Tirreno Adriatico Stage 3 Preview
Julian Alaphillipe kept his stream of victories flowing and this time he beat Greg van Avermaet and Alberto Bettiol in the uphill sprint to Pomarance. With Sagan distanced due to a puncture, the hard pace throughout the whole climb also made it hard for every other sprinter, so in a group of 33 it came down to a sprint between the fastest riders in it, with the Frenchman emerging victorious.
The day's break wasn't a dangerous one, Berhane, Irizar, Schronberger, Kurianov and Maestri went clear but were never a threat and were caught early on still, although the pleasure of wearing the KOM jersey will be to Maestri even though it's Alaphillipe who leads the classification.
Mitchelton led the peloton into the climb and set a really hard pace in the first kilometers of it. With Juul-Jensen and Howson making the bulk of the work (and chase to an attacking Oss and later Agreen), when the first real attacks of Fuglsang and Lutsenko the race blew up, with no true working force.
Simon Clarke and Roglic bridged to Lutsenko, when Dumoulin did so too the chasing group was in emergency mode, with Stybar coming across the Bookwalter-led group once again became compact in front.
Roglic and Lutsenko pushed again inside the last kilometer but with Alaphillipe already having gotten on their wheels the move didn't stay clear. de Plus tried a move but was marked, then Gazprom's Shalunov went to the front and led-out the group into the final meters, where Alaphillipe powered away in front of van Avermaet for a marking win.
Mohoric was Bahrain-Merida's top-placed rider in the stage, finishing in the back of the group in 29th. As expected from the climb, there is a big variation in the power throughout the climb, the first ramp was exceptionally hard with 610 watts for 38 seconds, and a 5,82W/Kg performance just to be able to keep up with the group, far from fighting for the win.
The flat part halfway up the climb that should in theory be a constant one had several spikes, showing that it was a constant fight to follow the right wheels instead of following the group, such a hard pace made for an advantage for those who can climb better, which ultimately gave Alaphillipe the upper hand on van Avermaet, the rider in the group who should have the strongest sprint power.
This stage will be the first opportunity for all of the sprinter field to shine. With a bulk of them racing in France there may be some outsiders trying to bundle in the results sheet. It won't be an easy day for anyone though, with 226Km on the menu and the first half of the stage on a fairly rolling terrain, this stage represents the definition of transition stage to it's core. Besides some wearing out those hills won't have much other influence.
It's also a very technical finish, right before the 1Km to go banner there's an "s" turn that will certainly cause a big stretch in the bunch, so to be in front is already vital before that. After it there's another "s" turn although this one much less meaningful, then the charge will be made for a right-hander with 250 meters to go, another crucial point as the riders will have to sprint out of the corner and then hold it until the line.
Who can we expect to see?
Viviani and Gaviria. Arguably two of the fastest men in the peloton currently, tomorrow will be as much of a test for them as it will be for their teams.
The very technical finish will be the ultimate test to their leadout. Whilst Viviani will mostly count on Morkov and Richeze to put him in position for the final Kilometer, Gaviria will count on Consonni and... maybe just Consonni.
This is where it will get hard for other teams, Deceuninck counts on a superb leadout team that includes also Asgreen, Stybar and Lampaert, which should be more than enough to annihalate the other teams, IF they play their cards correctly. It's a big advantage for them surely, but the truth is it doesn't require the best team to leadout, if Consonni can stay in Viviani's wheel and then sprint across the Deceuninck train into the last corner, it can give Gaviria the edge.
The stage will be a race into that turn with 250 meters to go, out from it everyone will have to sprint and then keep up the sprint to the line. This type of long sprint should suit Gaviria better, so it will be a case of him having the position or not.
Sagan will be the absolute joker, he is a master in positioning, has a sprint that can contest with the other two, but he doesn't have anyone who can put him in prime position for the end, and the questions over his form remain unanswered due to his bad luck today not allowing him to contest the stage.
Bauhaus, Nizzolo and Modolo are the outsiders for the win, but none of them are known for a brilliant technical quality, so positioning is everything and it will be a case of a gamble for them if they want to win, Venturini on the other hand is known for that but his speed shouldn't match those above.
⭐ Bauhaus, Nizzolo, Modolo, Pacioni, Venturini, Stuyven
Gaviria is my bet for the win tomorrow. In a long sprint situation he should be stronger than the competition, and I see in Consonni a rider who can do the perfect leadout, as long as they can stay in the wheel of Viviani.
Make sure to let us in on your opinion, and of course follow us on twitter for the latest updates!