Giro d’Italia Stage 20 Preview and Betting Tips.

Stage 19 Recap.

Chris Froome takes the most impressive individual win of his career and moves into a commanding position in the overall classification.

Expectations were high for stage 19 and boy did it deliver! As soon as the flag was dropped the racing was on which meant little room for anyone trying to get in a breakaway. The usual suspects tried but were kept on a tight leash and the gap never got much over a minute. As they hit the Colle Delle Finestre the Sky boys ominously came to the front to take over the work from Mitchelton Scott. Puccio immediately increased the watts and it was like we were watching the Team Sky of old as the unrelenting pace spat riders one by one from the peloton. With Puccio still on the front, Simon Yates began to drift and quite embarrassingly was dropped only 5km into the climb. Lopez was swinging soon after but this seemed to be an attempt to pace himself rather than actually struggling and the Sky train rumbled on. Eventually Froome was left with just Kenny Ellisonde who was showing the first signs of that TotA form we all expected. He pushed the pace hard on the gravel sector of the Colle Delle Finestre until Froome took it up and immediately got a gap. He pushed on until he took the Cima Coppi with around a 30 second gap on a chasing group of Dumoulin, Lopez, Pinot and Carapaz. On the descent Froome pushed his advantage out to 1:30 as Pinot’s sketchy skills slowed the group behind.

To everyone’s amazement the gap continued to grow on the lower slopes of Sestriere. Reichenbach had managed to bridge back up to the chase group and was helping Dumoulin and Pinot in the chase but Carapaz and Lopez cowardly sat on. Over the top of Sestriere the gap was at 2:30 and Froome was close to moving into the virtual pink jersey.

He again gained more time on the descent and it was clear frustrations were growing in the chase group in the direction of the South American pair who were still yet to do a turn. Another 3 minutes behind these guys the chase including Pozzovivo, Bennett, Formolo and Konrad was also suffering some miscommunication and was also losing time.

Froome hit the final climb to Jafferau with a gap of 3:33 and with the stage win a near certainty his attention turned to ensuring he would be wearing pink on tomorrows start line. He held the gap well as Carapaz and Lopez predictably tried to attack the group behind and eventually crossed the finish line after painfully negotiating the steep final 500m. Dumoulin paced his effort well, not being drawn into the games of Carapaz, Lopez and Pinot but he still ended up losing out to them in the finish. He eventually finished 3:23 down on Froome.

In terms of GC.

Perhaps the most exciting GC day in recent memory the Giro has been completely turned upside down. Froome gained 3 minutes on the chase group of Carapaz, Lopez, Dumoulin and Pinot and upwards of 8 minutes on everyone else. He therefore jumps from 4th up to 1st while Tom Dumoulin retains his second place, 40 seconds down and against all the odds Pinot moves onto the podium. The biggest losers were Pozzovivo who slumps into 6th and of course Simon Yates who completely collapsed and I’m pretty sure he’s still out there riding as I write this.

Parcours.

214km from Susa to Cervinia where the riders will climb to the base of the Materhorn. Unlike previous mountains stages, tomorrows route is flat for the first 129km and should be relatively stress-free.

The first climb of the day is the Col Tsecore. At 7.7% for 16km it’s a tough one which will set the tone for the remaining 84km. Once the riders crest with 68km to go they’ll be greeted with a rapid descent before immediately climbing again. This time is’s the Col de Saint-Pantaléon. It’s equally lengthy at 16.5km but is very slightly easier with an average of 7.2%. It has a tough opening section but a pretty forgiving middle sector before ramping up again to the summit.

Over the Col de Saint-Pantaléon it’s onto the final climb of the day up to Cervinia. Again it’s a 16km climb but it’s probably the easiest of the day at an average gradient of only 5.6%. This is slightly skewed by the flat final 2km but overall it should be the kind of climb to suit the more powerful riders and not the pure climbers.

Race Strategy.

The Giro is the Giro and in true Giro style it’s been completely turned on it’s head with only 2 stages to go. Mitchelton Scott are now out of the running and Froome is in the driving seat. The team that now needs to attack is Team Sunweb with Tom Dumoulin only 40 seconds away from the pink jersey but will they have the strength to do so?

I think tomorrow will be another fast stage but one where the action is concentrated into the final 84km as there’s little to gain from any team pushing early on. A break will go and it’s success will depend on the gap it can get before the first climb up Col Tsecore. I think it’s touch and go as to whether it sticks. There’ll be plenty of teams who know this is their last chance to get something out of the race  and so competition to get in the break will be fierce. So fierce that it might not go for an hour by which point they will not have a huge amount of time to build a gap before the first climb.

Once they do hit the Col Tsecore Sky will look to dominate. The boys have all hit form at exactly the right moment and the likes of Wout Poels, Ellisonde and De La Cruz will look to keep the pace high to deter anyone from attacking.

