Giro d'Italia Stage 12 Preview
In another pan-flat stage we whitnessed another battle of the main sprinters, with no crashes interupting the hierarchy, the big four finished in the first four places, with Caleb Ewan benefiting from an early sprint by Ackermann to take his second win of the race, this time in front of Arnaud Dèmare, with Ackermann recovering from his injuries for a third place.
Positive: Ewan taking his second win and Dèmare taking hold of the Maglia Ciclamino were the highlights of the day. Nothing else really noteworthy from what was a action-skinny stage.
Negative: Viviani leaving the race without a single win, not many would've predicted it. Today he also didn't look at his best in the sprint, and he won't start tomorrow, leaving the race without a win.
The transition will be made via a medium mountain stage. It isn't completely right to call it medium mountain as there's a serious climb en route to Pinerolo, the Montoso climb will have the riders ascending an 8.8Km mountain at an average gradient of 9.5%. It's a serious climb where gaps can be made, but the uncertainty over the rivals' climbing legs and the fact that many mountain stages followe will mean this stage will likely not see the contenders make a far-out move, as it comes still 32Km away from the finish. Although recent gaps will surely come as a motivation for some attacking racing.
Although, they will be forced to make a brutal effort in the end. The San Maurizio wall summits with only 2Km to go, it is 13% average but 20% maximum during 500 meters on a narrow and cobbled road. This finish was used back in 2016 when Matteo Trentin had a thrilling victory ahead of Moreno Moser and Gianluca Brambilla.
No wind and no rain, will come as another relief for the riders.
There's a mix of things that can happen tomorrow, there are some possible scenarios. With the GC riders aware of the dangers of tomorrow in the Montoso ascent, and the gaps that have developed in the first week, there's a chance we'll see a very tactical day, with some teams trying to push riders in front and then use them after Montoso. The obvious calls are Simon Yates and Miguel Angel Lopez, riders that came with big ambitions to the race but had a big blow in the time-trial, also Mikel Landa who should in theory be in the GC fight but is already close to 5 minutes behind Roglic.
Roglic is a contender naturally, but without a summit finish he may struggle to control the attacking that's set to come. Nibali also but he will be riding conservatively if he's smart. Formolo and Mollema are riders who are very explosive and will like the final hill, they can create gaps over the top, but riders like Yates and Roglic will likely be the strongest in there.
Majka, Jungels, Carthy, Carapaz are all riders who should also be up there tomorrow and have good legs for those short climbs, there are some more climbers in GC contention but they'll struggle with the conditions and competition faced here.
On the breakaway/opportunist side there's a solid chance for the win, but I assume it will be an attacked race, perhaps the breakaway won't make it. Masnada and Cattaneo are riders that are solid for both scenarios, are tactically astute and have the freedom despite their strong current overall. Ciccone, Ion Izagirre and Jan Hirt of Astana, Diego Ulissi is another good contender if UAE is willing to let the break go, which is a possible scenario. Conti is still in the lead but will be under threat tomorrow, so myabe UAE's best strategy is to let the break get a huge gap and hope no GC teams make any chase.
⭐ Carapaz, Nibali, Majka, Jungels, MA.Lopez, I.Izagirre, Hirt, Ulissi, Carthy
I'm going with Formolino for tomorrow, he's been having a very strong season and is in great form, his puncheur abilities will be handy in tomorrow's finale, and with an expected GC offensive race for tomorrow I see the big riders coming into the final kilometers in front, and Formolo is one of the few riders who have the legs to attack both on the climb and over the top.
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