Roma > Roma 126km
It’s the final stage of the race and we’ve got ourselves a sprint in Rome. The lap circuit is very similar to the one used in 2018, when Sam Bennett took the win from Elia Viviani. There’s a lot of wide roads, a few cobbles and a couple of kickers. In 2018, the GC riders were allowed to roll over the line at their pleasure, times were taken far out from the finish. I’m assuming this won’t happen again, but you never know in this race. This is a nervous day for Jumbo-Visma, the roads in this part of the world aren’t the best, Roglič isn’t safe until he crosses the finishing line.
Sunny and hot.
Lots of wide roads makes moving up the bunch quite easy. The circuit is a fast one, and there’s quite a few corners to help line things out.
We’ll see a small group of riders jump off the front and the bunch will attempt to gradually real them in. Surprises do happen, back in 2015 Keisse and Durbridge held off the chasing pack in Milan, but these surprises are very rare in the final stage of a grand tour.
Movistar and Astana are the teams with most to gain, neither Cavendish nor Gaviria have got close to a stage win yet. They’ll do a lot of the controlling, but as the GC battle is over, teams can now use all riders to help manage the break and prepare the sprint. In the last sprint stage, Jayco and DSM were the ones who nailed the lead out, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see something similar in this stage.
Jonathan Milan – he needs to have a much better position for the sprint. I’ve not been the only one to compare him to Kittel, his violent sprinting style is like the German, unfortunately he’s also just as bad at positioning as the big man was. Milan is fast, but he’s not Kittel fast, to win more stages he needs to start his sprint near the front. It’s not all on his shoulders, Sutterlin and Pasqualon need to do more in the closing stages. I don’t want to sound too negative, Milan has enjoyed a wonderful race, far above anyone’s expectations, but if I were him, I’d want more.
Alberto Dainese – got his win Carole, which was well deserved as DSM nailed the lead out. With Mayrhofer and Märkl in front of him, Dainese will expect to be in the mix for another win. I thought he was very clever the other day, he knew they’d hit the front just a little too early, so he eased off and got back on Matthews’ wheel, before surging past in the closing metres. He’ll start this stage as one of the men to beat.
Michael Matthews – I didn’t think he had the speed to win a bunch sprint, but his performance in Carole has made me change my mind. With many sprinters feeling tired, Matthews now seems able to sprint fast enough to challenge for the win. Also in his favour is a strong lead out, Stewart, Pöstlberger and Hepburn can do some damage in the final 3km. I still wouldn’t have Matthews as one of the big favourites, but he certainly has a chance.
Pascal Ackermann – he’s enjoyed the three weeks, not only does he have a stage win, but he’s been climbing incredibly well. Ackermann has lacked support in the final 3km of sprint stages, but now that the GC is settled, UAE should throw all their resources behind Ackermann in the hope of winning another stage.
Mark Cavendish – it’s not been a great race for Cavendish, this is what happens when you don’t bring a sprint train. He’s got the speed to win, but he needs a better position in the final 2km, and I think he also needs to be more aggressive. It’s only natural, that as a sprinter gets older, they lose a bit of their risk-taking behaviour in the closing stages. For Cavendish to win, he needs to be right at the front in the finale, he can no longer come from deep.
Fernando Gaviria – 5th, 6th and 7th are his best results in this race, that just isn’t good enough when you consider his sprinting speed. I’m still waiting for him and Kanter to click, they have the potential to do something special, but I’m losing faith.
Arne Marit – reckons he could have won in Carole but suffered a mechanical when he tried to launch his sprint. When you hear him interviewed, he comes across as a confident guy, something you need as a sprinter. If he gets a little luck in the finale, he could surprise.
Jake Stewart – hopefully we get to see Jakey mix it up in the sprint. Groupama – FDJ still have a good sprint train to support him, they’ve got what it takes to cause a surprise.
Derek Gee – breakaway hopeful number 1. The sensation of the race, hopefully he rolls the dice one last time.
Laurenz Rex – breakaway hopeful number 2. Got the grunt required to hold off the bunch.
The wide roads in the finale means we’ll get a messy sprint.
I’ll go with the sprinter who seems to still look relatively fresh. A win for Pascal Ackermann.