Bra > Rivoli 185km
It’s stage 12 and the bunch head for Turin. Before the race started, I had this day down as one that Jayco would try to control and set up a Michael Matthews win, but now I’m not so sure. If everyone takes to the start tomorrow, they’ll only be 140 riders, and contained within are around 40 guys who are just here to make up the numbers (no offence lads). Bling still has 6 teammates, but can they control this stage?
Sunshine and maybe a couple of showers.
The start isn’t flat, it’s full of little kickers that can be used by climbers/puncheurs to stretch the elastic. It’s not an easy start to control, especially with many teams looking for the break.
Colle Braida is the main event of the day. 10.6km at 5.8% sounds hard enough to me, but that includes about 600m of descending. The first part of the climb is 5.1km at 5.6%, the second bit is 4.9km at 8.3%, and takes place on narrow roads. Around 30 minutes of climbing at this point of the race is going to feel much harder than it did in the first week. From the crest there’s 28km to go.
Will Jayco try to control for Michael Matthews? Say they managed to chase down the break before the climb, once the road starts to go up, they’ll find themselves with just De Marchi and Zana to ride for Matthews, as Dunbar can’t afford to waste energy working for him. They are both good enough to set a fast pace, but Bling will be all alone for the rest of the stage, which means no win for him. Chasing down the break will only allow the climbers to attack on the hill and take the win, but I don’t think they’ve got much of a chance from the break either. I think they’ll go for it, try to control, and see what happens, they’ve got nothing to lose.
The battle for the break will be intense, especially with lots of tired legs after a horrible couple of days since the rest day. I’m looking at the sprint point after 80km, this will be of big interest for Mads Pedersen. He sits 36 points behind in the points classification, this is where he needs to start fighting back. This battle will be just one story in the opening kilometres, Milan will likely try to mark Pedersen himself, Bahrain can’t really afford anyone else to help.
The ”proper” breakaway riders, the ones with a chance of winning the stage will be looking at Jayco in the opening kilometres. If they are going to control, most will wait until the final climb before attacking. If it looks like Jayco aren’t going to at least try and chase the break, the shit will hit the fan and the opening hour will be chaotic. With only 13 riders under 5 minutes on GC, almost the whole peloton has the freedom to attack, but some will be on domestique duties, especially with a GC day on Friday. Making the break won’t be easy with so many interested, riders will have to gamble on when they make their move, it’s hard to get right.
In conclusion, either a massive break fights it out for the win or Jayco somehow manage to control and climbers attack on the hill and take the win. Take your pick!
In terms of the GC riders, the final climb isn’t hard enough for proper action, Ineos will control and ensure the peloton roll over the finishing line.
UAE – McNulty and Vine will be their cards to play for the break. McNulty has cut a frustrated figure in previous breakaway stages, but he has been looking very strong. He came here to win a stage, and this is a big chance for him. Vine crashed out of contention on Tuesday, he finished in the front group today which tells me he’s fine after hitting the deck. The Aussie is a great option for this stage.
EF – given the final climb, it should be Healy and Cepeda, but Magnus Cort cannot be discounted. I don’t have to tell you how well Healy is riding just now, but don’t forget about Cepeda, he’s also an excellent climber but the final 28km isn’t great for him.
Patrick Konrad – should have freedom in a stage like this, it’s a good-looking profile for him. Konrad has a fast finish for a climber, probably the fastest of all the riders in this section. He also has the experience to know when the break is going to form, that’s invaluable.
Ilan Van Wilder – one of the last men standing for Soudal – QuickStep. He was here to support Evenepoel, but don’t forget he’s a quality climber with a fast sprint. The issue is the dreaded COVID, has he managed to dodge the bullet despite that helicopter ride?
Einer Rubio – will find it hard to make the break, but maybe his teammates can give him a hand. The finish isn’t ideal for a rider with his characteristics.
Luis León Sánchez – a Rolls Royce of a rider. You might look at his results this year and write him off, but give the guy a break, he’s 39 years old. If you are a rider of a certain age it takes a long time to get the legs working, but just watch when he does.
Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier – if you’ve been watching this race you’ll know he’s going really well just now. He wasn’t too far away the day Paret-Peintre won, and he’ll keep trying. One slight issue is the amount of energy he’s used up compared to his rivals.
Koen Bouwman – the perfect stage for Jumbo-Visma to allow a few riders freedom to chase a stage win. The winner of this stage will likely have a good sprint as the final climb crests quite a long way from home (if Healy doesn’t do another 50km solo effort), and we know that Bouwman loves this race. Come on Jumbo, give him the nod.
Santiago Buitrago – if Jayco succeed in chasing down the break, he’s the type of rider who’ll escape on the climb and take the win.
Michael Matthews – it’s a shame Scotson had to leave the race, he would have been crucial in this stage. Bling will hope that when the dust settles a small break gets up the road and Jayco can control it. If this happens, he’ll hope that Zana has had spinach for breakfast and he can pull of a Popeye ride (kids, you might need to google that reference).
Primož Roglič – I’m just going to put it out there, this is an “easy” stage for Roglič to win. Jumbo-Visma have the strength to control the break, and Roglič has the sprint to win from the GC group. They wouldn’t, would they?
Looking at the stages left in this race, this is the best one for a Michael Matthews win, but I don’t think they’ve got the men to control this stage.
It’s a win for the breakaway and day for Jay Vine to bounce back from his crash.
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