A trip out of the mountains to the sea. The profile screams a sprint stage but the mix of riders left could change all of this.
The Bondone reveal: a big breakaway with Aurélien Paret-Peintre and Jack Haig, 13th and 17th on GC, plus Ben Healy who took a lead in the mountains competition but he’d pay for his sprints by the final climb. Jumbo-Visma were the most active all day including setting the pace at the foot of Monte Bondone, the final climb of the day. But once Rohan Dennis was done there was nobody else to pick up the pace.
UAE took over and their train set up João Almeida for an attack. Once his acceleration was over he was only a few metres clear and wasn’t pulling away. But that’s what he often does, only usually a few metres behind, this time he was dangling off the front. He wasn’t taking time but this put pressure on the chasers, Sepp Kuss tried to limit the damage the effort would soon cause Roglič to crack, a fissure more than a shattering.
With Almeida a few lengths clear Geraint Thomas floated across and the pair slowly pulled out time on Roglič, inscrutable as he span a low gear but perceivably losing time. Almeida won the stage after a two-up sprint with Geraint Thomas, with the Welshman taking the maglia rosa and the pair finishing 25 seconds ahead of the surprise duo of Primož Roglič and Eddie Dunbar. Surprise as in Roglič had been dropped on the climb, and because Dunbar was fourth on the day, and up to fifth overall.
Andreas Leknessund and Bruno Armirail have been more than clothes horses in this Giro, but still they’ve been storing the maglia rosa on their shoulders while it’s been destined for others, and their time was always going to be up come the third week. Sure enough they fell down the GC and we’ve now got an obvious trio for the podium.
Thomas leads with 18 seconds on Almeida and 29 seconds on Roglič, slender margins given a time bonus or two can change plenty and Monte Lussari can overturn everything. These seem to be our podium candidates given Damiano Caruso is fourth overall at 2m50s. The current podium order looks the most plausible. Thomas leads although he’s down to four team mates with Sivakov out if he wants to defend. Almeida seems confident and energetic but how to get ahead? Roglič isn’t done yet but did look a level below, saying he’s still sore from his crash last week, will the fatigue keep adding up… or is today going to be just the tonic?
The Route: 197km out of the mountains to the Adriatic seaside.
The Finish: flat but with some corners in town. The section of road with the 2km banner is narrow.
The Contenders: a sprint? The profile screams one but it’s the third week of the race where many are tired but some riders are keen, almost desperate, as it’s today or nothing if they know a summit finish is out of reach. Also there are fewer sprinters left in the race so less chasing power, more so since some teams with sprinters have other ambitions as well, riders deployed to chase today might be worth more tomorrow and beyond for their GC ambitions, think UAE and Bahrain.
If a sprint is the base case, the hard part is picking a winner as there’s no hierarchy to the sprints, nobody looks superior especially as Kaden Groves and Mads Pedersen have left the race. Pascal Ackermann (UAE) has won and remains in the race. Mark Cavendish (Astana) is still here and has been looking quicker each sprint. Fernando Gaviria (Movistar) feels more of a random pick sometimes. Jonathan Milan (Bahrain) has the brute force but has he got the deft skills? DSM have two sprinters but Alberto Dainese is probably quicker for a dragstrip finish.
Breakaway picks are Laurenz Rex (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-Easypost) and Nico Denz (Bora-hansgrohe).
|Milan, Ackermann, Cavendish|
|Gaviria, Dainese, Denz, Bettiol, Rex|
Weather: rain and showers are likely early in the stage during the mountain valley section, then 22°C and sunny once out onto the Po plains and the coast.
TV: KM0 and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST.