The final stage of the Giro. This year’s edition has seen a daily battles and drama but this is surely a procession into Milan. Still there’s a sprint finish and the points jersey is up for grabs.
Stage 20 Wrap: the Colle delle Finestre delivered what it promised. Ilnur Zakarin survived the early breakaway and took flight on the pass and was only caught by Mikel Landa near the top with the Basque taking the Cima Coppi prize. Landa’s move had split the lead group and Alberto Contador was the big loser on the slopes, his dancing style rendered ineffective on the gravel slopes. He seemed to wince as the attacks were going – as if cramp struck but he didn’t stop pedalling – and whatever it was he could not follow the pace. There was no panic given he was ahead by minutes on the general classification but he looked nervous on the descent, sprinting out of the hairpin bends with his hands on top of the brake hoods. On the main road to Sestriere he got into time trial mode and managed the moment, crossing the line with a fist pump celebration. It was a rare moment of vulnerability.
Fabio Aru won the stage, Astana’s fifth stage win so far but it was a chaotic day for the Kazakhstan crew. Landa’s sprint for the Cima Coppi reduced Zakarin’s day long efforts to nothing so the Russian refused to work with Landa on the road to Sestriere. They quarrelled and were duly caught. Landa attacked from the lead group only to find Aru jumping on his wheel. After another day on the offensive Ryder Hesjedal moved up two places to fifth overall while Yuri Trofimov fell from sixth to tenth overall, just 23 seconds behind Alex Geniez, the Colossus of Rodez.
The Route: a flat procession from Turin to Milan across the Po plains and its rice fields. The race passes the Milan Expo site and then does seven laps of a 5.4km circuit past the Vigorelli velodrome with the finish line on the Corso Sempione.
The Finish: flat and wide with the finishing straight almost 1km long.
The Contenders: Giacomo Nizzolo reckons he’s cursed after several second place finishes but the truth is he’s not enjoyed the lead out that Sacha Modolo gets the Lampre-Merida team but now he’s on home soil and has targetted this stage for some time. Among the other sprinters Elia Viviani and Moreno Hofland both have the speed to win while Luza Mezgec had a quiet Giro last year but popped up to win the final stage, boosted by the proximity to his home in Slovenia.
|Giacomo Nizzolo, Sacha Modolo|
|Hofland, Mezgec, Haussler|
Weather: sunshine and clouds with a top tempature of 24°C.
The Giro is: the Tour. As great as this year’s Giro has been, Contador’s win is being viewed as a stepping stone to the Tour de France. He’s yet to win the Giro but already the talk in Sestriere was about his chances for the Tour, recovery and more. It’s a problem for the sport when triumph in such a wonderful race is celebrated but chased by questions of what comes next. Does tennis view a victory at Rolland Garros for its significance for Wimbledon?