• Rúben Silva

Giro d'Italia Stage 8 Preview

It was a mad stage into L'Aquila, multiple breakaway attemps were shut down in the first part of the stage, mainly by Emirates and Bahrain, and there was no rest as the average of the day was above 45Km/h. 80 kilometers into the stage the winning group forged clear, including the likes of Davide Formolo and Pello Bilbao (both with teammates), Mattia Cattaneo, Tony Gallopin and Thomas de Gendt. The peloton was never able to get the group back, and there were no gaps there, whilst at the front it was a tactical finale, where Bilbao was able to distance himself from his break companions in the bottom of the climb and hold the gap, winning in front of Gallopin and Formolo, also gaining back time on the GC contenders.

Positive: Major day for Formolo and Bilbao's overall ambitions, they won over a minute as the main teams didn't show any will of chasing them down. Gallopin aswell, that trio alongside Roglic lead the run of the riders that weren't in the break yesterday, and it may get the Frenchman to bet on the overall aswell.

Negative: No real loosers from the day. Mitchelton's tactics were a bit questionable, Hamilton in front looked strong but instead of going on the wheel of the others (which would be good as there were GC ambitions driving the group) he was attacking, and in the end wasn't even close to the win, whilst in a bunch finish Yates would have the chance to win some time.

And stage 9 will be another flat affair for the sprinters although a more detailed look could say otherwise. The profile looks somewhat gentle due to the low altitude of the final kilometers in relation to the highest point of the stage, but there are some dificult sections in the closing part of the race.

1,1Km at 9% with 77Km to go, 6,8Km at 3.9% with 71Km to go, 3Km at 4,4% with 56Km to go, 1.7Km at 7% with 38Km to go, 4,4Km at 3.3% with 35Km to go, 2.1Km at 4.5% with 24Km to go and 2.7Km at 3.1% with 19Km to go are the noteworthy climbs in what will be a 240 kilometer stage, hard to say the least.

The constant up-and-down of the run-up to Pesaro will keep making it a hard call to control the race, and so more will be a very technical descent that will leave the riders just a mere 3Km to the finish.

The Weather

A tailwind all day long except for the final 30 kilometers. This will make for a very tactical race, the headwind in the closing part of the race would in theory motivate the sprinters as the hills aren't that hard, the problem is that for them to have a chance to fight for the win the break must be controlled and that will be hard in the, well, first 210 kilometers. I don't think the sprinter teams will commit to the chase, but if we get to the final hour of the race and the gap to the race is reachable, we could see some teams putting in the work to take their sprinters to the line if they've survived.

Also, there is forecast of rain for the final part of the race. What can that make of a difference? Well it's already confusing enough, rain will only add some more to the mix.

Finding a Balance?

But still with this said, lots will try to be in the break. This will mean that the stage will be very fast if the sprinter scenario is to happen, which doesn't favour them. So this means, if the peloton is slow, it's for the breakaway, if the peloton is fast, it can be for the sprinters, problem is they'll be more fatigued, so there's no perfect sprinter formula, problem is the puncheurs too can't be named for the win, there aren't hard hills near the finish plus the headwind will cancel those who try to escape pretty much, despite the final technical descent.

Caleb Ewan is one sprinter who should like the more hilly ground, his team is one that we could see working just for him as there are no GC obbligations. Same for Arnaud Dèmare, an endurance specialist he should fancy the lenght of the stage, but maybe the bulk of the stage will be too hard for him. Ackermann and Viviani would have more complications as their teams have GC contenders to protect instead of them, but they're a possibility.

Riders like Ryan Gibbons, Juan José Lobato, Andrea Vendrame and Enrico Battaglin have a good balance going on there, but we shouldn't really see their teams chasing for them. There are some powerful riders like Bob Jungels and Victor Campenaerts who could be possibilities if they can slip away before that final technical descent, but then again the wind won't be favourable for that scenario. So I'll take a look at who can take glory from a breakaway, have freedom and the legs to win in such a finale.

AG2R - Denz

Androni - Montaguti, Vendrame

Astana - Villella

CCC - Cerny

Deceuninck - Honoré, Serry, Sénéchal

EF - Se.Bennett

Israel - Neilands

Lotto - Campenaerts, de Gendt, van der Sande

Mitchelton - Bookwalter

INEOS - Dunbar, Narváez

Sunweb - Bakelants, Hindley, Vervaeke, Haga

Trek - Brambilla, Gogl

It's a very diverse group, the winner won't be a skinny rider surely, has to be either a rider with good sprint, or a very powerful rider with a big engine, and some teams will be very focused in getting a win that will only come via a breakaway like Sunweb. Lotto has the dillema of Ewan but I think they are great contenders for tomorrow from a break either.

Prediction Time

Ewan, Gibbons, Vendrame, de Gendt

Viviani, Dèmare, Ackermann, Campenaerts

Going for a long shot. I see a breakaway making 3 for 3, but a very unpredictable stage. Deceuninck will want someone in the break and they have very good candidates. Mikkel Honoré is a very powerful rider, his Grand Tour debut but in such stage I imagine he'll have freedom to try and make it into a breakaway, and he's a powerful rider that can take advantage of the messy finish expected.

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