If a picture says a thousand words the profile above says enough: a day for the sprinters as the race heads to the seaside resort of Jesolo. But this Giro brings a surprise every day and the odds on a breakaway surviving are higher than usual. The biggest obstacle is the tricky finish, described in the roadbook as “sprinkled” with roundabouts.
Stage 12 Wrap: It was another fast stage, no tailwind but a lot of motivated riders. Philippe Gilbert won “his” stage, he targeted this and said he knew “every metre” of the last 70km. He seemed nervous though, at one point going in a move in the final kilometres rather than banking on his trademark uphill punch. He was well clear of the others but Diego Ulissi had to expend a lot of energy to join the front group after being caught.
La battaglia every day. Here was another chance for Alberto Contador to stick it to Fabio Aru, the Italian said he’d run out of energy and the Italian tifosi are getting nervous: is Aru paying the price for his aggressive start? On the one kilometre uphill finish at Monte Berico (Mont Ibérico?) Contador got a small gap plus a time bonus to extend his lead over his rivals. Even on the small stages Contador is taking time, the other podium pretenders will be sleeping with one eye open in case the Spaniard gets the jump on them.
The Route: a short 147km stage. The profile says it’s for the sprinters but the precedent of the 2015 says otherwise. The Giro is rewarding breakaways and as we saw in Forlì if the bunch expects Lotto-Soudal to do all the work then a breakaway could stick. All this however depends on the peloton and the road to the finish is unremarkable. Watch the GC candidates as they all need to soft pedal today without incident or accident to stay fresh for tomorrow’s time trial.
The Finish: the biggest difficulty of the day is the finish which is littered with roundabouts, central dividing islands and other street furniture. As the race speeds around Jesolo it has to contend with a lot of central dividers, either we have two opposing trains on each side or the race just gets lined out on one side making for a narrow road. It’s the kind of finish that needs to be bossed by a team but is there anyone willing and able to do it?
The Contenders: a sprint? You’d think so but as we saw in Forlì even Greg Henderson had to contribute to the chase for Lotto-Soudal. The rest of the field were banking on the Belgian team to work all day but they couldn’t shoulder all the burden and so the break, thanks to hard work, stayed clear. The mere possibility of weak chase and peloton politics will motivate riders to go in the breakaway again and create a self-fulfilling scenario where several strong riders are willing to give it a go as opposed to some riders going away just for the desperate need to show the jersey.
Still if it comes down to a sprint André Greipel is the obvious pick, he’s got the form, pedigree and team and the trick finish lends itself to a team that can guide a rider into position. Sacha Modolo is another rider with the Lampre-Merida team at his service and he’s getting closer in the stages. By contrast Giant-Alpecin have a tradition of sprint lead outs but Luka Mezgec hasn’t impressed yet. Giacomo Nizzolo also has riders in service but seems to be sprinting hot and cold. Moreno Hofland by contrast is a very fast rider but doesn’t have the team support and Elia Viviani will probably have to fend for himself given Team Sky’s need to protect Richie Porte and Leopold König.
|Sacha Modolo, Giacomo Nizzolo, Moreno Hofland|
|Viviani, Mezgec, Porsev|
Weather: the race might visit a seaside resort but this is not a day for the beach. It’ll be wet and cold with a top temperature of 15°C. There will be a 20km/h breeze from the north east, a headwind for most of the stage until the race loops back for the finish, a tailwind in the final to heighten the crash risks.
The Giro is: missing the sprinters. Manuel Belletti and Matteo Pelucchi have left the race in recent days to shrink the field but this is more about the way the Giro didn’t start with a big list of sprinters, Marcel Kittel is still trying to find his legs, Mark Cavendish rode the Tour of California and Alexander Kristoff is riding his home Tour of Norway. Last year’s sensation Nacer Bouhanni is winning small races in France but nothing more. Meanwhile even a good Italian sprinter like Andrea Guardini can’t race his home grand tour because he’s surplus to requirements at Astana’s given their pink ambitions. In fact it’s practically once a year that we get a sprint royale among all the top sprinters at the Tour de France. It’s more common to find the likes of Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali racing together than it is to see the sprinters together.