I think a strong break will get clear but will ultimately be picked off one by one as Sky up the pace on the final triplet of climbs. It will be a close call but with Astana still interested in a podium place wil Lopez and Dumoulin not too far off the race lead I think it will be a GC rider that takes the win. This man will be Richard Carapaz.

Contenders.

It’s another one for the GC boys but I’ve written plenty about them so far so I’ll keep it brief and spend a bit more time on some GC hopefuls.

Richard Carapaz has had a storming Giro so far and clearly packs a strong finishing kick on long climbs. He surprised everyone by making the 2nd group today and did absolutely no work meaning there’s a chance he’s slightly fresher than the rest. Either way I think the climbs suit him as he’s tended to get results on the slightly less punishing gradients where he can kick away in the final few kilometres.

Similarly Miguel Angel Lopez did little to no work in the chase group today and despite yoyoing on the Colle Delle Finestre looked very strong all day long. He seemed to be pacing himself and tomorrow’s slightly less testing gradients will suit him well. He’s just off the podium and has a great chance to pick Pinot off meaning I’m expecting him to attack. His Astana squad should be there in numbers in the final and this will be of great benefit.

Equally Thibaut Pinot has a podium place to defend. He went through somewhat of a resurgence today, seemingly out of it in the TT him and his teammate Sebastian Reichenbach put in excellent rides to pull back tonnes of time on Pozzovivo. If he can remain lively he’s got enough time to be allowed some freedom off the front and it will be left up to Lopez alone to chase.

Can Chris Froome pull off the double? I doubt it. At this point he’ll just want to defend his lead and keep a close eye on Dumoulin. His Sky train will look to control the field rather than to decimate it and I think this will mean we see him finish high up but not on the top spot.

In contrast, Tom Dumoulin and his Sunweb team are going to have to approach this stage aggressively. 40 seconds is probably small enough to leave an attack until the final climb but the question remains as to whether he can actually drop Froome? I’m thinking no but we’ll see. You just can’t rule anything out in this Giro.

Making the break will be incredibly tough tomorrow and will require the usual combination of strength and luck. Robert Gesink has been quiet so far but was looking stronger today and didn’t actually finish too far down. Tomorrow would suit his climbing ability well and I think he’ll have had his eyes on it. Similarly Ben Hermans finished strongly today and unlike Gesink he’s been a mainstay in a number of breakaway’s so far this Giro meaning he’s got great legs. This could well be the day he manages to pull it off. What about the Mitchelton boys? Yates is completely out of the running in the GC now so they may be given some freedom. The bookies seem to think Mikel Nieve is their man and he certainly has pedigree on stages like this but I think Jack Haig also has a great chance as he’s looked the strongest all race. My worry is that he’s just as cooked as Yates but we’ll see. After today’s stage there are also lots of guys on GC who have time to play with and could well be given some room in a break. Think the likes of Formolo, Geniez and Goncalves. 

Tips.

Likely another no bet day as it really is a bit of a lottery this far into a Grand Tour. The racing has been incredibly tough and who’s to say how the guys will have come out of a day like today. I’m gonna go with another couple of fun ones which I think holds some value. Steer clear if you don’t like the riskier ones.

Outrights –

1pt on Richard Carapaz e/w at 15s (bet365)

Match Ups –

2pts on Chris Froome tb Tom Dumoulin and Richard Carapaz tb Miguel Angel Lopez at 4.95 (bet365)

I’ll add a couple of break hopefuls if the odds move in our favour.

Thanks for reading and make sure you follow me over on Twitter (@eachwayvelo) for any in-play additions.

I’ll leave you with this…

Giro d’Italia Stage 19 Preview and Betting Tips.

Stage 18 Recap.

Max Schachmann marks out all of his breakaway rivals before powering away to take his first grand tour victory.

The breakaway stuck! A sizeable group got up the road early on and unlike every previous stage no team in the peloton was minded to chase. They quickly got a gap near 10 minutes and eventually pushed this out to nearer 15 and at this point it was clear they were going all the way. On the final climb a series of attacks left only Ruben Plaza yo-yoing and Schachmann and Cattaneo forging clear. In the final kilometre Ruben Plaza had managed to pull himself back on but Schachmanns powerful attack left both Cattaneo and Ruben Plaza for dead, rightfully earning him his first win on the big stage.

Behind the peloton had a very relaxed day before hitting the climb up to Prato Nervoso. FDJ did much of the pace setting, perhaps nervous of Pinot’s form, and we saw plenty of riders just outside the top 10 trying to slip away. With around 5km to go Woet Poels attacked and was followed by a flying Miguel Angel Lopez. Shortly after, in the ski town, Tom Dumoulin unleashed all the watts he could muster and pulled away a small group including Pozzovivo and Yates but seeing them both unshaken he slowed up. Froome then clawed his way back on and immediately counter attacked. Chaos ensued and to everyone’s surprise the one man unable to follow was Simon Yates. Sensing their opportunity Froome, Dumoulin and Pozzovivo forged on while Yates was caught and dropped by two more small groups of riders before reaching the finish line 43 seconds behind Lopez and 28 seconds behind Froome, Dumoulin and Pozzovivo.

