The tappone we’ve been waiting for, a huge amount of vertical gain in a short space, we’ll see if this is enough to reshape the top three overall and more. There’s always Monte Lussari tomorrow to settle things.
The Legend of Zoldo: the best stage so far? A few early flurries for the breakaway saw Ben Healy try to get away but as soon as they hit the first climb of the day he was going backwards and a group with Thibaut Pinot, Filippo Zana, Warren Barguil and the indefatigable Derek (de) Gee(ndt) among those away. It was a small group and once clear of the Passo Crosetta they had 80km of lumpy roads across the plateau to stay clear, not easy but the three big teams in Ineos, UAE and Jumbo-Visma didn’t want to chase too hard, and perhaps they couldn’t either. They just had to contain the group with Pinot sitting six minutes down on GC. All day Pinot took max points on the climbs to get back in the blue jersey… except at the finish. When the breakaway hit the final climb to Coi, Pinot pulled away with Zana. The pair came to the finish together and the Frenchman seemed to get “finish line fever”, launching his sprint the moment he came around the last bend to see the finish arch looming and Zana was able to come past for the win. Zana’s not a star in Italy yet but the national champ winning a mountain stage is a big triumph and just the sort of result people were hoping from Giulio Ciccone, only Zana delivers.
Meanwhile we got a second race behind for GC. After Roglič’s wobble on Monte Bondone, he was on the attack this time it and was João Almeida’s turn to lose a few seconds. Almeida wasn’t losing much ground though and at one point on the descent from Coi he looked to be getting back on with help from team mate Jay Vine, only for Vine to crash and slow his leader and he lost 21 seconds at the finish.
Roglič is back in the game but if you want to look into the details, yesterday’s ascent was just his kind of climb with its steep corners. How will he fare today? More certain is that Geraint Thomas is the steadiest so far… or it’s his turn to lose time today?
The Route: 183km within which they’ve managed to get 5,400m of vertical gain. It’s a gradual ride uphill from the start to Arraba, gradually harder as the race approaches the foot of the Passo Pordoi, before a right turn and the Campolongo instead. From here on it’s non-stop Alpine action, a Dolomite derby, there’s no valley sections in between. The Valparola’s nothing fierce compared to what’s coming.
The Giau is a hard climb with 10km at almost 10% and passing the 2,000m barrier. If it’s not the theatre of attacks, it’ll sap many riders and see some dropped.
The Finish: three is the magic number as the final climb is really three separate climbs.
- First the Passo Tre Croci or Three Crosses Pass. This is a big regular road where the sections tip up to 8-9% at times meaning riders are on their own, the benefits of sheltering on a wheel are gone
- The short but steep Col Sant’Angelo which is followed by a false flat and brief descent
- The final climb to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the Three Peaks of Laveredo. The final four kilometres average 12% but reach 18% at several points and rated by Eddy Merckx as one of the hardest climbs he ever did. It’s well surfaced, a wide road but exposed
- It’s also the revised Cima Coppi. As a finish line summit finish it’s 50 points already though.
The Contenders: Once you get to the third week of a grand tour those riders making moves one day can often repeat them. So Filippo Zana (Jayco-Al Ula) comes to mind, he’s no threat overall.
Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) has got even less room to go clear as he’s now seventh overall. Indeed we might see his team at work today because they won’t want to see Ben Healy (EF Education-Easypost) go clear given there’s 166 points available if a rider can cross all the passes first today, or just 98 points for the first three passes.
Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) will see his contract up soon and his team are said to be interested in Benoît Cosnefroy, a win here would boost his leverage.
Two regular tips but Jeferson Cepeda (EF) has gone quiet since his third place in Crans Montana and Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain) has done even less but it’s their last chance.
Otherwise Geraint Thomas (Ineos) is consistent but can he win a stage? Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) was back in the action yesterday, can he repeat on these long climbs at altitude? Probably and we’ll see if João Almeida (UAE) can turn things around.
|Roglič, Barguil, Zana|
|Thomas, Buitrago, Almeida, Fortunato, Rubio, Konrad|
Weather: sunny but cooler for the second half, 16°C in the valleys and clouds could build up and rain.
TV: KM0 is at 11.50, the Passo Giau starts around 3.30pm and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST.