A break or a bunch sprint? There’s a good chance the breakaway riders stay away on this stage, the longest of the race.
The Route: the longest stage of the race at 239km, now increased to 244km one of several stages to see the distance bumped up since the maps were published. What’s an extra five kilometres? Either way it’s almost enough for a one day Monument or the Worlds. It starts in Penne which is also what many riders could be eating for breakfast as they fuel for the day. But not too much and not too late otherwise they’ll be tasting it again for the opening climb, a serious ascent up the flanks of the Gran Sasso, 10km at 6% on a twisting, wooded road into the mountains but with steeper sections. It’s ideal for the breakaway to go clear.
The last climb of the day to Annifo is a a short bump over up to the hilltop village, a descent and then a brief unmarked climb up to Nocera Umbra.
The Finish: it’s flat and there’s a sharp right chased by a sharp left just before the 1km to go point but the road is wide as they tour the town’s industrial quarter before wide finishing straight.
The Contenders: a sprint or breakaway? There could be a tug of war, the flat finish is suitable for a bunch sprint but who will chase? Quick Step, EF Education First-Drapac and Bora-Hansgrohe but few others will want to join them and there could be a stand off between these three or they might try to place a rider into the day’s move.
Otherwise this is a stage that many will have marked for themselves, especially the heavier rouleurs who are at a disadvantage in the mountains. Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) comes to mind but seems less dominant and so a harder pick. Lars Bak (Lotto-FixAll), often a worker, could take his chance and Jürgen Roelandts and Alessandro de Marchi (BMC Racing) come to mind and Max Schachmann (Quick Step) is out of the white jersey but does he have room to ride for himself? There are many more contenders. Otherwise Elia Viviani is the obvious choice for the sprint.
|Bennett, Modolo, De Marchi, Bak, Martin, Roelandts|
Weather: rain and a top temperature of 19°C.
TV: Host broadcaster RAI offers the best coverage, Eurosport has the rights for many countries across Europe and Australia and it’s streamed via Fubo and Flobikes in the US and Dazn in Japan. The finish is forecast for 5.15pm.