Greccio > Tortoreto 218.7km
Strap yourself in, it’s the first time this year we’ll see Van Aert, van der Poel, Pidcock Alaphilippe and Girmay going head-to-head. The stage ends with a lap circuit, and it contains a tough little climb which is done three and a bit times. As the stage ends with the hill, it’s going to be a fascinating fight between some of the best classics riders in the world.
Getting warmer with temperatures edging up to 20 degrees.
Harder than the numbers suggest. The average might be 7% but the climb has a significant number of steeper sections. This will be a tricky finish to get right.
Does anyone want to go long? With 14km between the climbs, it is possible for a brave soul to go long, but they’ll need help for it to be successful. The beauty of this stage is that the main contenders aren’t really a threat on GC, which could mean a strong group attack on the penultimate climb, but I hope for a big showdown last time up.
I do wonder if a GC rider can get in the mix with the puncheurs, there’s a chance to take some time on their rivals. UAE are the team to watch for this, having three GC options is good for this type of stage, but only if someone is brave enough to go early. The same can be said of Jumbo-Visma, with all eyes on Van Aert, it’s possible for someone like Benoot to attack and surprise.
Wout Van Aert – just how good is his current form? He missed some training due to sickness, but that was a while ago. He said he was going to target a couple of stages in this race, mainly to get some hard racing in his legs before his target races. Winning would be good, but not essential, it’s all about getting into shape for Sanremo.
Mathieu van der Poel – see above. What he and Van Aert seem to have learned is not to go too deep in this race, it screws you up for Sanremo. Two stages which contain full gas efforts is great training for the upcoming classics. He doesn’t have the team to control this stage, if anyone is likely to go long, it’s him. Some will tell you this climb doesn’t suit him, but it shouldn’t be a problem for someone who’s won on Mur de Bretagne.
Tom Pidcock – he arrives with the best form of the main contenders, thanks to wins on Alto do Malhão and in Strade Bianche. This type of uphill finish is excellent for Pidcock, he benefits from being significantly lighter than Van Aert and van der Poel. However, being lighter doesn’t guarantee him the win, he still needs the grunt to follow the big moves.
Julian Alaphilippe – disappointed in Strade Bianche, but this stage is nowhere near as hard. Given his win in the Ardèche, he must be one of the guys to beat in this stage. Alaphilippe has made a career out of winning races like this, it’s going to be an excellent test against some of the best in the world.
Biniam Girmay – will it be too hard for him? Sometimes I think I underestimate his climbing ability; this sort of finish could well be within his capabilities.
Primož Roglič – if on form, this is the type of finish he regularly wins, but is he on top form? After three stages, we’re still all in the dark, after this day we’ll know everything we need to know.
Tiesj Benoot – form is excellent, I hope he’s one of the brave riders who attacks early.
Valentin Madouas – another rider with excellent form, but when he attacks, others are likely to follow.
Andrea Bagioli – this is the type of finish he likes, but it depends on his team role, Alaphilippe will likely be their number 1.
Filippo Ganna – I’ll throw his name in the hat, hopefully he goes long.
It takes a brave/stupid man to go against the big 5, and I’m not feeling that brave.
I’ll take a win for Tom Pidcock, he’s the one with the form.