A procession and a sprint, that’s the usual formula for the final stage of a grand tour. Last year saw a breakaway stick and with so few sprinters left in the race it could happen again.
Stage 20 Review: Vincenzo Nibali only needed 44 seconds so he and his Astana team could afford to wait until the last mountain pass, the the Col de la Lombarde before testing Esteban Chaves. As they scaled the Lombarde Tinkoff were replaced by Astana on the front of the now depleted maglia rosa group. Michele Scarponi upped the pace and was grimacing with the effort, as were the others including a visually disturbed Esteban Chaves, the cherubic smile long gone. Scarponi pulled until the ski resort and was finished. It looked too early, he dropped Nibali off just as they were on a flatter part of the climb but no matter. Nibali picked up the pace and only Chaves and Alejandro Valverde could follow. That’s all they could do as Nibali spun the pedals and then a gap opened up. Five seconds, ten seconds, the gap was opening up. You could see it but you needed a stopwatch to measure it as there were no on-screen graphics. It was soon clear Chaves wasn’t managing this, he didn’t let Nibali surge only to reel him back in. While Nibali picked up help from team mate Tanel Kangert, Chaves hooked up with compatriot Rigoberto Urán but the duo didn’t last long as Chaves lost more ground. As Nibali rode into Italy he was the virtual race leader. Ahead Rein Taaramäe won the stage and Mikel Nieve’s early raid saw him collect enough points to take the mountains jersey from Damiano Cunego.
The Route: a ride out of the Alps from Cuneo and eight laps of a finishing circuit around Turin. Unusually this circuit includes a hill just after the finish line. It’s 750m long and averages 6% and climbs up in long straight line. Then the road meanders gently downhill.
The Finish: after the 1km to go sign the race turns right with 750m to go, then flicks left and a flat 600m finishing straight awaits.
The Contenders: Trek-Segafredo would love to win this and Segafredo especially given Torino is the home of Lavazza, the coffee giant that is Segafredo’s great rival. Giacomo Nizzolo would really want to win because of all those runner-up positions. His chances are boosted further by the absence of more sprinters, Manuel Belletti quit the other day. But what if this is bad news for Nizzolo. It means yet another team without a chance in the sprint so they’ll attack instead. The other obvious pick is Sacha Modolo who has also ran close but not got the win he wants. Lampre can go all for him. Giant-Alpecin’s Nikias Arndt is going well and good for a long, seated sprint, Matteo Trentin can aim for a second stage win and Katusha’s Alexander Porsev seems to finish among the best in each sprint even if a win seems unlikely. Heinrich Haussler could give it a go but he’d surely prefer a harder finish with a hill or some cobbles? The same for Sonny Colbrelli.
So who for the breakaway contenders? Katusha’s Anton Vorobyev, Orica-Greenedge’s Michael Hepburn. Roger Kluge might find the finishing circuit too hilly so Filippo Pozzato is the third breakaway pick.
|Giacomo Nizzolo, Sacha Modolo|
|Arndt, Porsev, Pozzatto|
Weather: cool and cloudy with a top temperature of 19°C and with rain showers clearing.
TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm Euro time.