A long flat stage until the finish when everything changes. After 200km of procession across the plains of the Po valley the finish features a tough climb, a twisty descent and then plenty of ups and downs, just enough to spoil the day for the sprinters.
Stage 10 Review: a stage win for Bardiani-CSF’s Guilio Ciccone. He made the day’s breakaway and proved to be stronger than team mate Stefano Pirazzi who was reduced to marking Damiano Cunego. It was only months ago that Ciccone was riding for amateur team Colpack, one of the two teams that dominate the Italian U23 scene. He’s from the Abruzzo region and bizarrely was asked if he was related to the popstar Madonna, aka Louise Ciccone, in the post-stage press conference. Bardiani-CSF announced their sponsorship renewal for two more years and have a dream of an Italian team in the World Tour filled with young riders from central and southern Italy like Ciccone. Of course all teams seem compelled to announce ambitions for fear of looking stagnant as, like a bicycle, things start to fall down when momentum runs out.
Earlier in the day, a tale of contrast. The stage was marked by the surprise withdrawal of Mikel Landa, Team Sky’s leader and probably on a salary bigger than the Bardiani budget. Landa was telling the media on the start line he might attack but apparently inside his guts were sloshing around. If you’re feeling rough you have to fake confidence otherwise Astana and Movistar will ride the first climb at warp speed to ruin your day… only no sooner was Landa was spotted amid the column of team cars did Astana get to work. Sky are orphaned without Landa now and the race lost a genuine contender. Later Astana used the climb to the Pian del Falco to eliminate more riders, notably Gianluca Brambilla and it put Bob Jungels in the maglia rosa.
The Route: the profile looks like a table cloth that hasn’t quite been ironed in full and has a wrinkly edge. After a long and featureless start across the Adige and Po valleys, a long day past fields of wheat and corn that help to make all that pasta and polenta.
Just as the race reaches the town of Asolo, today’s finish, it heads east to the town of Maser – more about this town later today – it takes a hard climb, the Forcella Mostaccin.
It’s 2.9km at 9% and as the profile shows it has its steeper moments although good luck finding that 16% section, it’s probably on just there if you take the inside of a hairpin bend. What the profile doesn’t show is just how narrow the road is, two cars would have to check themselves to pass. It twists and turns on its way up.
Once at the top there’s 19km to go, normally fine for dropped sprinters to get back on but this is no normal finish. Instead the road drops down with a twistier, steeper road. Once the descent is done the obstacles continue with more lumpy roads and a long series of bending roads to render any chase difficult.
The Finish: with five kilometres to go the road rears up for a climb of over one kilometre at 7% before another twisty descent, this time on a wider road but that barely makes it any easier. Finally a flat road to the finish line.
The Contenders: can André Greipel hang on? I don’t think so, the finish here is too hilly and twisty and the bunch is likely to split apart. This means a lot of other sprinters are going to be in distress too but we never know, if the last climb is taken easily and especially if no team picks up the pace afterwards then Greipel still has a decent chance. The same for Arnaud Démare and Kristian Sbaragli who can manage a climb or two.
Sonny Colbrelli (pictured) is the safer pick for Bardiani-CSF to take a second stage win. Billed here before as a budget version of Peter Sagan that’s no slander but a compliment as he can scale sharp climbs and has a powerful finish, this would be a late birthday present.
The local pick is Enrico Battaglin who hails from just down the road. The ex-Bardiani rider has won in the Giro before, notably denying the serpentine Danilo Di Luca once, but seemed to have vanished within Lotto-Jumbo saying the team was fine but finding the Dutch language impenetrable. He emerged to take fifth place in the stage to Foligno last week, the hilly finish won by Greipel. Battaglin climbs well and probably knows every slope, bend and tree in the finish today.
Etixx-Quickstep are having a roaring Giro and Matteo Trentin could deliver a result. He’s almost a local as well. Ramūnas Navardauskas gets a chainring below as he can sprint well after a long day but this might not be hard enough for him.
Beyond these names there’s the big chance a breakaway sticks. The sprinters teams can bank on tomorrow’s flat route so few will chase today. Up to you to pick the random rider who can join a move and help power it clear and then have the energy for the hills and then the finish. Not an easy pick but there’s a long list of flat earth society members who have almost no chance when the mountains arrive soon, think Daniel Oss and Stefan Küng of BMC Racing, Ag2r’s Blel Kadri and IAM’s Vegard Stake Laengen as examples.
|Enrico Battaglin, Sonny Colbrelli
|Navardauskas, Trentin, Greipel
Weather: sunshine and clouds with a top temperature of 21°C. Curiously the warmest weather in the Giro so far has been in the Netherlands.
TV: the finish is forecast for, you guessed it, 5.10pm Euro time. They reach Asolo and head out for the hilly loop at 4.20pm.
Eurosport is covering the race across most of Europe. beIN SPORT has the rights in the US and France while Italian host broadcaster RAI offers the best coverage with experienced commentators as well as roving reporters on motorbikes to add extra coverage. As ever cyclingfans.com, cyclinghub and steephill.tv are the go-to sites for schedules and pirata feeds.