Osimo Stazione > Osimo 193.3km
Every year the organisers treat us to a muro stage, this year we’re in Osimo, scene of a fantastic Simon Yates win in the 2018 Giro before it all started to go wrong for him. I like the route, but there’s a little bit inside me that wishes it was even harder.
Nice and warm again. The wind starts at around 20km/h and weakens throughout the day. The section before the riders hit the lap circuit will see the bunch a little on the nervous side, the roads are exposed and the wind is strong enough to cause splits, but will anyone try and create echelons?
The circuit is constantly up and down, featuring lots of steep kickers.
This is the main climb in the lap circuit, Muro di Costa del Borgo. 1.5km at 13.1% is hard enough, but the final 500m is on cobbles, perfect for the classics specialists in attendance.
This is the rise to the finishing line, with the final 700m or so also on cobbles. This is the same finish as in the 2018 Giro, it’s not easy even though the cobbles aren’t too bad.
Well, there could well be two races going on in this stage, or maybe not. The classics boys will want a big day in the legs, this is the last chance to get proper race efforts in before Sanremo, they’ll want to take this opportunity to test themselves. That means we’ll see lots of Van Aert, van der Poel, Pidcock and Alaphilippe. There’s plenty of little hills in the opening 35km for a strong break to form and never be seen again, leaving the GC riders to wait until the final two laps before going tonto.
A concern for the morning break is the presence of crosswinds in the opening section of the stage, a fast pace in the peloton will kill off any hopes the break has, and it could mean breakaway riders who have a GC contender in their squad might not have freedom to chase personal glory. The breakaway riders will take a little look before deciding to go all in or not. If they sense the moment isn’t right, they’ll sit in the bunch and wait until the first lap of the circuit to attack, the winning move could really go at any point.
What about a GC day? After taking another win, Roglič is now in the race lead, but I can’t help but think this will make life much harder for him and his team. Van Aert was meant to be targeting this stage, I don’t think he’ll now get that luxury, the team will need everyone to help defend the jersey. The problem Jumbo-Visma have is the number of riders still within 1 minute on GC (15 of them), this stage is a nightmare to control. The good news for the Jumbo Bees is the presence of Kelderman sitting in 5th place, this does give them an extra card to play. Not only are there a lot of riders still in contention for the win, but a few teams have multiple cards to play, which makes things even harder.
Both UAE and Bora have three riders still in with a shout of winning the GC. This means they can attack from distance, forcing Jumbo-Visma into burning through their domestiques, potentially isolating Roglič. I say potentially, as Wout Van Aert is more than capable of pulling a performance like what he did in the final stage of Paris-Nice out the bag.
Wout Van Aert – he would have started this stage as the big favourite, but not now the team need him to ride for Roglič and Kelderman. He can still put in a big shift and prepare for the classics, but I don’t see him getting the freedom to win the stage. Just wait for him to now be in the break!
Mathieu van der Poel – wasn’t his day on Thursday, but he did say he’d need some racing in his legs before being at his best. The muro stage in Tirreno has been won on two occasions by the big man, in both 2020 and 2021, this type of stage always suits him well. The issue is current form, can he turn things around in just two days? If anyone can, it’s him.
Tom Pidcock – him getting dropped on Thursday was the biggest surprise of the day, most didn’t see that coming. After hitting excellent early season form it was a stage that suited him well, but the infernal pace set by the climbers made it too hard for him, but that’s not to say this stage will be too.
Julian Alaphilippe – impressed on Thursday, which would have been a confidence boost after a poor Strade Bianche. This is a perfect stage for the former world champion, he’s going to be one of the main protagonists. If he can win against those already mentioned, he’ll start dreaming about Flanders.
Quinn Simmons – got into today’s break, but dropped back as it had a GC threat in it. He rode well on Thursday, but maybe showed too much of himself in the earlier laps, which cost him in the finale. This will be a stage he’ll have targeted from before the race, it also helps that all eyes will be on van der Poel, it makes it easier to slip away and take the win. However, nothing is easy in a stage like this, it’s bloody hard.
Rob Stannard – gives Alpecin a decent second option. The Aussie is excellent on steep climbs, but he’s not yet shown himself this season.
Benoît Cosnefroy – on paper, this is his type of stage, but I don’t know if he currently has the legs to challenge.
Victor Lafay – another who’ll be hunting the break, it’s a great stage for him.
Adam Yates – back in 2019 he put Roglič to the sword in the muro stage of this race, but he just missed out on the overall victory. Steep slopes are great for Yates, he’s one of the best when the gradient goes over 10%. UAE not only have him, but with McNulty and Almeida also in contention, it gives the team wonderful options to play, but I think the stage suits Yates the most.
Primož Roglič – two wins to his name, it’s been a great return to fitness for him. This stage is going to be a huge test for him, especially as Yates cracked him back in 2019, but a long time has passed since then. It’s a weird one, Roglič normally goes well on steep slopes, but I’ve also seen times when he’s lacked the punch required. With attacks likely to come from all corners, this is going to be a very difficult stage for him, but a third win isn’t out of the question.
Enric Mas – I think this is his type of stage. He was close to beating Pogačar on the steep slopes in Andalucía, and he looked strong today. He sits 31 seconds down on GC, so he’ll dream of winning the stage and overall title, but it’s not going to be easy. I’m interested to see how many can follow him when he attacks on the muro.
Bora – with Kämna, Vlasov and Hindley all within 22 seconds of Roglič, they can ride aggressively and see what happens. All three riders have what it takes to win this stage, but how will they approach the stage?
Giulio Ciccone – that’s two impressive stages he’s had, confidence will be up for this one. A lack of teammates could be an issue, but his attacking style is a big positive for this type of day.
This is an absolute nightmare to control, I’m glad I’m not on tactics for Jumbo-Visma. The break has a decent chance of going all the way, but so does an early attack once we hit the lap circuit. Most teams don’t have lots of domestiques to chase, so turning this into a GC day isn’t going to be straightforward. I think it all depends on the composition of the break, a cheeky GC rider could slide in and force Jumbo-Visma into chasing, that would be my plan if I was DS of a team with multiple options.
Force them into chasing and using up domestiques, then go for it on the lap circuit. Jumbo-Visma will no doubt use Kelderman as an attacking option, but I’m not sure he’ll be able to follow attacks from the likes of Yates and Mas.
I’ll take a breakaway win for Julian Alaphilippe, and I have no idea who’ll be in the race lead at the end of the day, but I don’t think it’ll be Roglič.