The third and final stage of the Rás d’Italia heads to Dublin. More exposed roads, more rain and more sprinting awaits. As well as changing country the difference today is the weather with a crosswind to be exploited.
Stage 2 Wrap
A predictable win but not in the predictable manner. Marcel Kittel won but we’d imagined a textbook leadout from Giant-Shimano. Instead Kittel seemed too far back with 500 metres to go. But if he lost his lead out, he kept his cool and came through the final corner and started a long sprint to win with such ease that he had to sit up and celebrate. He’s now won stages in all three grand tours.
The rest of the stage saw the usual breakaway but it never got enough advantage for the four to believe in the win. As consolation Maarten Tjallingi was rewarded with the mountains jersey. Michael Matthews is the new race leader and he could hold the jersey for several days.
The Route: from Northern Ireland south to Dublin. The stage starts in the Shambles Market Square and the hills come early with Markethill at 32km and Fews Forest at 51km. If the same rider wins maximum points on each climb he will tie on points with Tjallingi. In case of a tie on points and the number of KoMs won then the rider with the better time on GC is the winner.
After the routes get flatter and follows much of the coastline south to the Irish capital. The roads are wide but again exposed and this time – see below – the wind will blow.
The Finish: flat but difficult. There are several right handers on the approach the finish. Look at the map above and after the race crosses the Liffey river they take the City Quay road before a right hand turn, the bend sweeps but it’s pinchpoint into the corner. Under the railway bridge and then a tricky chicane style left then right. The road kicks up to the line but the gradient should barely register.
The Scenario: another bunch sprint is on the cards. Orica-Greenedge have a jersey to defend and Giant-Shimano want a sprint and several other teams will fancy their chances. Expect an early breakaway. But the crosswinds? Kittel was caught out in the Tour de France on Stage 13.
The Contenders: who’d bet against Marcel Kittel? He won with ease yesterday but each sprint’s different. Nacer Bouhanni could find the tight finish to his advantage and as the photo shows, he behind Kittel yesterday but ahead of all the rest. Giacomo Nizzolo was third yesterday under his own steam while Elia Viviani was fourth. It’s still too early in the race to get Bayesian on the fastmen beyond confirming Kittel as the obvious pick.
Weather: cold and wet like yesterday but the thermometer will be a couple of degrees colder and the rain more showery… but the wind will be twice as strong. There will be a crosswind blowing from the west at 30km/h. This is enough to split the field. Will anyone try? Many teams would be foolish to give up the opportunity to eliminate some rivals.
TV: the race is on a variety of TV channels according to where you are in the world. Eurosport is covering the race across most of Europe. beIN SPORT has the rights in the US and France. I still haven’t seen the promised Gazzetta free stream but leave a comment below if you have to share with others. There’s cyclingfans.com and steephill.tv for TV schedules and pirate feeds and more.
Note the finish is expected for 4.10pm local time / 5.10pm Euro time. Tune in early for the scenery but the action should be condensed into the last 30 minutes.