It should be a calm-before-the-storm stage tomorrow. One major climb but too far out for some GC teams to be very interested. A flat start will make it difficult for the pure climbers to make the split, but it will be the strong climbers that make the difference on the Kolovrat. The stage has 3230 climbing meters.
The climbs and the descents
Kolovrat is the most difficult climb tomorrow. It starts with 54 km left and ends with 44 km left. I think the breakaways selection will happen here. The winner of the stage will have done well on this climb.
The descend is long and has a few kicks they have to manage too. You don’t win tomorrow if you get gapped there. Small roads, plenty of twists and turns.
Following is a valley until the last climb that starts with 7.5 km left. A climb that changes gradients often. The second part is the hardest, with 2.25 km at 8.9% before the last 650 meters at 3.3%. Don’t let it fool you, it kicks up again a bit before the line but not for long.
Wind blowing from the SW with 1-2 m/s. It gives a tailwind in the first half but a headwind in the last half of the stage. A chance of rain looming as always.
How will the stage unfold?
Well, who will chase?
Bora: Possibly, but they should be waiting for stage 20. Kolovrat is too far from the finish.
Bahrain: Possibly, but they should be waiting for stage 20. Kolovrat is too far from the finish.
Everyone else?: Breakaway.
The flat start makes it harder for the pure climbers to get up there unless the break forms very, very late. It is possible as it likely is the last day for the breakaway. Expect everyone to try.
Arensman – the young Dutch rider is making a real name for himself. Second, on stage 16 was a big result. He has a good engine to make the break on the flat, something most climbers will have trouble with. I imagine he can have good support from C. Hamilton up the road.
L. Hamilton – well, I have been waiting for him to make another good result since stage 12 but he has not made it into any break. He has had a lot of strong results the last week, one must assume he has very good legs.
Kämna – the breakaway specialist. Will they give him one last chance for another stage win. I feel like there is a battle between them and Bora – Hansgrohe in the team classification. That means they likely will be sent one up the road if Bahrain does.
Poels – the same as Kämna when it comes to marking Bora riders. He is very, very good just now after fighting illness in week 2. The performance on stage 17 was fantastic and he tried to join the breakaways in the first week, I don’t see why they don’t allow him to fight for a win tomorrow.
Ciccone – form is good but the flat start is not ideal. I think he would have wished they finished closer to Kalovrat. He has been joining a lot of breaks of late. The battle for the KOM jersey is likely going to cost him another stage win.
Formolo – he is not free to join the breakaway. He has the power to join the breakaway on the flat, but Kolovrat is perhaps too big a challenge for him. If he manages to attack on the climb early, do his own pace and get caught before the top, he will be hard to drop downhill. The hilly finish is good for him too.
Leemreize – form is good and he has the power to make the breakaway. He has been very impressive this Giro d’Italia. I must admit, I did not know him at all or think anything of him. He has changed that. He is very good at not waiting and following the best. He is very proactive and that is why he has a lot of good results this Giro.
Mollema – time for a triple? I have not been very impressed by him to be fair. Stage 7 was his day to win but he was beaten by a better rider. It seems Trek is very determined to keep the youth jersey. I think he will give it another good go tomorrow, it is a good stage for him on paper.
Carthy – he is getting better and better, but I don’t think the downhill is optimal nor the valley or the punchy climb. He is a diesel, he should wait for a big ride on stage 20.
Valverde – let’s see what the veteran has up his sleeve. I think Kolovrat is a challenge, but if they drag him to the last hill, they will have a hard time beating Valverde. I think the flat start will be a big problem for him.
Who will win?
With the unsureness of Bahrain and Bora joining the morning moves in order to save themselves, I think Arensman will take his first win.