Ambri > Novazzano 190.5km
I’ve been looking forward to this one, I’m a sucker for a well-crafted lap circuit. It contains some of the circuit used back in the 2009 worlds, that year Cadel Evans took home the win for Australia. It’s another day that suits quite a few riders, but you need punch to win this one.
The temperature continues to increase, now we’re talking about 33 degrees, which is roasting hot. Not all the riders can cope with this heat, but at least those here should now be getting used to it.
It’s beautiful, isn’t it? The lap is covered on two full occasions, and the main climb is the Pedrinate, which is done three times. The climb is 2.3km at 8.1%, but that’s not the only climbing in the circuit, it’s just that the rest of it is unclassified. The beauty with the circuit is the lack of flat kilometres, most of it is either up or down.
Case in point is just inside the final 2km, when the road kicks up for 750m at 8.4%, it’s indicative of the tough circuit facing the riders. This circuit should set the riders up to attack, I’ll be most disappointed if we don’t see full gas racing.
I’ve gone backwards and forwards with this stage, but now I see it with some clarity. We’ve had four relatively hard stages, all raced in hot conditions. This stage will be even hotter, and the lap circuit is a tough one, I see this being a very hard in the saddle and the front group blowing to pieces.
The downhill start usually makes it hard for a strong break to form, but it still needs someone to control proceedings. I think we’ll see Ineos, and QuickStep keep the break in check, then all hell will break loose on the circuit, it’s just a shame we don’t have more laps.
As the climb isn’t that long, it will still be hard to get big gaps between the top GC riders, but this is a dangerous day for those who don’t like attacking racing. There is a chance that during the last lap, the “right” move gets away and takes the win, taking vital seconds in the GC battle. It’s a day some will be happy to see the back of.
There will be those who pray that the GC riders don’t go full gas and save energy for the mountain stages. If this does happen, it opens the door to the likes of Matthews, Pidcock and Bettiol.
This stage takes place very close to the Italian border, it’s one that many will have targeted before the race. With friends and family at the roadside, it always provides extra motivation for the local riders.
Bora – if the peloton is significantly reduced, they’ll likely have the most riders. Schachmann looked good today, he seems to have recovered well from his crash, but just because he did well today doesn’t mean he’ll still be okay tomorrow. Vlasov and Higuita will be up there, the punchy hills suit them, and they can both do a good sprint. Bora are in a strong position, but can they play their cards right?
Remco Evenepoel – is it time for him to come out to play? He’s ridden a conservative race so far, saving himself for the big stages to come. The short punchy hills are perfect for him, not many can respond when he goes full gas up an 8% ramp. I’m not sure how he copes with the heat, but it was roasting hot the year he won in Burgos. No doubt, he’ll start as the favourite, he is Remco after all.
Jakob Fuglsang – he’s looked a million dollars so far in this race. Fresh from a win in France, he’s coasted through the opening four stages, always seeming to be at the front. He doesn’t have much of a sprint, but he’ll be up there scrapping for the win.
Adam Yates – just like Fuglsang, he lacks a bit in the sprinting department, but he should like the look of this stage. He normally goes well in this type of stage in Tirreno, but he’ll be wary of Evenepoel. We’re about to head into the high mountains, he can’t let Remco get a head start.
Marc Hirschi – of all the stages in the race, this is the best one for him. He’ll be up there in the GC group, and he packs a very fast sprint. Hirschi could also benefit from not really being a threat for the overall title, who’s going to mark him when he attacks late in the day?
Domenico Pozzovivo – the living legend, the frog! Despite starting the year without a team, the 39-year-old finished 8th in the Giro, he really is incredible. This is a race he always seems to go well in, he’s one of the few who can still perform at a high level, even after a demanding Giro. He might not be the obvious pick for this stage, but if we get a GC fight, he’ll be up there with the best.
Stefan Küng – he’ll be hoping to slip off the front in the closing stages and take the stage and yellow jersey. Williams looked in trouble today, and his team didn’t impress either, tomorrow is a chance for someone to take the jersey off him. With the big GC riders covering each other, Küng could get some freedom as we know he won’t survive the high mountains. His current shape looks great, just watch him fly.
Søren Kragh – we all know he’s going to attack, it’s just a question of when. He’s one who’ll hope the GC riders save their bullets for another day.
Stefano Oldani – Italian breakaway hopeful number 1.
Alessandro Covi – Italian breakaway hopeful number 2.
Fausto Masnada – Italian breakaway hopeful number 3.
Gianni Moscon – Italian breakaway hopeful number 4.
I’m expecting a hugely demanding day, thanks to the heat and challenging lap circuit. Despite the presence of Evenepoel, I’m edging towards someone who isn’t as much of a GC threat. I’ll take a win for Marc Hirschi.