One of the most difficult races to point out a clear favorite. The race has 3189 climbing meters and is quite similar to the last editions. However, they’ve changed to distance from the last climb to the finish. It is still shorter than in 2019 (45.5 km from the line) but longer than in 2021 (25 km from the line). This year, the distance is 35 km from the line.
This is where the race is decided. Normally, they kick it off quite a bit out. Slowly thinning out the group of favorites before the last climb usually separates the potential winners from the rest of the pack.
There are three climbs and fast, twisty descends in between them.
The first is Sirtori: 1.5 km at 5.6%.
The second is Colle Brianza: 3.1 km at 6.7%, reaching 13% at the hardest section.
The third and last is Lissolo: 2.5 km at 7.2%
This is where odd things can happen. Last year, Lutsenko and Trentin sneaked off the front on the descend we see 34 km out. That was 24 last year. It is a long way out for a group to hold off. It will depend on the mix of riders and if too many have strong riders behind them.
The wind will blow from the west. That means a headwind on Lissolo, normally where we see the biggest selection. Nonetheless, it will not be very strong but it leaves a cross-tailwind from Lissolo to the finish too and that should favor the stronger climbers slightly. It will be 15 degrees C and it will rain. A lot. About 1.2 cm in three hours. It will make the race even harder than it is. There are also forecasts suggesting thunder which I hope they evade. In conclusion, it will feel a lot colder than it is.
How will it unfold?
Looking at the edition last year, it was Movistar kicking things off 60 km out. The next to last ascent of Lissolo. This year, if the same thing happen, it will be 70 km out. Now you add in the rain and the cold – it will be quite a difficult race.
If we look at who has the strongest team, I will point my fingers at the 10 WT teams. Out of those, EF, Israel – PT and UAE stand out. How do they want to race? I think they want to make it as tough as possible. EF have Bettiol for a potential sprint but other than that, they would need to win solo. Israel – PT need to perform. Their team is amazing, they want to open the race early – to play their numbers. UAE without Pogacar is often full chaos. They are likely to ride for themselves and thereby racing offensively.
I think one of the three teams will open the race fairly early. The rain will help dropping the ones having a bad day and removing some of the favorites from the equation too. I think we will see a very hard race.
Benjamin Thomas – he has had good season. He has developed the skill to do well on short climbs, he packs a good sprint and he can TT if he gets away solo. The weather is the biggest question mark for him tomorrow, but I have a hunch he will manage.
Bettiol – I have liked what I have seen from him so far the past month. The problem is, he rarely converts good legs in to wins. They have one of the best teams tomorrow and that means it is not certain it will be him from EF off the road. With the rain it will feel more like a tough classic, something I think he will enjoy.
Israel – PT come with very strong team, but how will the play it? De Marchi won Tre Valli Varesine last year in the same conditions. He will fly under the radar but he has not had a good season at all. Dylan Teuns and Mike Woods will absolutely love the weather and the route. It will be a big advantage for the team having to riders who can hurt everyone on the climbs.
Kron – the Dane has been going well the last two races in Italy. I must admit it, I thought he would have a better season than he has already, but the upcoming races suit him to the bone. The rain won’t be a problem at all, and I do think the medium mountains is going to be for his liking. The main concern is the weak team – he will have to work hard and be lucky to win.
UAE – as mentioned, likely without hierarchy. We know from the past that Formolo is 20% better whenever it rains and that is going to be the reason I hope to see him getting a good result again. He did well in Deutchland Tour before having bad days in Canada. I don’t know how he will do. Hirschi looks in form too. He does alright in rain – I think he will be their best man.
Velasco – form seems to be going the right direction. In my opinion, he is better on climbs like these than muurs. He can also sprint well enough for a good result, but I see it unlikely he will win.
Simon Yates – I once saw an interview where he mentioned he is not a fan of rain at all, but then I think back to Paris – Nice stage 8 this year. He left La Vuelta with Covid-19 and therefore we can’t be sure how well he is feeling. Some of them are barely affected by it while others lose months worth of training. If my theory is right, then it will be a hard race – one that should benefit him.
Valverde – he must get a mentioned but he does have a bad hitrate whenever it rains.
⭐⭐⭐ Bettiol, Teuns
⭐⭐ Kron, Yates, Woods
⭐ Valverde, Velasco, Formolo, Thomas
It should be a difficult race, but tactics also decide the outcome. I think the flatter run-in is good for riders who can both climb well, manage the rain and sprint well. Therefore, Hirschi is my bet.