The race in Liguria is a hilly one-day race. It starts with three different climbs in the first 122 km, before heading to the lap circuit which includes Colla Micheri and Capo Mele.
The riders start and finish in Laigueglia. In the first half of the race, they follow the white arrows below. Then unto the blue and the yellow arrow markers are where the circuit is.
The Circuit in Laigueglia
It is important to be a good climber and a good descender.
The first climb is Colla Micheri. It is the hardest climb in the finale. It is 2 km at 8% and a bit steeper towards the top. The descend is not an easy one to Capo Mele.
The second climb is the Capo Mele. It is 1.5 km at 4%. Do not underestimate its value. It was there Mollema made the decisive attack last year.
Overview of the circuit.
It is going to be a bit windy near the finish with 5 m/s from the south. That means a headwind after Colla Michire but a headwind after Capo Mele.
How will the race unfold?
Let’s kick it off by saying, there will not be a bunch sprint. Far too many teams have attacking options and do not wish to see a reduced bunch sprint. We have four strong teams here; INEOS, UAE, Trek and FDJ.
For INEOS, they have a team with a lot of width. Rodrigues is going well, the same can be said by Van Baarle. They do not want a sprint, they want to be on the offensive.
UAE may have even more options. A lot of their riders would like a reduced sprint from a group. Ulissi, Formolo, Ayuso and Covi are fast. The last two mentioned are in great form too. I expect them to follow moves but I am not sure how much they should contribute as they have some quick men.
Trek starts here with Mollema and Ciccone. Tolhoek is doing well too but I do not think it is a good parcour for him. Mollema won here last year, they had the numerical advantage in the leading group – a very important factor.
FDJ may only have Gaudu as their spearhead. If I had seen Storer in better form, he would really be a threat in this terrain. I see Gaudu attacking, the question is, who can follow?
A new theme: The ChrisPless idea.
As a new initiative, I have worked with Sam Pless on a new visual layout and this is how we see the race tomorrow. INEOS, Trek and UAE will determine the outcome. They do have the most riders, while Trek-Segafredo and Gaudu will have a weaker team – on paper. Plenty of the riders tomorrow wants to be on the offensive.
INEOS have two solid options. I think the race is very good for Carlos Rodriguez, who has been very strong in February. How he fares in a sprint is very difficult to say, but I think he is quite fast. I think Dylan van Baarle looks terrific. What a performance in Portugal. With that form, it was a weird move he missed the opening weekend, INEOS could have used him. He has a big engine to attack from afar and stay away. The
Trek bring Ciccone and Mollema. Both have won the race. If they manage to get in a front group where they have a numerical advantage, they will most likely take the win. The start list is very good this year and so far we have only seen Mollema on the road in 2022. He is looking good. Ciccone has the right attributes but we will see how well he gets off. He won here in 2020 without any race days – they are two times defending champions.
UAE bring a lot of attacking options. Covi, Ulissi, Ayuso and Formolo. All of them are good in a sprint. Formolo has not raced this season which makes me think he will not win. He is not a very strong starter. Ulissi has looked decent but not good enough either. He has good results here from the past, with three consecutive top-10 placements three years in a row. Covi and Ayuso are the two riders looking best at the moment. I think the team has a lot of options and I fear they might be too defensive, while they should try to create a numerical advantage – or at least be in the same position as Trek. Ayuso and Covi should beat Mollema or Ciccone in a sprint.
Gaudu will attack. It will happen. It is almost written in the skies. When is the question and who can follow is perhaps more important? I have a hard time seeing Gaudu win with a long solo attack. On the other hand, he is a good puncheur and a good descender – and there is not a lot of flat on the circuit. He might not win, but he will finish in the group behind the winner.
Champoussin has enjoyed a fine opening to the season. He looked good in Bessèges, unfortunately missing the splits on the first stage to ruin the GC ambitions. He looked good in Faun-Ardèche Classic too. He is likely to be on his own which makes it difficult for him. Few riders would want to sprint against him.
Gesbert is mentioned as I think he will be tough to drop. He is good on steep slopes and he is in very good shape. I think the competition here is too difficult but I imagine him in the top-10.
Battistella was doing terrific in Portugal before he got tendon inflammation. He was good in Tour de la Provence before that too. He proved in the Italian Autumn Classics in 2021 that he is a good one-day race rider and he is quite quick in a sprint. We will have to see how he has recovered.
Who will win?
I think UAE has the strongest team and I think Covi will take the win.