Camargo > Cistierna 189.8km
This is a stage you don’t often see in a grand tour. We have a very tough cat 1 climb which starts just over half way into the stage, from the crest there is 64km to go. It looks a weird one to me, hopefully it’s good to watch.
It will be cloudy and there’s a chance of rain. The wind is light, but it will be a tailwind throughout.
Puerto de San Glorio is 26.4km at 4.7%, it is long and demanding. It’s hard to imagine any sprinter looking at this and being confident of making it over in the front group.
Very easy, with the final bend coming with 500 to go.
Will anyone try and hold it together for a reduced sprint? Back in the day, this would have been a Peter Sagan stage. His team would have ensured the break was relatively weak, then set a tempo on the climb to drop the pure sprinters, before setting up a sprint finish. The problem is that we don’t have that type of sprinter in this race, so that means it should be a day for the break.
One issue for the break could be if QuickStep want to keep the red jersey. Sitting in the top 25 are Luis León Sánchez and David De La Cruz, neither of whom are genuine contenders for red, and could be tempted into going for the break. If either man makes the move, it will be interesting to see what QuickStep do. Saying that, only two men to cover shouldn’t be a problem and neither should make the break.
I think everything is pointing to a breakaway stage, but the size of the move will be important. In stages like this, sometimes the fight for the break is so fierce that a relatively small group eventually gets away. If this happens, someone might be tempted to chase it down and set up an interesting finish.
If a team does control the break, they open up the option of attacks on the climb. This would allow climbers to get away from the peloton and contest the win. I said it was weird, but the more I write about it, the more I like this stage.
Mads Pedersen – can he really win a stage with a cat 1 climb? If Trek-Segafredo try and hold it together, they leave themselves wide open to another team lifting the pace on the climb and dropping Pedersen. I imagine they’ll try and get someone in the break and let the stage unfold. It is possible for a sprinter to win this type of stage, Viviani won a stage with a cat 1 climb back in 2018, but that day the climb was at the start of the day. The Dane is climbing well, but this is still a big ask for him.
Fred Wright – he’s the obvious pick given his current form, but he’ll need some help in the break. He was very unlucky not to win on Wednesday, but you can be sure he’s going to keep trying. He ticks a lot of boxes for a stage like this, he can climb, sprint and TT, he’s the full package.
Julian Alaphilippe – it depends on his team role, but it’s a great stage for Julian. Remco won’t come under pressure in this stage, hopefully that means we see the world champion going for the break.
Davide Villella – he’s a decent pick for a stage like this. He’s not a brilliant climber, but once the break is established, the pace on the climb shouldn’t be too hot. The Italian also packs a good sprint from a reduced group.
Quentin Pacher – he’s the same type of pick as Villella. Pacher is having a good season, he has a fast sprint and can cope with a hill or two.
Ethan Hayter – potentially someone who can win if the break isn’t successful, but will Ineos chase for that outcome? If not, he’ll go for the break and take his chances.
Daryl Impey – 2nd on Wednesday, this is a stage that suits him very well.
Harry Sweeny – he’s one of a batch of young riders chasing their first pro win. He came close to taking it in the Tour de l’Ain, and as he’s been happy with his recent form, I expect him to have a few chances in this race. He’s got a good sprint, if it ends that way.
Dylan Van Baarle – if allowed to chase some personal glory, he’s exactly the type of rider who can win from the break. On his side is experience and a huge engine, a dangerous combination.