A hard day in the Apennines with the first summit finish of the race.
Tirannia Adriatica: the gods can be cruel, one day Mikel Landa was making one of his special attacks in the drops, and for once he made it stick and only a few could follow. The next day he crashed out of the Giro and was loaded into an ambulance. Landa’s fall was one of several, Joe Dombrowski went from second on GC to 48th, that’s if he stays in the race pending a concussion check. Pavel Sivakov is out of the race, ditto François Bidard of Ag2r Citroën who would have been tipped for the breakaway on mountain stages to come.
Little else happened on the stage but it was a hectic day for the riders as the inevitable sprint approached. Caleb Ewan was left without his full lead out but perhaps this was a stroke of luck as he surfed the wheels instead and won, surging past Giacomo Nizzolo.
The Route: 160km and 3,600m of vertical gain. It’s uphill from the start, a launchpad for the day’s breakaway but it could take longer for a move to form. Today’s stage sweeps past familiar places from Tirreno-Adriatico like Matelica and Castelraimondo on the way to the Forca Gualdo in the Monte Sibillini. There are 10% slopes early on and this is climb with a spaghetti western feel, a big wide road and in big wide country and passage across to the Forca di Presta with more climbing to the pass.
The descent is as long as it looks, 40km downhill and mostly on a big road, including some tunnels but with plenty of cracks and potholes.
The Finish: a 15km summit finish but it’s got gentle gradients for most of the way, there’s a lot of 4-5% at first, the kind of climb where riding a mountain train helps. The slope starts to bite with 5km to go and it’s over 7% from here to the finish.
The Contenders: a good day for a breakaway but the Israel team will want to keep De Marchi in pink and there are two ways of doing this, one is sending him up the road – and the form is there as long as he’s recovered from Monday – and the other is to chase today, not necessarily too hard but enough so that when the GC riders start hustling for the final climb the break is either brought back or contained. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) as ever comes to mind but is the form there? Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) will like the route and the chainring ratings below have a few breakaway suggestions.
Among the GC contenders Egan Bernal (Ineos) looked great in Sestola but that was on a 10% slope, here you’d think he’ll need more punch to get away but is looking easy so he’s the safe pick today. Simon Yates (Bike Exchange) is worth watching to see if he’s still showing the form he had in the Tour of the Alps, whether the seconds lost in Sestola’s were down to the cold or not.
|Mollema, Yates, Ciccone, Brambilla, Villella, Conti, Formolo|
Weather: a sunny day, 23°C in the valleys but cooler at altitude and it should stay dry.
TV: the start starts at 12.55pm CEST, the big Forca di Gualdo climb is from about 2.45pm onwards and if you tune in around 4.30pm you’ll get the final climb with the finish forecast for 5.15pm CEST.