Seregno > Bergamo 195km
It’s been a long time since Il Lombardia regularly finished in Bergamo, this stage pays homage to that wonderful race. Pogačar won in Bergamo in 2021, that was the first time the race finished in Bergamo since 2016. At just “195km” in length, this stage can’t really be compared to Lombardia, but it’s still going to be a little belter of a day.
We’ve got a cat 1 climb early in the day, a couple of cat 2s in the middle of the stage and then a tough looking cat 2 which crests with 30km to go. Traditionally speaking, it’s a good day for the breakaway but this is a stage which could quickly turn into a GC day, it just depends on the attitude of the riders. Ineos decided to give the jersey away today, but I don’t think it will change the type of stage we’ll get as Armirail has no chance of holding onto it. Groupama – FDJ might just try and sneak Pinot into the break, that would put the cat among the pigeons.
Hold onto your hats, it’s sunny and warm!
First up is Valico di Valcava. This is a cat 1 climb, so important for anyone wanting to win the KOM jersey. Pinot is very close on GC, but it’s still possible he’ll be the first over the crest. 11.3km at 8% is a very tough climb, one of the hardest in the race, if GC riders kick off the action early, some will be in for a very long day.
This is the first of the cat 2 climbs in the middle of the stage.
It’s quickly followed by this one.
The final categorised climb of the day is Roncola Alta. It might only be a cat 2 but the opening 7.4km averages 7.1%. The above image stops short of the KOM point, there’s still another 2km at 6% to go. If we get a hard day, this climb is tough enough to cause gaps, but with 30km to go, some will be put off from attacking. Riders will be aware of the technical descent, thankfully the roads will be dry.
With just 5km to go the riders are faced with Città Alta, the placement is perfect. It starts on cobbles and has a couple of narrow archways to deal with. It’s a beautiful climb, but also a bloody hard one.
What type of day are we likely to get? With a rest day to follow, it is possible this one turns into a GC day, but I think that’s only going to happen if Jumbo-Visma come out to play. Most teams are depleted, they lack the numbers needed to drive the pace for the whole day. Jumbo-Visma still have a full team, but do they want to move into the pink jersey? Bahrain and UAE are the other teams who can try something, but they are less likely to do so, all eyes will be on Jumbo-Visma. Will Bahrain risk it by trying to send Buitrago in the break? FDJ won’t be chasing, there’s a chance this could pay off.
Roglič said today that he was still recovering from his crash the other day, his hip is still sore, if you believe what he says. Now then, do Bahrain, Ineos or UAE decide to use this stage to test him out? Going full on the first climb would be a good idea, then you’ll see what his condition is like. If he responds positively, then you knock off the effort, but at least you’ve tried.
The breakaway riders will obviously hope for a calm day back in the GC group, they’d love to win such a beautiful stage, made all the sweeter by it being on the weekend with millions of people watching on TV. Looking at the profile, I think there’s too much flat for this to be a full gas GC day. It’s also unlikely we’ll see a GC team chase the break as the final categorised climb crests a long way from home, I’m definitely siding with the breakaway.
Some will hope the break forms in the opening 20km, others will gamble and wait until the first categorised climb. If it does go here, only climbers can make the move, the climb is a hard one. If the move goes before it, there’s a chance some bigger guys could be in there. Once the break does go, they can settle into a rhythm and build a nice advantage over the peloton. We’ll see big moves on the final categorised climb, with a small group heading towards Bergamo, before the race winning move goes on Città Alta.
In the GC group, some further down in the top 10 will look to attack on Roncola Alta, especially as Ineos will be running out of domestiques. This is a great time to try and get some time back in the GC fight, just like Hugh tried the other day. There’s risk involved due to the flat section on the run for home, but even if caught, riders won’t lose too much time on Città Alta.
UAE – I’m not sure what they are playing at. Okay, they need to protect Almeida, but they are missing out on great chances to win stages. This is a brilliant stage for McNulty, but will he be allowed freedom to go for the break? Given how they’ve ridden over the last couple of days, it seems highly unlikely.
Ben Healy – this is another of his big target stages. EF will support him to try and make the move, then it’s over to him. We’ve seen him go very well on the short, steep climbs; I’m interested to see how he goes on the longer climbs. Since turning pro he’s untested, but he did have a good record in the mountains when racing at under 23 level. He was brilliant back in Fossombrone, but we’re now approaching the end of the second week, in what is his first grand tour, hopefully he still feels fresh.
Derek Gee – one of the revelations of the race. Considering this is his grand tour debut, his performances have been remarkable. Second in Fossombrone, Viareggio and today. Plus, fourth in Crans-Montana, he’s certainly got everyone’s attention now. Most observers would love him to take a win after going so close on three occasions, but we’ll have to see how his legs respond at this point in his first grand tour, especially after another day in a rainy break today.
Bauke Mollema – another who was in today’s break, we’ll have to see how he recovers. Technically speaking, this is a good stage for the Dutch Diesel.
Primož Roglič – is he really sore? If it becomes a GC day, I still think he would win.
Ilan Van Wilder – he’s far enough down on GC to get some freedom, but can he win a stage as hard as this? The Belgian is an excellent climber, and since Remco left the race, he’s been looking good. He’ll go for the break and take his chances.
Santiago Buitrago – 6:53 down on GC, he could get some freedom, especially as FDJ are in charge. We’ve seen him try to make a few breaks, but unsuccessfully. This is a stage that suits him well, I expect him to attack on the first climb and see what happens. Having him up the road would be good for Caruso, especially if it comes back together.
Thibaut Pinot – how on Earth is he going to approach this stage? He’s 11th on GC, 4:57 behind Armirail, but only 3:13 behind Thomas. With 30 points on offer for the first climb, he’ll be keen on being first over, but will his attack force a reaction from the GC teams? I think Thomas and Roglič won’t be too worried about Pinot gaining more time, those further down the top 10 won’t be pleased, but they don’t have the numbers to chase him. He’s clearly on great form, I think he’ll be going for the stage win.
Einer Rubio – likely to be in the break, unlikely he’ll take a second win.
Lorenzo Rota – born in Bergamo, this stage means more to him than anyone else. He’s been very quiet throughout this Giro, either he doesn’t have great legs or he’s saving everything he has for this stage.
Damiano Caruso – I have a feeling Thomas and Roglič could look at each other, allowing someone like Caruso an opportunity. He looks back to his very best, they shouldn’t underestimate him.
We’ve got ourselves a big breakaway stage in the Giro, but due to all the DNFs and riders protecting their GC leaders, the pool of potential winners is smaller than usual.
I’m expecting a break with Pinot, Van Wilder, Buitrago, Healy and maybe McNulty (if he doesn’t have to hold Almeida’s hand). Picking a winner from this group isn’t easy, but I’m going with Thibaut Pinot. I don’t see any gaps between the main GC riders.
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