The first of two days in the Dolomites. If this was a music festival, today would see the band playing their new heartfelt acoustic tunes to an expectant audience who really want tomorrow’s Dolomite greatest hits, the stadium rock tracks like the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
Postcard from Caorle: Ciao, we fled the mountains to get some sea and sunshine. It was pizzoccheri weather earlier but by the time we got to the Caorle it was gelato time. We were stood by the barriers with 400m to go and saw Alberto Dainese overtaken by others but it turned out he was more patient and came around everyone for an Italian win. After the finish we saw the maglia rosa Thomas Geraint doing his warm-down on his time trial bike because he’s thinking about Saturday’s stage. Wish you were here…
The Route: 161km and 3,700m of vertical gain. There’s 25km across the Veneto plains before the race collides with the Alps. The first climb is the Passo Crosetta is 11km at 7% but with a softer start and finish most of the ascent is over 8%, a selective start. The bump on the profile to Pieve d’Alpago is a drag on a wide road.
The Forcella Cibiana has a steep start out of the valley and then a hard second half but all on a regular road up to the pass.
The Finish: there are three parts to the climb, first the main valley road through Forno di Zoldo and Dont, with the previous descent done this place allows teams to get into position, riders to eat and drink. The second part is the hardest, a right turn into a narrow backroad with 3.4km at over 10% to the village of Coi. There’s a descent out of the village, still on the same small road but with nothing wild. The third part sees the race route back on the main road again and there’s a series of hairpin bends before the slope eases in the final kilometre.
The Contenders: breakaway or GC riders? Jumbo-Visma rode down the breakaway on Tuesday, this time they might hold back so have more numbers for later. Ineos don’t have so many riders to pull all day. UAE? They could put on a show on of strength here but equally seem happy to let a rider or two of their own go in the breakaway although now’s the time to have Formolo, McNulty and Vine beside Almeida.
Breakaway picks are Jefferson Cepeda and Ben Healy (EF Education-Easypost). Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) might be a popular pick but he’s still not far down on GC to get much room, plus his form’s in question, he was dropped from the GC group on Monte Bondone and note he was also ejected on the climb into Bergamo so he’s perhaps less sparkling than in the second week. Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain) came into the Giro in top form but hasn’t had results to show although now we’re on terrain to suit. Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) might find today’s shorter climbs suit more than tomorrow’s Tre Cime finish. Ilan Van Wilder (Soudal-Quickstep) is riding well, to the point he might forsake the breakaway so he can test himself against the GC group. Carlos Verona (Movistar) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) fit the bill – a lot of the field doesn’t – but they don’t look scintillating right now.
Among the GC contenders, João Almeida (UAE) has a stage already and today’s finish features a finish that levels out before the line. Geraint Thomas (Ineos) should be close and all eyes are on Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) if only to see how he gets on. Eddie Dunbar (Jayco-Al Ula) is riding high but how to beat the three names cited ahead of him?
|Roglič, Cepeda, Healy, Buitrago, Verona, Van Wilder|
Weather: sunshine and clouds, typically 21°C in between the climbs but an outside chance of rain if the clouds build up.
TV: KM0 is at 12.30mp the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST.