Many in the peloton will have their mind on tomorrow’s big mountain stage, today’s stage visits Slovenia and could see another breakaway rewarded.
Lucky Lorenzo: Scroll down the GC at the Giro today and pick any modest water carrier you wouldn’t recognise if they sat next to you on a plane and chances are they still bossed the U23 ranks, collecting flowers, trophies and jerseys galore. But Lorenzo Fortunato? His last win was in 2016 in a local race and that was almost accidental as he’d broken away with a team mate – Vincenzo Albanese as it happens, his team mate today and breakaway companion – and they both sat up to share the win and lucky Fortunato was fractionally ahead to get the win. But that’s it and he got his pro contract on the back of consistent climbing rather than wins.
Fortunato had the luck to get in the breakaway, at first chased hard by Ineos but eventually let away and if the move managed to stick it was because both Bauke Mollema and George Bennett had made it across with a team mate in Jacopo Mosca and Edoardo Affini. They pulled so hard riders were being ejected from the breakaway on the valley roads. Fortunato though was tucked up like a passenger who’d been upgraded to first class. Jan Tratnik was the first from the break to attack, then Fortunato looked around and saw Mollema and Bennett were in trouble so he went, caught Tratnik and won the stage.
Astana win the boomerang prize, they had riders on the front for much of the day, they even tried an attack on the descent of Monte Rest but when it came to the Zoncolan Aleksandr Vlasov didn’t have the legs and lost over a minute to Bernal and slipped to fourth place. Simon Yates was strong and mentioned “it wasn’t the best of first weeks but now I’m feeling better” which part-explains things but if he’s feeling better, Bernal is still going better. The Colombian started the day with 45 seconds on his nearest rival and finished it with double that.
The Route: a short stage, 146km and 1,600m of vertical gain. There’s a start in Grado, a town on an island and then onto the hard climb of Monte San Michele in the carso, the karst plateau. A fast descent and then across the Slovenian border for laps of a circuit in both Italy and Slovenia, a route designed by football coach Edy Reja. There’s a KoM point after a two kilometre climb at over 8% but the climbing isn’t done, a quick descent and it rises up again but on a bigger road and in the big ring and then a fast descent down to the plains. This is repeated twice again. It’s not a hard circuit but it can be raced hard and the difficulty could be the weather as the descents can be slippery.
The Finish: a ride into Nova Gorica and then out, via a small unmarked climb with 500m at 12% and a quick descent and then across to Italy and to Gorizia, the Italian town. There’s a dash through the historic centre including some urban pavé.
The Contenders: today ought to have been perfect for Slovnian locals Jan Tratnik (Bahrain) but he was in the break yesterday (and Matej Mohorič who has crashed out). This looks like another “Sagan stage”, shorthand for a route that’s hilly enough to eject most of the sprinters while the Slovakian sits tight and wins the sprint, just like he did in Foligno. Only it could be too hilly to start with, he too risks being in trouble on the climbs and also the early break today is likely to be a strong one rather than the usual “4×4” of four riders kept at four minutes. So Bora-Hansgrohe have their work cut out… and that’s if they chase, riders like Emanuel Buchmann and his mountain helpers need every bit of energy for tomorrow. So Sagan himself might be better trying to get in the breakaway.
Among the others Andrea Vendrame (Ag2r Citroën) can strike again although he is an infrequent winner, Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo) can try again too. Hugh Carthy can spare Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First). Lotto-Soudal are down to three riders, they could send the team bus back to Belgium. But Thomas De Gendt was trying yesterday and Stefano Oldani is quick from a small group. Diego Ulissi (UAE Emirates) is an all-rounder with eight stage wins to his name.
|Peter Sagan, Diego Ulissi|
|Vendrame, De Bondt, Oldani, TDG, Brambilla, Bettiol, Gallopin, Cimolai|
Weather: overcast and the chance of rain, 18°C.
TV: the stage starts at 1.20pm, the circuits at around 3.00pm and the finish is forecast for 4.55pm CEST.