The final mountain stage and a Dolomite roller coaster culminating in the finish on Monte Avena
Stage 19 Review: a big breakaway which was thinned down on the final climb, a lot of the participants didn’t have a chance on the slopes. Esteban Chaves kept attacking but the road wasn’t steep enough and each time the others got back to him, until they didn’t and he was finally away for a solo stage win. Andrea Vendrame came in second to remind us that cycling is a mechanical sport too, his dropped chain might have cost him the stage although if he’d kept it together perhaps Chaves could still have attacked again? Behind Miguel Angel Lopez jumped clear to take back 43 seconds on his rivals, a useful move and above all a sign that he’s climbing well so he should be a factor today.
The Route: 194km and the profile of a saw blade. The first climb is to the Cima Campo is a narrow climb for the breakaway to get clear on with 6-7% slopes and then a quick descent to drop into the Passo Manghen as it climbs above 2,000m.
The Manghen is a long pass, 19km at 7.6% and the hardest part is saved for the top with 10% and lots of hairpins. The descent is similar, steep at first and with more hairpins.
The Passo Rolle is a long and steady climb, all on a big road that’s well engineered and the descent is the same, they go down the same road that they climbed up for yesterday’s finish.
The Croce d’Aune is an irregular climb with changing gradients and steep top section, the ideal springboard for late attacks, especially as the descent is tricky and there’s no time to chase.
The Finish: there’s a brief descent via some hairpins and then it’s uphill for the final 7km, the gradient is 7-9% on the narrow, wooded road of the Col Melon until the final 150m which are flat.
The Contenders: Richard Carapaz (Movistar) has two stage wins but not one in the maglia rosa so he might like to have a go here. What will team mate Mikel Landa do? It’s hard to see him going rogue on the Manghen but if he wants to finish on the podium – and his team would like this too – he needs to take back 47 seconds on Primož Roglič and then more to build a buffer ahead of tomorrow’s TT and this sort of margin can’t be built on the final climb, he’d have to go at the foot of the Croce d’Aune… and leave Carapaz while Roglič and Nibali start to panic. It’s as likely we see Landa playing the team mate.
Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) jumped yesterday and nobody could follow. This steeper finish is a touch less his thing but he’s rediscovered his climbing legs. He might try a long range move, Astana have the team to send riders ahead in the breakaway and since he was third last year, securing the white jersey this time around isn’t a big deal, he might prefer to go big before going home.
What can Vincenzo Nibali do? He’s second on GC but could be overhauled by Roglič in tomorrow’s TT and can’t afford to lose more than a minute to Landa. Sit tight and hope Landa isn’t too lively until late? Or go big as well on the stage with a giant attack, perhaps using the descents? Easier said than done but he might well try because it’ll make the tifosi like him even more.
The breakaways have had plenty of chances so far but today’s it’s 50/50, they can go away but could find Astana and Bahrain-Merida setting the pace behind. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) has won a stage, secured the mountains jersey and could take the Cima Coppi prize atop the Passo Manghen. Joe Dombrowski (EF Education First) is having a good Giro although the long climbs early in the stage suit him more than the final, the same for team mate Hugh Carthy. Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott) can pick off stages like this but has been quiet of late after Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) got the better of him earlier.
|Miguel Angel Lopez, Mikel Landa|
|Giulio Ciccone, Richard Carapaz|
|Nibali, Carthy, Dombrowski, Nieve, Zakarin|
Weather: warm and sunny in the valleys with 26°C, cloudy and cool with the chance of rain in the mountains.
TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST / Euro time. The Passo Manghen starts around 1.00pm CEST and the final climbing around Monte Avena is around 4.15pm CEST.
It’s on RAI in Italy, Eurosport across most of Europe and Australia, L’Equipe TV in France and Flobikes and Fubo.tv in the US.