In terms of GC.

Only Lopez actually managed to advance his GC position by leapfrogging Rohan Dennis up to 6th but Yates lost a significant amount of time on the three next best riders and Pinot lost yet more time on pretty much everyone around him. Dumoulin moved to within 30 seconds and Froome and Pozzovivo are hovering around the 3 minute mark. It’s still all to play for going into the high mountains!

Betting.

Not much was staked today with it being such an unpredictable stage which turned out to be a good decision as the break was let go but with none of the riders expected to be there. I was happy with my Pello Bilbao shout as he showed himself a number of times on the final climb so overall not too disappointing but a shame to make a small loss.

Parcours.

Arguably the Queen Stage the 185km route races through the alps taking in the Colle delle Finestre and Sestriere before finishing atop Jaffereau.

The peloton will roll out from Venaria Reale, just North of Turin, and immediately start heading uphill. 50km later they will crest the first climb at the Colle del Lys. From here they will descend  for 14km and immediately start going uphill again as they hit the false flat which leads into the bottom of the Colle Delle Finestre.

The Colle Delle Finestre is this years Cima Coppi meaning it’s the highest point on the whole route. Starting at 503m above sea level the riders will head skyward until they crest at 2175m. That’s nearly 1700m of elevation, uninterrupted. In total the climb is 18.9km, averages 9.1% and has over 8km of gravel road once it goes above 1400m. It’s a visual spectacle but remains a long way from the finish as the riders will crest with 73.3km still to go.

 

What’s left of the peloton will descend Finestre but get very little break in the valley as they head up to the infamous ski station of Sestriere. In 2015 this was where the stage finished but not here. Once they get over Sestriere the riders will take in a 23km descent, a good opportunity to shake out the legs and prepare for the summit finish up to Jafferau.

Officially the climb to Jafferau is only 7.25km but the riders will have had to tackle near enough 15km of climbing in the valley before this. Even at 7.25km it’s still a very tough ascent, averaging 9.3%. To add insult to injury it’s toughest gradient of 12% comes within the final 500m.

Race Strategy.

After today the outlook of many teams will have completely changed. The first signs of weakness from Yates were clear for all to see and they were not insignificant. To lose nearly 30 seconds in the space of 1.5km after a relatively easy day is huge and plenty of the GC riders will have taken confidence from this.

It makes tomorrows stage even more unpredictable. The climbs will suit Yates more than Prato Nervoso did today but sensing their opportunity the likes of Sky, Sunweb, Astana and Bahrain will want to push the pace early and put the pressure on Yates from the outset. To add to Yates’ worries his team also look to be weakening and showing the pressure of the 16 days they’ve held the leaders jersey. Haig was dropped before the climb to Prato Nervoso even started and Chaves was gone pretty quickly too leaving Yates isolated from early on.

With this in mind I think the race will be hard from the gun with the pace really being felt on the Colle Delle Finestre. Astana had big plans for today and delivered and Sky will be boosted seeing Chris Froome put in the attack which distanced Yates. They both have the strongest teams in the race and will look to put the pressure on.

The fast, chaotic racing will leave little chance for a breakaway to survive and we will see a GC man take the win. Based on his improving form and the strength of his team this man will be Miguel Angel Lopez.

Contenders.

Miguel Angel Lopez was the unsung hero of stage 18 with a well timed attack that saw him take time on all his rivals. He clearly had a plan in mind as he dropped to the back of the group at the start of the final climb before working his way back up and going off the front. His GC time gap meant he wasn’t marked too heavily but he looked incredibly strong nonetheless. Pello Bilbao also finished well and was active on the final climb while Luis Leon Sanchez, Jan Hirt, Andrey Zeits and Davide Villella looked to take easy days so that they could be ready for tomorrow. I’m expecting big things from Astana tomorrow and the steep but consistent slopes of the final climb suit Lopez well.

The man with the second strongest team is Chris Froome. Kyrienka, Pucci and Knees can do the work early on while De la Cruz, Henao, Ellisonde and particularly Wout Poels will be there to help Froome in the latter parts of the stage. Poels is climbing with the best right now and I expect he will be the only teammate left for any of the GC guys as they hit the final climb. Froome looks to be peaking right about now and while he hasn’t timed it perfectly it leaves him with 2 stages to really make his mark on the race. If Sky light it up Froome could well take significant time on Yates and even take the stage.

