It certainly was more difficult on stage 3 than anticipated. Tomorrow, we have the first mountains.
Starting in Venosa and riding west for most of the stage with three cat-2 climbs.
This is the opening 24 km. It is possible for the climbers to get up the road tomorrow but I would argue it suits the roulers a bit more.
Moving on to the first categorized climb. It is a long effort, but the gradients stay low. We are talking 13.4 km at 4.3%.
Next up is a very similar climb. Another cat-2.
The gradients get tougher after a descent and a long valley. Now, we are at the last climb.
It is easier to split it up. First 2.7 km at 5.1%. Perfect for launching an attack in the breakaway if you need a gap before the steep part.
Then a short section in Bagnoli Irpino. Narrow roads and on cobblestones for a few hundred meters.
Then, they head on to the real climb which ends roughly 4 km from the finishline. Here, the riders get a few hundred meters downhill before a flat.
The steep part is where damage can be made. We have 3.1 km at 9.5%. It was used back in 2012 as the finishing climb with Pozzovivo beating Intxausti and J. Rodríguez.
3 m/s from the NW, meaning mainly tailwind and crosswind throughout the stage. The last 15 km will be with a headwind but that is a short section and 2 m/s. Almost nothing. The rain will play it’s part again – making it even more decisve.
How will the stage unfold?
So, we have 3600 meters of climbing but only the last climb is difficult enough for GC gaps. So, we have two scenarios.
First mountain stage usually ends with a breakaway win. I can’t find the data but I am fairly certain the last 9/12 first mountain stages has ended with a breakaway win. Only Les Planches des Belles Filles had a GC winner but Kämna was not far off taking it. We have 3600 climbing meters but they are not decisive. We have rolling terrain in the morning, making it ideal for a breakaway to get up the road. I also think Quick-Step are keen on letting the jersey go for a few days. That is usually how it goes.
2. GC day.
It will be a large peloton coming to the last climb which ends with a flat. Now, I will not be surprised if Remco attacks but he should not be able to drop Roglic on the climb. If the breakaway is up the road, it is just a waste of energy. If it is a GC day, there is the chance he will just give Roglic a few seconds back on him. It would simply be foolish and a waste of energy.
Conclussion: It should be a day for the breakaway with a rider borrowing the Maglia Rosa.
*Decided to change Kämna for Fortunato after rethinking the stage and moved Verona down to one star. 20:41.
Fortunato – I have been made aware it is his birthday. Furthermore, I have also forgotten how long it can take for a breakaway to form in Grand Tours. If it goes on the cat-2 climb, he is a serious contender on his birthday. He is climbing well but he does need the team to help him getting in the breakaway. The short distance of flat after the crest of the last climb is not ideal.
Leknessund – not the best season he is having but I am hopeful he can turn it around. He has the engine to get in the morning breakaway and sitting just 1:40 behind Evenepoel, he is one of the riders that could take the jersey. He is a good climber, which we saw in Tour de Suisse last season.
Healy – he is being called the breakaway artist by the team. I guess they forgot about Cort. His form is through the rough. Yet I wonder if the climbs are too long for him tomorrow. This is very different from any of the races he has shined at this spring.
Albanese – the local man tomorrow, being born not too far from the finish. Tomorrow should be a stage that suits him well as he recently climbed very well in Vuelta Asturias Julio Alvarez Mendo. I have a feeling the local will do well tomorrow.
Formolo – his name comes to mind whenever I see it is raining. Usually, he is allowed in the breakaway by his team – atleast he was so last season here with Almeida riding GC. He has not had a very good season so far and he rarely wins – but – he usually is a better rider on Italian soil.
Rota – I’m fancying some Italians tomorrow. As the gradients tomorrow are easy until the last climb, he should be in the mix to win from the breakaway. He is a very good rider who has improved his climbing a lot over the recent years. 5th in Eschborn-Frankfurt is a good sign too.
Dombrowki – crashed today, he was my rider for tomorrow. He climbed well in Tour of the Alps and he is a rider that targets the first mountain stage. I hope to see him go well but the team nor himself has written anything else than that he crashed.
Verona – I think it is a good looking stage for him but it is very difficult to say anything about his current form. 142th today is perhaps not the sign you want to look for but perhaps he is just saving himself. He is a rider who are better than his number of wins.
Evenepoel – will he attack? You just can’t tell. I do not think so.
Roglic – if we see a move from Evenepoel or a GC sprint, Roglic will be my favorite.
⭐⭐⭐ Leknessund, Rota
⭐⭐ Fortunato, Roglic, Evenepoel
⭐ Verona, Dombrowski, Formolo, Healy
Who will win?
A win for the local man from EOLO-Kometa. He is looking mighty good just now.