Can Tao do a hattrick?
We change from short irregular climbs to prober mountains tomorrow. The descent followed by the long flat makes it simple and easy for INEOS to control the breakaway. They will have it under control.
Then the mountains. First is the Lado de Cei. The first 6.5 km are 9.6%. The main problem is, the top is 55 km from the line with a long valley.
Moving on to Brentonico San Valentino. Middle section is the toughest and the last 4.3 km averages 6.4%. Nonetheless, we will see big GC gaps.
Again the wind will not play a factor. Degrees around 12 C with a chance of rain in the afternoon.
How will the stage unfold?
INEOS will control the day, making sure they have at least a couple of riders with Tao over Lado de Cei. Then, controlling the breakaway until the last climb where they likely will set up a train.
Then we will see how early the other riders want to test the legs. I expect Sivakov to be with Tao very far up Brentonico San Valentino. It will make it very difficult for anyone to slip away.
Since the organizers love a late coroner, the last one is with 150m to go tomorrow. That is good to know in case we see a few riders getting to the line tomorrow.
Tao G. Hart – currently, he just looks the strongest. I am afraid he is going a bit too strong with the third week of the Giro d’Italia 5 weeks away. We all know he excels on long climbs, he will start tomorrow as the favorite.
Sivakov – I see scenarios that can play out for him. One, to cover moves and outsprint the opponents. Two, him and Tao G going to the line. The most likely is he will burn his matches for his leader – as he should – but he could still finish in the top-10.
Sosa – currently going well despite short and punchy climbs. When he is in good form like he has shown the past two stages, he should be able to challenge for the win.
Carthy – same goes for Hugh. He excels at longer climbers, I expect him to challenge for the win too.
Fortunato – two wins to his name – both on very long climbs. A podium placement would be a brilliant result. I doubt he is good enough to challenge for the win.
Haig – glad to see him back to a better level. If he can find the Vuelta legs from 2021, he is one of the riders to look out for tomorrow. Bahrain has not been shy when it comes to attacking, he should fight for a spot on the podium too.
Buitrago – I think he will fall short tomorrow. Despite his brilliant results the Giro last season, I still have a gut feeling this will be a bit too much.
Gall – crashed today, we will have to see how he recovers. It will be difficult defending 2nd in the GC.
BORA – the band of brothers are not looking ready for a fight. I think their best option is Kämna with a long range attack.
⭐⭐⭐ Tao G. Hart
⭐⭐ Sosa, Carthy, Haig
⭐ Buitrago, Fortunato, Sivakov, Kämna
Who will win?
I had him as my pre-favorite for this stage and the past two stages just confirmed it was not a bad choice. I think we will see Tao take a third stage win. I am unsure if he solos – if not – he can outsprint the three others I have high hopes for, Sosa, Carthy and Haig.