Rovereto / Predazzo 153km
After a season with very little for breakaway riders, could this be the day? It ticks a few boxes: there’s a climb at the start, the final climb isn’t too hard and it’s a flat finish. Those down on GC, who can climb, will be getting a little excited. However, given the GC situation, this isn’t a nailed on breakaway day.
Lots of rain, which will make things much harder.
After 5km of flat, the riders face Passo Sommo, all 15.6km at 7.3% of it. A long descent follows on wet roads, the bunch will be nervous with the Giro just around the corner.
This is the final climb of the day, Passo Pramadiccio. This cat 2 effort is 8.8km at 6.6% and crests with 15km to go. The descent is very fast, thankfully with only a couple of corners. The final 9km is flat.
This is where it gets tricky. There are eight riders within 1 minute of Geoghegan Hart, crucially it includes two riders from EF, Bahrain and Bora, this race is still wide open. All these teams have quality riders who can win from the break, but the chance to put pressure on Ineos is one that they shouldn’t give up.
Ineos won’t chase the break, unless it contains a GC threat, they already have two stages and there’s no point bringing the bonus seconds into play. The big question is whether we’ll see the likes of Cepeda, Kämna and Buitrago attack on the first climb, blowing the race apart. All these riders are sitting in the top 10 on GC, some of them won’t be keen on taking such a big risk, but it’s the right thing to do.
If this happens, Ineos will try to follow with Sivakov, but there’s no way he’ll work. This is the big problem for a move like this, giving Sivakov a free ride to the final climb is very risky. If they want to try and win GC the other option is to control the stage, and smash the final climb, but they need to drop De Plus and hopefully Sivakov. This would leave Geoghegan Hart isolated, and that’s when the attacks come. Having the bonus seconds to play for would be a big help, the Londoner has already taken 20 seconds thanks to his two stage wins. Now, it’s going to be hard to break Ineos on a short climb, but you never know if you don’t try.
In terms of the break, I don’t see a situation where a move simply rolls off the front containing all the climbers who are down on GC, there’s two stages left for teams to try and win GC, they need to take advantage of both. This will be disappointing for the likes of Dombrowski and Bouchard, but I think we’re set for another GC day.
Tao Geoghegan Hart – the focus is on keeping the jersey, not a third stage. He’s going to be attacked in the finale, and there’s a chance he’ll have to do some work himself, which makes winning the stage very hard. However, if the team can control without him working, he’s already shown he’s the fastest of the GC riders.
Lenny Kämna – took a brilliant win today, and the flat finish is a good one for him, once he gets a gap, he’s hard to bring back. Bora were brilliant today; they’ll take confidence from that and hope to put Ineos under pressure again.
Santiago Buitrago – has a good sprint on the flat, not brilliant, but fast enough to challenge for the win if Geoghegan Hart isn’t in the mix. He’ll likely be used as an attacking option on the final climb as he’s further down on GC compared to his teammate.
Jack Haig – second on Tuesday, as everyday goes on he seems to be improving. He should enjoy the climbs in this stage, and will Buitrago attacking, he’s got a good chance of taking the win.
Aleksandr Vlasov – today was a big relief for all Vlasov fans, he passed the big test in the race. I was worried after the opening two stages, but today was enough to get me excited. Bora rode a brilliant stage; they’ll go again and hope to take another stage win. Vlasov will likely be used as their sprint option.
Hugh Carthy – not a great finish for Hugh, his sprint isn’t fast enough to beat those already mentioned. Cepeda has been used as an attacking option in this race, but I think we could well see Hugh attacking on the final climb, the rain will be an advantage for him.
Felix Gall – did okay considering he crashed on Tuesday. He’ll hope to be in the front group in the finale, and once everyone else marks each other, he gets off the front and takes the win.
Simon Carr – breakaway hopeful number 1.
Joe Dombrowski – breakaway hopeful number 2.
Gianluca Brambilla – breakaway hopeful number 3.
Antonio Pedrero – breakaway hopeful number 4.
I think it’s going to be a GC day, and the attacks will be plentiful in the final 25km.
Ineos should be able to shut these down, and I think we’ll see Aleksandr Vlasov taking a sprint win.
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