Stage 17: Caravaggio to Vicenza, 214km, flat
Sprinters must think the race organisers have it in for them. They see the word ‘flat’ at first glance of the race book and think, “Hurrah! This is our stage!” They start reading and see that it’s pretty much a long, flat stage on lovely wide, straight roads. Weehee! Oh, okay, there’s a short curvy piece for about 20km in the middle of the stage – not a problem. Hang on … ‘Road narrows with sudden turns and short, technical descents’, ‘a short climb followed by a very fast descent, the last part of which is quite technical’. That’s about 16km from the finish but it does flatten out inside the final 3km.
Will it be a bunch sprint? Will that short final climb be too much for Mark Cavendish and friends? If he can get to the final kilometre near the front, Filippo Pozzato will particularly want to take this as he went to school in Vicenza. With three days of climbing hell to follow, if the remaining sprinters can keep it all together they will move heaven and earth to do so but they will face a difficult run-in to the finish. There’s a sharp hairpin bend inside 2km, followed shortly after by a 90-degree right, with one final right-hand corner 300 metres from the line. A straight, wide boulevard finish this ain’t.
Link: Official website