Giro d'Italia Stage 20 Preview
As expected the breakaway conquered the stage again, and it was Esteban Chaves that go a win after the disapointment two days ago. He attacked multiple times in the final climb and managed to distance his rivals in the final couple of kilometers, finishing in front of Andrea Vendrame who suffered from mechanicals in the final climb and Amaro Antunes. In the peloton it was a calm day until the final climb, where Astana pushed the pace and Lopez attacked with 5 kilometers to go, winning 44 seconds on his rivals who arrived pretty much together.
Positive: Chaves and Mitchelton got a good day today after what's been a disapointing race so far. Lopez getting time had him come very close to Mollema's 5th place. Majka also seemed to be loosing his legs but today gave a good response and rode to the line with the favourites.
Negative: Vendrame dropped his chain twice on the final climb, it's a shame as he looked the strongest and still managed to finish second, but surely not happy with it. In the GC fight there wasn't anyone important loosing time, Formolo and Polanc were the best placed riders to loose time.
And in the Fiemme mountains the race will be decided. The race wasn't shy on mammoth stages and stage 20 is no exception. The race will essentially be a loop throughout the mountains, with the connection between Feltre and Croce D'Aune having the Cima Campo (20Km at 5.8%), the massive Passo Manghen (21.3Km at 7.5%) and the Passo Rolle (19.9Km at 4.6%). Inbetween these climbs there is also uncategorized climbing, and technical descending, only flat roads are almost non-existant.
The penultimate ascent of the Croce D'Aune is 11.2Km long at 5.3% but it's a deceiving gradient, the final 3.2Km of the climb have an 8.3% gradient and a ramp at 16% near the summit making it a brutal climb after what's been a suffocating day.
But it doesn't end there, instead of moving to the finish line the route will take the riders to a descent that will lead to the final (categorized) climb of the race, with 6.9Km at 7.3% this climb is hard but looks so easy comparing to what's been raced previously. By the end of this stage the gaps should be settles and most of the places in the GC confirmed if nothing out of the ordinary happens, but there is still room on the final day for improvement.
Another good day, legs will be what will be in-game tomorrow, as the wind, rain and cold won't be present.
What will happen?
The moves will come, Matt White stated today what we all know that is, Nibali will attack on Manghen. Sure he can win time on the final climbs if he is on a super day and Carapaz in the opposite, but he won't know that, and his best shot of winning the race is to have at least Caruso/Pozzovivo up the road, and try to distance his rivals on the alpine pass to be able to gain enough time. It won't be easy as the Movistar duo are looking very strong, but he may also have allies on his goal. Roglic I won't mention, seems too far out, but Yates and SPECIALLY Miguel Angel Lopez can be the perfect allies for the Sicilian.
Astana, Mitchelton and Bahrain have to just smash the race on the climb to Cima Campo, Caruso/Pozzovivo, Hamilton/Nieve/Chaves, and Hirt/Bilbao/Izagirre/Cataldo are more than enough firepower to blow up the race, this will be added to the lot of climbers that will be in front as it's their final chance to make something of the race. Trek, EF and INEOS have climber-filled squad and will want to make big moves too tomorrow, and the alliances filled with all that climbing right in the begining of the stage will be deadly. The sprinters will be pacing themselves really early in the grupetto, the GC riders will try to keep their cool until Manghen, but inbetween in the peloton it will be all chaos let loose.
With barely any flat until the Croce d'Aune climbs it's going to be an all-in day, lots of teams doing absolutely everything they can to blow up the race (looking at you Astana and Mitchelton), and alliances will have to be formed, it's that kind of day that is so hard that you can't rely only on yourself to survive.
We all know the favourites by now, it's too hard of a stage and it's too important to be considering a breakaway to take it, still riders like Nieve and Ciccone are specialists at this type of mammooth stage, but between the GC riders that have been blowing up the race since the beggining is where to look for the winners.
⭐ Roglic, S.Yates, Carthy, Dombrowski, Masnada
As Mihai Cazacu pointed out and very well, the belief that tomorrow Lopez will be absolutely flying and can be the decisive factor of the race is very much a possibility, he set a record in the final ascent today and the way he climbed was brutal, I wasn't expecting at all as it's not a climb that suits him, but no-one kept up with him and after he extended the gap and showed the best legs he's had so far in the race. I see him getting up the Manghen with either Nibali, Carapaz or Landa, and every one of those riders have reasons to work together with the Colombian. Even if not there but in the Croce d'Aune, there are a lot of interests that he can benefit from, and collaborating in exchange of a stage win is a scenario I imagine, even with the massive climbing.
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