Right off the rest day, the climbers are in for another battle. We have four climbs and 5250 climbing meters. The stage sneaks just above 200 km of racing too.
From Salò and in to the Alps.
The climbs and the descents.
Golletto de Cadino + descent.
It starts after 30 km. Just a tough way to get back on the bike. We will have a mighty battle to get in the breakaway, there are 40 points at the top.
The descent has a few switchbacks in sections that can be difficult but it also has some longer sections that are easy.
Passo del Mortirolo + descent
It is not the classical way up, but nonetheless, it is not an easy climb. It gets steeper for two km towards the top. Another 40 points at the top.
A descent on very narrow roads. Small switchbacks, this descent can be raced very aggressively from a GC team.
A steep climb before the last climb of the day.
Valico de Santa Cristina
This only contains the last part of the climb. A very hard climb at the end of the day. The last 5 km are all above 10%.
The descent starts easy but then we have a few switchbacks before they arrive at the finish.
Almost no wind tomorrow, but a tailwind of 2 m/s on the first climbs, then a headwind on the third climb and a crosswind of 1 m/s on the last. It should not be the most important factor tomorrow but sure enhances the chance of a breakaway. It will be colder, but not freezing cold. However, it will rain. Quite a lot. It will rain from today and until they cross the line. The descents will be wet and it will feel colder than it is. Rain accumulation in the next 24 hours. Between 8 mm and 13 mm. That is a lot.
How will the stage unfold?
Well, it is hard to tell. I wrote in my GC preview this was no easy task and I expected a team to go on a raid from the start. We have seen big climbs early in the race a few times, last time in Catalunya on stage 6. The GC teams want to come out and play. 20 km at 6%, with a tailwind and in the rain? You can do a lot of damage. Add the breakaway want to get up the road and you have an amazing start (to watch)…
I think Bahrain – Victorious or Bora – Hansgrohe will try to do something. Most likely Bahrain, as they have to amazing descenders and climbers in Landa and Bilbao. I think their best move is to get Bilbao closer to Carapaz. There are a few scenarios that could play out.
01 – Break goes on the morning climb never to be seen again.
02 – GC team pushes it on the first climb, and we have a hard GC battle.
03 – Same as 02, but a strong break goes on Mortirolo and goes all the way.
04 – Bahrain attacks on Mortirolo and the descent.
05 – GC guys wait for the last two climbs.
I will go in-depth with another xPless idea.
We have seen raids from Bora-Hansgrohe. Will they try again tomorrow? I think it is likely we see a move from either them or Bahrain-Victorious but it will be up to those two teams to make sure the breakaway does not take the day. I think Bahrain-Victorious will be up to something and the same goes for Bora – Hansgrohe. If a breakaway wins, it will be a very strong climber that takes the day.
Carapaz – looks strong but he is not too confident to win a sprint against his competition. I think he and the team will sit back tomorrow and only work when they must. It will be very difficult to isolate him, but I do not think Porte is a big fan of rain which could be troublesome. With the GC so close together, he might have to respond to a lot of attacks, something that will limit his chances of winning.
Landa – he says the Giro d’Italia starts tomorrow. I think he, Bilbao, Buitrago and Poels will try something tomorrow and it will make it very hard for the breakaway to stay away. I think they should use Bilbao offensively and make the other contenders work. That way, they also set Landa up for an attack as he is freewheeling.
Bilbao – one of the best descenders just now. I imagine he will try something with Landa as mentioned, but it is not unlikely he will win. 1’52 behind Carapaz is close, and it could make a lot of teams spend energy to hunt him down, but he is just impossible to catch downhill.
Hindley – he is looking fantastic, what a great surprise for the race. Bora-Hansgrohe do have the numbers to try something again tomorrow, but it is not easy taking the Maglia Rosa from Carapaz. We will have to see how he copes with the rain.
Almeida – is a rider I have marked down as bad in rain. I could be wrong, but in the Giro d’Italia in 2021, he did have problems in the first few weeks but I could just be reading into his style. You try and drop him and he will return. I am not sure if the team can offer sufficient support for him, which makes it hard to win a bike race.
Pozzovivo – he may not win but he will be hard to drop on the steep slopes tomorrow, he really enjoys them. So far, he has been up there on the two key stages and he is likely up there again tomorrow. He needs to win solo, he does not have a good sprint.
Kämna – breakaway option #1. Fantastic shape, just need a bit of luck getting in the right move.
Yates – breakaway option #2. Best climber to win from the breakaway.
Formolo – breakaway option #3. He is good in the rain.
Ciccone – breakaway option #4. Fantastic shape.
Who will win?
A lot of rain, a lot of climbing and tricky descents. Plus, some quite long valleys. I will go for someone who is in terrific form and can win from both the GC and the breakaway – Simon Yates.