This Giro d’Italia has turned into the most exciting GC battle to a bummer where rain and illness have left it’s mark. The peloton is now reduced, something a preview writer knows has an affect on the outcome. The less helpers, the more likely we will have breakaway wins.
Starting in Bra, the riders head southeast in the opening 36 km. As you can see above, this is a hilly section – one where a lot of riders hope the breakaway will form. Afterwards, they head back north west all the way up to Rivoli for a lap.
It is a hilly start. The first optimal spot for the breakaway to go is on La Morra, an uncategorized 6 km 5% climb. They head into smaller hills and short descents before Padaggera, a cat 3 climb which concludes the early climbs.
If the breakaway is formed here, it will have strong riders that can finish the job. If not, it will likely happen on the long descent. It looks quite easy for the first half but then they turn onto a smaller road, where the counter-hill is. If the road is wet, the peloton is more likely to sit up, meaning the daredevils can get away on the descent.
It is really a climb that needs to be split up.
First part, 5.1 km at 5.6%.
Short descent of 800m.
Second part, 5 km at 8.2%. This will crack the sprinters.
The run home.
Not the easiest 28 km until the line. The descent is on a narrow road with plenty of hairpins. It actually goes downhill for half of the distance, meaning only the last 14 km are flat.
Last five km below. One of the most technical finishes we have had so far.
I have heard rumors that people are not pleased with my weather forecasts! I think it is something that goes hand in hand with predicting a bike race too, it is very difficult to be 100% correct all the time.
Windy: Reports 2-3 m/s from the NW winds near the start. A crosswind opening in the first 36 km. The wind fades as they progress, leaving no impact in the finale. There is a very small chance of raindrops in the finale. I think they may see the sun tomorrow!
MyWindSock: Reports 2-3 m/s wind from the north. That means a tailwind on the opening 36 km. That means a headwind to the circuit, not strong, but still there. They report the wind changing from N/NW -> SW halfway through the stage, meaning they go from a cross-headwind to a cross tailwind. Now, that means a nice tailwind up the last two climbs too but leaves a headwind/cross headwind for the line. No rain here.
Local media: Tailwind in the opening part with chance of rain. Wind direction does not change.
Conclussion: Ideal wind for the early breakaway. Then it depends if the wind will change. A tailwind on the last two climbs is ideal for the breakaway too. The headwind home? Ask yourself, who is left to chase for Matthews with a GC day coming up. I will just make my point here, none of the weather forecast websites will always be true.
How will the stage unfold?
Well, now I have three weather forecasts… that makes it easy. The wind is not very strong, it looks ideal of the breakaway to form on the climbs. Too many riders attack. Set a pace, see who follows. Thomas de Gendt was not the breakaway king for nothing.
If the breakaway does not form there, you have to be good downhill and willing to risk it. With the following cross-headwind, it could be a rouleur type (Armirail/Jungels) that gets up there. The question is, who will control?
Jayco-AlUla – perhaps. The thing is, it is such a tough one to control. First you have to control the opening part of the stage. Then a long cross-headwind part of 85 km and still have riders to pull on the last two climbs? Then add having two-three guys controlling the finale. Impossible, especially since they have a GC man and Scotson is no longer racing. Will they get any help? Not from Alpecin, I think it is too difficult for Milan and Pedersen too. Gaviria had another crash today and UAE will not work for Ackermann all day.
This is a day for the breakaway, unless it will be a trio or a quartet rolling off the front – but then I hope they are getting a proper scolding in the team bus because that already happened on stage 7. Remember, we are down to 139 riders by now.
Matthews – the man that can fool me tomorrow. I think the best option would be try and win from the breakaway, throw Pöstlberger up there with him. He is no threat in the points classification. He is has been climbing extremely well and his best chance is to try and win from the breakaway.
Healy – breakthrough of the season. This one should be another ideal stage for EF education to fight for. Hugh Carthy is still riding the GC, I assume, but he will not be allowed up the road. Healy already showed me that he can cope with longer efforts, he distanced some quality on stage 8 – with ease – and finished off with a 50 km solo.
Cort – another EF rider with a stage win. He won on Alto de Foia this year, and Megève last year. He can climb better than you’d expect. He also has the nose for getting in the breakaway, something a lot of riders have struggled with this edition. I think the last climb may be on the difficult side for him but it depends on the competitors he is against.
Bettiol – tackled by a mechanic yesterday and finishing 6th today. He is looking promising going in to the last part of the race. We saw last year how much he improved when it comes to climbing, especially on steeper gradients. He is another man who was good on Mende and when he has his days, he followed the best on some difficult climbs in the Tour de Suisse last season.
McNulty – well, I took a look at my record for this Giro. The only time I have no predicted a rider in the top-4 is when going with the American. It really depends on team orders, surely they will not ride for Ackermann. Almeida sits in a good position in GC. If they believe he can win the Maglia Rosa, I’m not sure they should give McNulty too much freedom to burn matches before the last week.
Jungels – the diesel is getting there and he has being riding well. I do not assume he has burned a lot of matches looking out for the captains. That increases his chances of getting up the road. Big engine if it does not form uphill.
Mollema – the veteran has a good chance tomorrow at taking a good result for himself. A few years ago, he would have looked at the stage, marked it down and had it in the bag.
Gee – not sure where he came from but he knows how to sniff out a breakaway.
De Marchi – glad he is back at a high level. He is going very well just now. Big engine if it does not form uphill.
Van Wilder – now free from his chains. He is a fantastic rider which 3rd in Volta ao Algarve and 5th in Vuelta a Burgos tells you. He will be up there tomorrow – I think he will take a stage win before leaving Italy.
⭐⭐⭐ Jungels, Van Wilder
⭐⭐ McNulty, Bettiol, Mollema
⭐ Matthews, Gee, De Marchi, Cort
Who will win?
I think Ben Healy and EF-Education look fantastic. They have the numbers and the quality to take another win.