Sabbio Chiese / Monte Bondone 204km
It might have taken 15 stages but we’re eventually going to get some GC action. A final week which is rammed full of mountains, it’s time for the big boys to come out to play. The final 140km of the stage contains 4806m of climbing, that’s huge!
Sunny and warm.
Passo Santa Barbara is the first climb of the day, and this cat 1 effort is important in the fight for the blue jersey.
Monte Bondone. The last time the Giro finished here was back in 2006 and Ivan Basso took a huge win. It’s not the steepest climb in the world, but it goes on forever, which will help to create big gaps.
Will it be another day for the breakaway? The flat start isn’t great news for skinny climbers wanting to make the break, but at this point in a grand tour, it can be a case of everyone who wants to be in the move making it. GC teams won’t be looking to chase moves down, it’s a case of being near the front for the neutral zone and having some teammates to help get you in the break. Once the move goes, we’ll have to see what the reaction is like back in the peloton. Ineos don’t have enough men to chase all day, Bahrain will likely have someone in the move as they want to win the team classification, so it’s down to UAE and Jumbo-Visma to chase. Neither have shown any interest in riding all day to set up a stage win, will that be about to change?
In terms of the breakaway riders, some will now have to remain in the bunch and ride for their team leaders, it’s important to remember that when deciding on which riders will go for the break. The KOM competition is also an important factor. Pinot is too close on GC to go for the break, the same can be said of Rubio after Sunday’s stage. Of the leading candidates for the blue jersey, Davide Bais and Ben Healy look the most likely to be trying to get up the road.
Once on the final climb, we’ll see the first shots fired in the battle for the pink jersey. Ineos might have three riders high on GC, but Arensman and De Plus aren’t serious threats to Roglič, he doesn’t need to worry about them. Roglič will have Sepp Kuss by his side, he’ll be the last domestique left standing, he’s worth his weight in gold in these stages. There’s been a lot of talk about the negative racing we’ve seen in this race, I think Roglič has been telling the truth about his recovery from his crash, but after a rest day, he should be better. If he can put time into his rivals in this stage, it sends out a big message for the rest of the week. Expect to see a big move from Primož, this is a great opportunity to move into pink and not look back.
Those a little further down on GC will hope that Roglič and Thomas mark each other, allowing them to sneak up the road. The TTs have left relatively big gaps, there’s a chance for someone sitting between 5th and 12th to gain some valuable time, this could be a very tactical finale.
Primož Roglič – this is his chance to strike. Is he 100%? That’s very hard to say, but he responded well to Almeida’s attack in Bergamo. Monte Bondone is a good climb for him, I think he’ll see this as a big chance to put Thomas under pressure.
Geraint Thomas – this is a big day for him. Thomas arrived here looking for the podium, but as the race developed over the first two weeks, he’s started to dream of winning the pink jersey. The Welshman is a classy bike rider, but can he really respond when Roglič goes full gas? I think it all depends on how strong Roglič is, we know that Thomas will be good, he’s very consistent.
João Almeida – starts the final week just 22 seconds behind Thomas, he’s in an excellent position. Finishing in the top 3 was his original goal, but as the race develops, he’s another who can now dream of pink. This should be a good climb for him, he’ll hope to follow the best and see if he can surprise them at the end.
Hugh Carthy – after two weeks of nothing, we now hit his terrain, the mountains are calling. It would have been better for Hugh if the opening two weeks had been harder, most of the GC riders are still fresh. Hugh is sitting in 12th on GC, by the end of this stage I hope to see him in the top 10 and looking up. The length of Monte Bondone is good for him, hopefully he attacks and takes the race to his rivals.
Ilan Van Wilder – he’ll look for the break at some point in the final week, but will it be this stage? He’s 7:32 down on GC, that’s enough to be allowed to go for the break, hopefully he takes a risk and goes for the morning move.
Ben Healy – I think he’ll have freedom to go for the break and the KOM jersey, Cepeda should be the man to stay with Carthy. He’s in brilliant form, a second stage win wouldn’t be a surprise.
Joe Dombrowski – loves the third week of a grand tour. Astana don’t have a GC rider to protect, which frees Joe up to attack.
Lorenzo Fortunato – arrived at the Giro in great form after performing well in Tour of the Alps and winning Vuelta Asturias, but he’s been very quiet throughout this race. Maybe he’s been saving all his matches for the final week.
Warren Barguil – crashed hard early in the race but has started to look like his old self. He’s got a good chance of taking a win at some point this week, he’ll hope to start with a big bang.
Matthew Riccitello – Israel – Premier Tech have enjoyed a brilliant race, they deserve a win. Looking at the mountains in this stage, their young American looks like the best option. He might only be 21, but he’s got the quality to challenge for the win.
Groupama – FDJ won’t chase the break, and I don’t think anyone else will help them in the opening half of the stage. The chance of the break winning is up to them, they need to go hard and build a big gap before the final climb, as the GC group will fly up it. Monte Bondone is over 20km long, the break will need a big gap to survive, I’m not sure they’ll make it.
At long last I think this is a GC day and I’m going for Primož Roglič.