We are slowly getting through the stages. Tomorrow’s stage will be a real joy to watch. The stage 3000 climbing meters in just 147 km.
Starting in Santena just south of Torino before they make their way onto the circuit and twice up Superga.
The stage starts flat for the first 17.5 km. Then we have a few bumps where the main breakaway might go. We have seen it take an awful long time, which means the breakaway could potentially happen on the first categorized climb. It is 40.7 km from the start, but on two occasions it has taken 10 or 11 attempts. The climbers will hope their team can hold it together and the break goes here.
They do it 2.5 times, as they join the circuit on the descent before the finish. I have decided to start the circuit from the peninsulate crossing of the finish line to the last time they cross it.
Lovely to see it being picked up. The fastest riders do this in just 12 minutes, I assume it will be a bit slower tomorrow. First time with 68.8 km left, last time with 32.2 km left.
Super fast descend onto a plateau. A few hairpins.
Colle della Maddalena
A very hard kick to start with, 1.4 km at 13.4%. Then a short descent before the top. The second section is 1.1 km at 6.8%. First ascent with 52 km left, last with 14.5 km left.
Colle della Maddalena – descent.
A tricky one. It is very fast, but there are some very difficult hairpins. It can be quite difficult for the riders to determine where the corner ends.
Last 5.8 km.
A climb and another descend with hairpins.
It will be a very hot day for the riders, 30 degrees Celcius! No wind at all and no rain.
How will the stage unfold?
The easy start will make it more difficult for the climbers to get into the breakaway, but as I have mentioned, it is not impossible for it to form on the first climb. I think we can see both a battle in the breakaway and a battle in the peloton. This day can course more splits than stage 15.
What do you need? You need to be very, very good on steep sections. You need to be a good descender and it will be a bonus if you can have a few teammates up the road, we saw how to play your cards with Alpecin the other day.
With the shortness of the stage, I think it will be a day for the breakaway with an interesting GC day behind.
Lennard Kämna – the man clearly has good legs. After a few days of resting, I wonder if Bora will let him up the road. I think they should, Kelderman got the change last time.
Thomas de Gendt – a man who has been enjoying a few days at the back of the peloton. I think tomorrow is a good day for Lotto to join the breakaway. Do he like steep gradients? Think back to Catalunya.
Wout Poels – the man has not looked in too shape but he is a rider who normally gets better the more he races. His favorite climb is the Agrilu – tomorrows course will suit him. If they manage to get Buitrago up there too, they will be strong.
Dombrowski – we saw on the Blockhaus stage that he is getting better and better. The flat start is a big problem – he will hope the breakaway forms on the climbs.
Jan Hirt – a man who specializes in steep gradients. He is still fairly close in the GC but I could see him try to sneak in the breakaway – it will make Trek work their butt off. Otherwise, Taaramae or Rota or options for the team.
De Marchi – he is eager to get in the break, he just need a bit of luck. He got the engine to dare to attack from afar and not get caught in a group behind. I think he will be without teammates in the break – a disadvantage.
Bouwman – he is climbing well and I can see a scenario with both him, Dumoulin and Foss in a move. That will be tough to beat. He is the strongest of those three at the moment.
Yates – time to see if the knee has healed. He has Juul-Jensen to keep it together until the climb. That means Yates, Hamilton and Sobrero could be a strong trio up the road.
Formolo – form is very good. Fantastic climber and descender. If he is alone up there tomorrow, then it will be tough.
Mollema – I like this stage for him but GC duties can be a problem. If he is up there, he can get a long way.
Who will win?
I will go for Simon Yates.