One short and swift sprint stage before the fast-twitchers start to wonder why they’re still in the race and the GC contenders look up, up, up into the high mountains to see their fate.
Friday 23rd May: Stage 13: Fossano to Rivarolo Canavese, flat, 157km
The GC guys had that all-important individual time trial yesterday so this flat stage is going to be all about staying safe and saving energy for the double-header in the Alps this weekend. The sprinters, on the other hand, will be vying for one last chance to cross the line like they’ve been shot from a cannon as the next flat stage is not until next Wednesday.
Therefore, expect the GC boys to let the sprint teams chase the break and provide the excitement. But how many sprinters will make today their last day at the Giro, I wonder? Nacer Bouhanni has been winning at will lately but Giacomo Nizzolo is almost certainly going to try to break the ‘eternal second’ vibe [three second places, each time losing out to Bouhanni – Ed] he has going on this Giro.
Saturday 24th May: Stage 14: Aglie to Oropa, high mountains, 164km
Four climbs today: a cat 3 as a little canape early in the stage, before three Alpine climbs including a summit finish at Oropa which will make a meal of the peloton.
The first three climbs will most likely be the battleground for the mountains jersey so we can expect to see Julian Arredondo doing his stuff for much of the day – he’s not about to let that jersey go to someone else. The final climb is where the guys in the GC top ten have to stay alert, stay strong and not get dropped. The final climb isn’t long enough or hard enough to facilitate a Giro-winning move by anyone, but it certainly could facilitate an elastic-snapping Giro-losing crack for someone today.
Sunday 25th May: Stage 15: Valdengo to Montecampione, high mountains, 225km
Would you look at that profile? This stage has one climb. And that starts about 20km from the finish. Until then, this is a long, flat stage with hardly a waver – perfect conditions for riders to get lulled into complacency.
But that would be foolish because at kilometre 205, they start the super-steep climb to the summit finish on Montecampione. With an average 8% gradient almost from the get-go, the 20km of upward pain hits 12% on a series of hairpin bends. Ooooh, yes sir. A brief respite of a mere 4% gradient sets up the final 5km of an unrelenting 8.7% gradient. This would be the perfect place for Nairo Quintana to make up some time and this could very well be the place where Cadel Evans shows us just how hard he can work to stay in touch with Rigoberto Uran. But I wouldn’t put it past Domenico Pozzovivo to move up the GC today.
Link: Official website
Header image: Relief map for Stage 14