A stage along the Italian coast in two halves, the first is gelato-sweet, the second much saltier.
Arnaud Tremare: a nervous stage which saw the peloton split to pieces in the crosswinds early on but things came back together in time for the finish, although the bunch stayed nervous with several crashes, and an average speed over 51km/h. In the sprint Groupama-FDJ proved the strongest while other sprinters were fending for themselves, it was like watching an express train go up alongside someone on a pump trolley and Démare finished the job. He did this by moving to the right but it wasn’t a sudden switch and he left room fro Peter Sagan to overtake on either side but he couldn’t.
The Route: 200km and the first 100km are a spin along the coast. The climb midway marks the change, Monte Sant’Angelo is almost 10km at 6% with with plenty of 7%, it’s selective but a warm-up for what’s to come. From here on the road winds along the coast and it’s constantly rising and falling, twisting and turning.
The Finish: there’s a finishing circuit, there’s only one passage across the finish line but they almost ride two laps and crucially twice up the Via Saragat, a kilometre at 9.3% with a steep 15% section midway but crucially the slope keeps changing like a demented staircase, this means its hard to carry momentum and the sprinters risk paying for it. There’s a more gentle descent back down to the sea and the finish is flat, on the sea front.
The Contenders: another day for Arnaud Démare? The final climbs might be too much, the Via Saragat is awkward and much more so than the ramp in Matera although there’s more time to recover. Still Michael Matthews (Sunweb) is the prime pick today, he might not have a train from his team but the finish suits. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) can strike too. The breakaway has a chance but Groupama-FDJ, Sunweb and Bora-Hansgrohe will all chase. Diego Ulisso and Valerio Conti (UAE Emirates) can try to exploit the final climb to attack on.
|Peter Sagan, Arnaud Démare|
|Ballerini, Vendrame, Ulissi, Conti|
Weather: a calm day by the sea, 23°C and little wind.
TV: Monte Sant’Angelo starts just before 2.00pm CEST and the finish is forecast for 4.30pm.