A flat day promised to the sprinters only there are now so few left in the race that their teams could struggle to contain the breakaways that exploit the hilly first half of the stage.
The Route: the race slip out of the mountains with a few hills along the way. The first bump along the way to Bondo at 35km is uphill but on the main valley road and a 5% drag. Later on the Passo Sant’Eusebio is a steady road, 5km at 4% and then a longer, gentler descent to the intermediate sprint in Brescia where the race picks up the plains of Lombardia and it’s flat all the way to the finish.
The Finish: flat. The race crosses the Adda river to arrive in town and there’s a right hand bend through a roundabout with 600m to go and then a straight flat route to the finish line.
The Contenders: who is left? Many sprinters have gone but before the race started today looked like a day for Giacomo Nizzolo has he is one of the locals, hailing just to the north of the finish. He’s wearing the red jersey and has been sprinting among the best although as ever a win is elusive, he’s one of those regular riders with an odd distribution of finishing places, so many placings yet almost no wins.
If someone can put Nizzolo into second place late in the race then it’s Sacha Modolo who did just that a year ago. He is again the big rival for Nizzolo, the Lampre-Merida rider seems a touch slower than last year but has featured in the sprints so far. He’s not a local but his team are, Lampre’s team headquarters are only 20km away which is an added motivation for management to insist the whole team is deployed today.
Among the others is a long tail but nobody seems as convincing. But that’s partly because they’ve been distanced by the powerful sprint trains and without the big name sprinters we could have a more hectic sprint. Katusha’s Alexander Porsev has finished no lower than seventh in the sprints so far so he’s the next pick. Dimension Data’s Kristian Sbaragli took a Vuelta stage last year, Heinrich Haussler is making job applications. Manuel Belletti is Wilier’s sprinter but needed medical treatment at the finish yesterday, hopefully a temporary trouble but it doesn’t help his chances today. Finally if André Greipel’s gone home his train remains and they could ferry Jurgen Roelandts or Pim Ligthart, the latter has won bunch sprints before too.
What chance a breakaway? On paper the stage looks perfect for the sprinters but because there are so few of them left in the race it means fewer teams are going to work all day. Etixx-Quickstep and Lotto-Soudal won’t work and unlike the early stages of the race the maglia rosa‘s team won’t be too worried about trying to contain anyone either. So all the non-climbers left in the race know they’ve got a shot at a stage win today and if enough try they can disrupt Trek-Segafredo and Lampre-Merida’s plans.
|Porsev, Sbaragli, Haussler, Ligthart|
Weather: sunny, 24°C and a light 25km/h headwind.
TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm Euro time.
Eurosport is covering the race across most of Europe. beIN SPORT has the rights in the US and France while Italian host broadcaster RAI offers the best coverage with experienced commentators as well as roving reporters on motorbikes to add extra coverage. As ever cyclingfans.com, cyclinghub and steephill.tv are the go-to sites for schedules and pirata feeds.