Carpi > Bologna 205km
Well then, quite a lot has happened since my last preview, most of it isn’t good. We’ve got two of the best teams in the world looking to merge, with terrible consequences for most riders at Soudal – QuickStep, and one of the best riders in the peloton allowed to leave Jumbo-Visma. Mergers, or in this case a takeover, are never good in sport. Jumbo are clearly struggling to attract sponsorship, even with Amazon rumoured as a new partner, it’s a bad sign when the most successful team can’t get enough sponsors to continue. Anyway, you’re here to read my preview, so time to get on with it. Giro dell’Emilia has long been one of my favourite races of the year. Back in the old days, it was a fight between the Italians as the start list wasn’t the strongest, this has all changed in recent years. The race now has the start list is deserves, as many look to find some form before Lombardia. The route is very familiar, San Luca is the main feature, a real beauty of a climb. I’ve promised myself that one day I’ll be on those slopes, but it’s not this year.
A beautiful day, lots of sunshine and temperatures around 25 degrees.
This is the climb before the lap circuit, it’s a tough one. Hit it hard, drop some riders and put fatigue into the legs of the best.
Four full laps of the circuit, five times up San Luca. The descents are fast, the little kicker of 800m at 5.5% also adds some spice, but it’s all about 2.1km at 9.8%, with a maximum of 20.2%.
UAE started the season looking to win the best team prize, and it seems like their plans have been carefully thought out. In recent weeks they’ve picked off many wins and now sit in a strong position, but they want to seal the deal. They arrive here with a ridiculously strong team, it’s almost unfair for everyone else, they will decide the type of race we get.
I would imagine they’ll hit every climb hard, looking to drop as many domestiques as possible. With Großschartner, Vine, Ulissi and Majka, they have the riders to make this a very hard race, leaving Pogačar, Ayuso and Adam Yates as their main cards. I don’t think anyone has the team to stop them, everyone else will have to sit in and hope UAE make mistakes.
Once on the lap circuit, the attacks will come, there’s no point of UAE riding defensively. With three protected riders, they can attack in the final 3 laps and put pressure on everyone else. The others will have to hope that it all comes back together for the final ascent of San Luca, I have my doubts.
Tadej Pogačar – DNF in 2021, 2nd place in 2022, there’s not many one-day races he’s not won after two attempts. This year he’s changed his route into this race, taking a nice break after Worlds and then riding two Italian races as preparation. In those two races he was far from his best, but was still able to finish 4th and 3rd, he was there to get some racing in the legs before the coming week where he looks to win his 3rd Lombardia title. That is the big goal, not this race, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be winning here. It all depends on how the race develops, but with so many options, it’s not all about Tadej, he can ride with freedom. Is this the year he adds Emilia to his palmarès?
Adam Yates – he’s held his form very well since the Tour, he was 3rd in Burgos and took a brilliant win in Montréal. He loves punchy climbs; this is a race that suits him very well. If it was a straight fight between him and Roglič I don’t think he’d win, but if UAE use their numbers, Yatesy has a great chance of taking the win.
Primož Roglič – his head must be all over the place, making it very difficult to focus on training and the coming week of racing. Riders coming out of the Vuelta normally have an advantage here, and Primož was going to be my favourite, but not now. He was clearly pissed off at not being able to go for the red jersey, and the impending merger seems to have hastened his exit from Jumbo-Visma. He now faces the prospect of racing for a team that no longer wants him, that’s difficult from a psychological point of view. Also, his team isn’t the strongest, they are going to be blown away by UAE.
Enric Mas – the defending champion, but does he have the same legs as last year? He was good at the Vuelta, but not as strong as last year, it’s unlikely we’ll see him repeat last year’s achievement.
Aleksandr Vlasov – another former winner, he won the COVID edition in 2020. He’s another who comes from the Vuelta, where he performed well, but not great. He’s got what it takes to challenge for the top 5, but winning will be hard.
Ilan Van Wilder – solid option for the top 10, he’s performed well this season, top 5 would be an exceptional ride considering the level of competition.
Simon Yates – he’s going well, but not at his very best. He’s another who’ll be fighting for the top 10 but won’t be able to stop UAE.
Pavel Sivakov – currently riding very well, he’s got a good chance of challenging for the podium. Ineos must be wondering why they let him go.
UAE to take the win, but which of one of their stars will cross the line first? I’ll go for Adam Yates.