A day in the mountains before the last rest day. The stage has 3980 climbing meters – almost all of them in the last half of the stage.
The three climbs.
The first climb of the day. Quite a regular climb. The following descend has plenty of hairpins. 40 points at the top.
Next up is quite similar, just a bit longer and steeper. 40 points at the top once again. A descend with twists and turns.
The last one is a long effort but not very steep. The last 10 km averages 2.5% – it is flat.
No wind, and the weather is nice at the start but it gets colder the further they climb but no lower than 13 degrees. A chance of rain in the mountains and a chance of thunder.
How will the stage unfold?
It is a stage, that on paper suits the GC the most. Flat start, and a lot of climbing near the end. On the other hand, the last climb is too easy for any GC damage. Plus, the GC riders will be exhausted after today.
The flat start means the breakaway will form there. It will not wait until the mountains, that would be too crazy. INEOS will have no trouble letting a breakaway go that is no threat.
I was wrong today, but tomorrow should be a day for the break. You need a motor to get up there, you need to be able to climb very well, descend well and possibly sprint well.
Trek-Segafredo – a brilliant team performance in the last many stages. I had not imagined them holding on to the jersey for so long. Now, it frees up Mollema, Skjelmose and Ciccone to hunt for personal glory. I hope to see them race aggressively from now on. I think the flat start will be a problem for Ciccone.
Jumbo-Visma with Bouwman to ride hard for the KOM points. That will likely make it harder for him to get the stage win in the end. I do think it would be wise to have Foss up there too. The Norweigan has had a setback in his season, but he is a class rider. We saw him last year here at the Giro d’Italia, he gets better with each day that goes by. He has the engine to get up the road and has tried a few stages.
Bora – Hansgrohe – Kämna is the obvious pick here. A big stage he took on Etna and has not been in the moves of late. Kelderman is riding very well, but I think a few teams will not give up their top-10 spot for free. I assume he might as well be a bit tired after all the hard work today. I think their best shot is the German, the flat start will not be a problem for him.
Formolo – It is time we see him up the road again after the fantastic performance on stage 7. I think the stage is good for him, the flat start is positive for him compared to some of the pure climbers who want to get in the mix. The last climb is not too steep – I think that is perfect and he is a skillful descender.
DSM – are Arensman allowed to get in the break from the GC teams? I think they will. His top-10 on Blockhaus tells us just how well he is going. Otherwise, Chris Hamilton has been close on a few GT stages now and has ridden consistently throughout this race. I think Arensman is a very strong contender.
Lucas Hamilton – is climbing superbly. Seeing Yates winning today, he will have the green light tomorrow. He too is awfully close to the top-10 but I doubt it will be a problem. I think he can get in to the breakaway on the flat.
Oldani – is in the form of his life. Another good stage for him tomorrow. I can see him struggle a bit on the first two climbs, but he will just have to get in an anticipatory move like the other day. I think it will be difficult for him to win, but his Etna performance and stage 12 performance were impressive.
Taaramaë – is looked strong too. I think he will hope his team sends a few options up the road. I think he was lucky not to make a doomed breakaway today – I think he got a stage win left in him. The flat start is not optimal for him.
Lotto-Soudal – De Gendt, Holmes, Vanhoucke and Moniquet. I think Vanhoucke is a very, very good shout tomorrow. The last climb is perfectly suited for De Gendt, but the two climbs should be too hard.
Who will win?
I think it looks like a very good day for Kämna. The engine to get in the break, the skills to climb and descend and the diesel to stay away.