Last day in the Alps.
We are in for another short stage tomorrow. It starts with a very difficult climb.
Look at this one, Passo Lavazé. It really depends on how you look at the climb.
The first 7 km are 6.1%.
The last 3.9 km are 9.8%.
Today, we saw the breakaway form on the last portion on the first climb, it will likely be the same tomorrow.
Moving on, a section of 105 km with the descend from Passo Lavazé follow and then a long flat.
This brings us to the last climb of the race, Riomolino. This is harder than I thought it would be initially. This is due to the organizers not having the finale of the climb where the climb below ends but after a shorter descend and a counter-hill.
The main issue for the GC men is, they are 22 km from the line. They don’t get a chance to breath, since there is a plateau going up, down or flat. Then a short kicker before the steep descend down towards Brunico. It is the perfect spot for a hail-mary. Then, the last 6 km are flat.
Another day with calm wind and with a change of rain. Same weather as today more or less.
How will the stage unfold?
If you want to be in this breakaway, you want to be a strong climber. I doubt the pace set by INEOS today was very high since a group of 14 could go clear. The Empire want to keep their numbers. It is all about the GC, Tao has his wins.
Now, back at it with EF, Bahrain-Victorious and Bora-Hansgrohe. Two of them had riders in the breakaway today – that is now how you are going to win. Unless you just use 1 as a satellite-rider, each team should look for that option, so they may have some help after Passo Lavazé.
Once on the Passo Lavazé, I expect attacks. Cepeda, Kämna and Buitrago are the suspects for this. I would like to say that would burn INEOS domestiques but you don’t benefit from drafting above 10%. It is every man for himself on these climbs. It is a strong group that could go to the line and the three of them have looked very active. It could force Tao into having to work on the plateau – having a few new attacks from Haig, Vlasov and Carthy on the counter-hill.
I think that is how it will pan out. This must be a GC day.
Tao G. Hart – I think it is a big task for him tomorrow. Luckily, he will have most of the team at his disposal on the last climb to set a fierce tempo. It has not been fast enough to stop moves from going clear and it likely will not be tomorrow. I think taking the stage win here would mean the three other teams have bottled it.
Bora – Hansgrohe – Let’s start with Kämna. He is a prime candidate to attack and just stay away. I do not think steep inclines is his speciality, he is more of an 6-7% diesel but he is looking very good. If you give him to bike lengths he is gone. Vlasov excels on these climbs. He is also the fastest GC rider in a flat sprint. He is improving day by day here, I expect him to be one of the best tomorrow. Fabbro could be a satellite rider but they are down to 6 men.
EF – I will start with Cepeda. Some attacks he puts in. The main issue is the finish is not at the top. He is not going fast downhill (despite it not being very technical) and he is not going fast on the flat. It makes it difficult for him to win. Nonetheless, if he attacks, he could move up to the podium as a good price. Carthy as a former winner on Alto de l’Angliru should be satisfied with the last climb. He is just not a good descender as his teammate and he will be happy it is easy. He has to win solo, very difficult when sitting 2nd in GC. Tao will watch his every move.
Bahrain – Victorious – Buitrago is better in this terrain than the longer climbs. He is a real fighter with a good sprint to him as well, I’m just uncertain how quick he is on the flat compared to his uphill sprint. I assume he will be the one attacking as he is sitting further down than Haig – the Colombian will hope to drag Cepeda with him, he can outsprint him. Haig sits 3rd. That is almost as bad as sitting 1st tomorrow. Bora, Fortunato and EF will look to take that finale spot on the podium. I think he will defend his podium, he is looking very sharp.
Fortunato – flat finish does not suit him but he will finish with the best. Another solid top-10.
Dombrowski – breakaway option #1. The last climb remind of the one he won in the Giro d’Italia 2021, stage 4 – he loves a steep climb.
Sosa – breakaway option #2. I think he may not like the rain and cold, but he is a former winner on Lagunas de Neila, he certainly can climb despite his lack of power on the flat.
⭐⭐⭐ Haig, Tao G. Hart
⭐⭐ Cepeda, Buitrago, Kämna
⭐ Dombrowski, Sosa, Fortunato, Carthy
I think one of the Bora-Hansgrohe riders will take the win. I will take a win for Vlasov. He is fantastic on steep inclines and I think the three contending teams will isolate Tao over the top of the last climb. That opens up a chance for a rider sitting almost a minute behind Tao some freedom.
If I am completely wrong, I will put in Dombrowski for the breakaway.