Giro d'Italia Stage 17 Preview
At first, a big breakaway escaped the peloton, but when it became clear that Movistar weren't chasing them, the stage win was left for the riders that had the courage to attack such a brutal day on the bike. On the fiersome Mortirolo, of the 21 it was Giulio Ciccone and Jan Hirt who remained in front. Those two had a big enough gap to play cat-and-mouse in the valley road to Ponte di Legno where Ciccone finally won in this year's race. In the peloton it was a calmer day until the Mortirolo, where Bahrain put up a strong pace and Nibali attacked early on. Carthy joined him, Landa, Carapaz and Lopez counted on Pedrero who was chasing before moving on. None of them could make differences between each other - appart from Lopez who lost time in the final kilometer - and remain with similar time gaps, with Roglic to loose 1:22 minutes on them after struggling in the climb, coming in the chasing group with Yates and Mollema.
Positive: Pedrero's ride in the Mortirolo was something special, not only did Carapaz and Landa retain (and in Landa's case) gain time on their rivals, they also took big motivation from having their team so dialed in. Carthy and Dombrowski (who was in the break) rode very strongly again and can sense the Top10 if they keep riding like this, Mollema stood strong amongst the sharks, and Lopez despite struggling in the end went from 10th to 7th in the GC. And Ciccone what to say... so many breakaways, an inequable advantage in the Maglia Azurra, the win was coming, it absolutely had to, for a rider who's been racing so strongly and so aggressively, it always comes.
Negative: Roglic's lost time was a big hit for the fight for the win. At this point he is far from the top candidate, he needs to up his game bigtime if he still dreams of winning the race, but getting alliances and keep fighting on to be in the podium seems to be the most realistic scenario. Majka lost some time, 4th to 6th, still a pretty good result but he needs to hold his own if he wants to keep his place in the top rankings.
Stage 17 will be another big challenge, but "easy" in comparison to what was faced in the previous day. The stage will have some dificulties but is one that should come to a breakaway as the climbers will look to recover in any way possible, and with Movistar's current scenario only an unusual occurence would get other teams working in the front. There's lots of climbing in the day though with several categorized and uncategorized climbs before the ascent to Anterselva.
The climb will come from a false-flat aproach which will add to it's dificulty, but has 4.5Km at 8.2% which is well enough to make some attacks after a hard stage and race in general. After it's summit there's a technical aproach to the line but in flat gradients into the Biathlon Arena.
Another horrible day... In the start and finish the temperatures are expected to be around 5ºC and the sun won't be present, and the temperatures won't really get higher than that throughout the day. This will take a big toll on those who can't handle the tough weather, and getting sick is a real risk, specially after seeing Ciccone's trembling we are very aware of that reality, tomorrow the Giro won't be won but someone can loose it, no-one is safe from the weather.
This is a day for the breakaway. Only big splits on a descent, someone visibly having a horrible day, or some crazy arrangement from a team that wants to just win the stage can prevent that. After such a round of day's it's been the GC riders will want to save their legs as much as they can for stages 19 and 20, tomorrow is a hard day but before the final climb there isn't really any place to attack, and as the final climb itself won't be favourable to creating gaps and the fight seems finally between Nibali and Carapaz, there won't be any chasing for sure.
That said, who is in it for the win tomorrow? Ciccone won today already, and his final half an hour of racing looked dreadful (plus his KOM lead is safe) so he won't go on an adventure again tomorrow. Astana seem to have Lopez out of the podium fight, tomorrow's stage isn't proper for long-distance attacks so they will again try to win the stage. Cataldo had it, and Hirt tried today, so tomorrow Ion Izagirre, Pello Bilbao and Andrey Zeits are to keep an eye on.
Some other riders that have been impressing the last few days. Pozzovivo seems to be in his best legs, with Caruso as support Nibali won't need both of them tomorrow, Pozzovivo isn't the type of rider with the killer instinct but he definetely has the legs, and I'm sure he'll have the freedom too has Bahrain have yet to win a stage. Lucas Hamilton of Mitchelton will maybe have freedom aswell, pretty big riding he's been doing and he's tried in L'Aquila, but tomorrow is a more suiting day in reality. Sunweb have a duo that's been riding well, Jay Hindley was 19th today, despite being in the breakaway they have another good name, Chris Hamilton, who's also been stalking the Top10 riders the last few days, and everyone has freedom to do their race in the team.
INEOS have Eddie Dunbar, he is still climbing high mountains incredibly, hanging 22nd in the overall, and he's right in that place where you expect the winner to come from. Ivan Sosa is like Pozzovivo, won't have an easy time to get in the break but a serious threat if he does. Valentin Madouas sits in the balance, some riders wouldn't be happy letting him go but if he does he will as motivated as one could be to get another strong result, EF have Hugh Carthy and Joe Dombrowski but they seem too close to the GC riders to have their freedom, unlike Tanel Kangert who's been fading a bit, but no-one will chase him if he goes, and the power climb to the finish suits him well.
I don't believe in seeing the GC men taking the win, but if it comes to that the scenario should be similar to past days. Carapaz and Nibali look the strongest, the climb is very similar to Civiglio so the gaps should be too. Hugh Carthy looked brilliant that day and today aswell so EF have a good shot there, Simon Yates lacked again today but perhaps he'll ride better in the more explosive efforts. Landa and Roglic seem to have something that wouldn't allow them to win in such stage, and Lopez is a bit in the same situation.
⭐ Zeits, Carapaz, Nibali, Carthy, Kangert, Madouas, Sosa, Hindley
He's already won in L'Aquila, but he has the legs to do it again. I think he struggled in the high mountains, some sickness or bad sensations, but early on the race he looked really strong and in my eye he's nearing that level pretty well. Astana will want more stage wins, they definetely have the team for it, between him and Izagirre I was a bit indecise but I think Bilbao is looking better than his fellow Basque.
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