altitude.
Passo Fedaia is a brilliant climb to finish the race, it is 8.3km at 9.4%. Get ready for a huge fight between Landa, Hindley and Carapaz. The climb is also known as the Marmolada, I hear it’s Paddington Bear’s favourite climb.
The opening 20km are flat, followed by a little kicker of 2.2km at 7.5%. It’s not really long enough for the break to form here, but it will line the bunch out and the break should form not long after. If it doesn’t the road starts to rise after 50km of racing, so after around one hour of racing. Where the break goes will have a large impact on the type of riders in it.
Once the break goes, will we eventually see someone chase it down? After letting everything go in recent stages, it’s more than likely we’ll see the GC teams chase, especially as the start isn’t ideal for the climbers to make the break.
In terms of long-range attacks, I doubt we’ll see any from the pink jersey contenders, the problem is the 30km of descending between the final two climbs. Unless you have teammates up the road to help, this would be a suicide mission, that’s why we’ll see Guillaume Martin try it!
In the GC group, the attacks will come on the final climb, it’s a hill that deserves to settle the battle for the pink jersey. 5.7km at 11% is tough, put it at the end of a grand tour and it’s brutal. The top three have looked hard to split in previous stages, will something eventually give in this stage? As Landa is 1:05 behind Carapaz, there is a small chance he could get a little freedom late in the stage, especially as he’s poor on his TT bike. Carapaz will have to keep a half eye on him, but full focus will be on Hindley. This is a finish where the Aussie needs to throw a few right handers, he needs time before the TT. Back in 2020 he lost 39 seconds to Geoghegan Hart in the final TT, that was a flat 16km effort. Sunday’s stage does have a climb in it, so the gap should be less than that, possibly around 25 seconds, so he needs time on Carapaz. On the other hand, Carapaz doesn’t need to attack, he ”just” needs to respond. The GC battle might not have been that exciting in the last three weeks, but this stage has all the potential to be a classic.
Richard Carapaz – if it comes back together, he’s got a great chance of taking the win. With Hindley having to attack, there’s every chance of him using up vital energy and Carapaz jumping him in the sprint.
Jai Hindley – so far, there’s been no sign of him putting Carapaz into difficulty, but he’ll hope to change that in this stage. Hindley has climbed very well throughout the race, I hope to see him going for it on the climb, especially as Landa isn’t really a threat to him.
Mikel Landa – he’ll hope to benefit from the top 2 looking at each other. I get the feeling he’s a little below the level of Carapaz and Hindley, but he could still take the win with a well-timed attack.
Hugh Carthy – he’s ridden himself into some great form, the big man is now purring. The Marmolada is a great climb for him, but beating the big three will require something special.
Thymen Arensman – breakaway hopeful number 1.
Joe Dombrowski – breakaway hopeful number 2.
Gijs Leemreize – breakaway hopeful number 3.
It has to be a GC day, surely! I’ll take a win for Richard Carapaz.