After Giro dell’Emilia, it is this race that follows. I’ve seen it unfold in two different ways since becoming a die hard fan back in 2018. Usually, it ends in a large sprint.
3200 climbing meters and plenty of ascends of the Casbeno and Montello. Plus, the two ascends of the Morosolo and Casciago.
It comes down to the laps with the Morosolo. If it does rain, this is usually where the climbers try to attack to avoid a sprint.
This circuit is more demanding, as it includes the Morosolo. They race it with 38.5 km left and 13.2 km left.
This is the last part of the lap. As you can see, up or down making it very hard to organize a chase if domestiques have run low. The run it itself is not very difficult either.
Here you have it, this climb itself will not form many gaps which is why we saw a sprint in 2022.
Dry, calm winds and sunshine. Perfect weather.
How will the race unfold?
As I mentioned, two things can happen. Either we see it open up before the first ascend of the Morosolo, otherwise that climb plays a significant role. Since the weather is very good, I opt for the second option. That is the approach UAE took in 2022 and it worked out fine for them.
First time up the climb, we may see attacks. That is what Jay Vine did last season, racing for Alpecin-Deceuninck. UAE had a very strong team too last year, where Majka reeled him in over the top. As the group is still large the first time climbing it, it is simply very difficult staying away. We also had an attack by Felipe Martinez last year, around 25 km to go. This was on the climb just after the finish line. Formolo and Jesus Herrada followed.
I think we can expect more or less the same approach from UAE. Controlling the finale. Yet, they need to change their approach a bit. Had it not been for a very strong Ulissi, Pogacar would have been isolated in a big group (20 riders) after the last ascend of Morosolo. That makes him vulnerable on the descent, as Mas and Gloag tried to attempt in 2022.
On the run in, we will see attacks. Last year, it was an over-eager Mas who kept doing Pogacar’s job. Simply because he was very strong. Later today, UAE bring an even stronger team with Adam Yates. This edition, Roglic takes that role of being the strongest contender to beat him. He will have Benoot to help him long into this race.
I think we will see a race where some riders will try and force the race to open early. They will not succeed, as UAE are not here to play their numerical advantage with Pogacar in the line up. They will set it up on the Morosolo both the first and the second time, saving A. Yates for the last approach. The smaller the group UAE get over the top of Morosolo, the easier it will be controlling.
The rest will look to follow. It is “the usual suspects” in the Italian races. Most of the riders who did well in Giro dell’Emilia will do well later today. It is just very important to remember that it is more puncheur-focused compared to climbing focused compared to Giro dell’Emilia. A fast sprint on the line can get you a long way too.
Pogacar – if the team has the same approach as last year, they will go all out for him. Maybe not Formolo, you never quite know what role he has or takes on himself. He couldn’t respond to the sprint from Roglic the other day. In a flat sprint and easier race overall, he should have a better chance. Plus, his form is on an upward trajectory, it is all about Il Lombardia.
A. Yates – time to sacrifice himself? I think that is the most likely scenario. It is not a race that suits him much compared to Giro dell’Emilia. It is too easy for him and his sprint to slow to contest for a race win.
Roglic – some punch the other day. He is an amazing athlete bouncing back after a turbolent Vuelta. He has won this race back in 2019, it is a race that suits him due to his fast sprint on the flat. Once again, he and Pogacar looks to be the two favorites. The question is, who of them is the quickest in a flat sprint?
Carapaz – I can say in hindsight his name was close to being mentioned for Giro dell’Emilia. I just wasn’t sure how well he did in Luxembourg, but the terrain there made it difficult to determine. It means he likely will be one of the better climbers tomorrow. From time to time, he contests sprints. In a flat one, I doubt he fast enough there to challenge for the win.
Healy – looked good in Luxembourg before throwing it all away on the time trial. He will likely attempt the “Jay Vine”, attacking the first time over Morosolo and trying to solo. It is just so damn difficult, yet it can be done by a few riders in the peloton. He is one of them.
Mas – same as last year. He will be strong on the climbs but he simply can’t sprint.
Aranburu – therefore Movistar could look towards Aranburu. I think this is his best season, and given his level just now, I don’t think I’ve seen him better or more consistent. I don’t think the race is too difficult for him, as long as he positions himself well before the two ascends of Morosolo.
Ciccone – in the Mas-category, but in fairness he is quicker.
Albanese – On a good run of form. It all depends if we see a sprint from a group of 15-20 or the main favorites battling it out. In the first scenario, I think he will be contesting for a good result.
Matthews – they are here both with S. Yates and Bling. Matthews hasn’t been very consistent the past few months, yet this is race that suits him. Then again, I don’t think he has been climbing that well this year. He is a dark horse.
Who will win?
I think Pogacar wins the sprint. With so many riders eager to attack and the strengh of UAE, I do believe the race will be quite similar to the one in 2022.