Domenico Pozzovivo isn’t the most adventurous of riders and doesn’t have the strongest of teams but tomorrows steep climbs should suit his small frame. He will look to follow in the wheels and go with any major attacks before pushing on up Jafferau. Due to his conservative style it’s tough to see him winning the stage but I’m sure he’ll be involved at the pointy end and in this Giro anything can happen.

The last time Finestre was used in the Giro Fabio Aru was the victor and there’s a lot to suggest that he can do it again tomorrow. He’s taken a few easy days after the TT and will want to utilise his turn of form to take something away from the race. What better than it’s Queen Stage? I think going with the early move will be a mistake given the likely pace behind but if he sticks tight to the GC group there’s still a great chance he can win. There’s a question over how much of his performance was down to assistance from the police motorbike but I still think it was an impressive time and his few days of rest will have really helped. I for one would love to see an Aru win tomorrow.

Tom Dumoulin will be licking his lips after today although he might be slightly worried about the altitude of tomorrows stage and the steepness of each of it’s climbs. He was famously undone on a stage similar to this in the Vuelta two years ago by none other than Fabio Aru however he’s matured a lot since then and is a much more complete rider. Prato Nervoso suited his powerhouse style a lot more than the Colle Delle Finestre will but saying this his ability to produce power over extended periods is better than anyone in the world and will suit the consistent gradients of many of tomorrows climbs. Him and his team are only 28 seconds behind Yates and have the most realistic chance of taking the pink jersey off his shoulders. First it’s about getting rid of Yates and then it’s about sticking with the other GC guys. If he manages this then he wins the Giro d’Italia.

As always I’ll mention a few guys who will be looking to win from a breakaway although I doubt it will stick tomorrow. Robert Gesink has been quiet so far but has a knack of popping up on stages like this to take the win. Similarly, Joe Dombrowski has been pretty anonymous so far but tends to get better later into a GT and can climb with the very best on a good day. With Thubaut Pinot looking worse everyday there’s a chance that his FDJ teammates are given some freedom and the most likely of these is Sebastian Reichenbach. Of Androni’s ranks, Fausto Masnada is probably best suited to a day like tomorrow and I’m sure that Giulio Ciccone from Bardiani will be extremely keen to get in the early break more so for the mountains points atop Finestre but also for the stage win if the opportunity arises. Ben Hermans has been knocking on the door as has Alessando De Marchi while Valerio Conti has looked strong so far but might not enjoy mountains this high. Finally I’m still waiting for Jarlinson Pantano to show some form and our pick from today of Matteo Montaguti may have been saving himself for tomorrow.

Tips.

I think this is a nailed on GC day but this being the Giro who’s to say what will happen! I’m tempted to back Lopez at 4 because he’s both strong enough to win and far enough down on GC to be given some room to attack but I think these odds are little too short for my liking. Keep an eye out on the exchanges if you can get him for nearer 6 you’ll have done well. I’ve gone with a four fold match up more for a bit of fun than anything, tomorrow will be all about the racing!

Match Ups –

2pts on Simon Yates tb Thibaut Pinot, Jan Hirt tb Sergio Luis Henao, George Bennett tb Richard Carapaz and Davide Formolo tb Alexandre Geniez at 8.11 (bet365)

Giro d’Italia Stage 18 Preview and Betting Tips.

Stage 17 Recap.

Elia Viviani sprints to victory and leaves no doubt as to who is the fastest sprinter is in the race.

Plenty tried to get in the early break and over 20 were successful but they were never given much of a gap as Bora were attentive, showing clear confidence in their man Sam Bennett. Over the next 100km the speed of the race whittled the breakaway down to it’s 4 strongest components (LL Sanchez, Wout Poels, Alessandro De Marchi and Ben Hermans) but cresting the final climb of the day they only had a 20 second advantage and it was clear they weren’t going to make it.

On the finish loop an exhausted Bora-Hansgrohe were prone to attacks and we saw Brambilla try a late one followed by Stybar and then Lammertink. All were nullified by a charging peloton as the race was back together again for the final 3km. A strong leadout from Lotto-Jumbo saw Danny van Poppel jump first but he was closely marked by Viviani who timed his sprint perfectly to jump clear and take his 4th win. Sam Bennett left it too late once again and made it up for second. The result pretty much concludes the race for the points jersey.

In terms of GC.

It was perhaps a harder day than most wanted with three big mountain stages coming up but the GC teams did well to keep their men up front in the hectic finale and nobody lost time.

Betting.

I’ll have to hold my hands up on this one as I called it wrong. The combination of a seriously motivated Bora-Hansgrohe and the neutralisation of the lower slopes on the first climb meant that the break never got much of a gap and it became all about the sprinters. If you were following over on twitter you’ll have seen we backed Viviani and Bennett at 8s pre-race which recouped most of the losses.

Parcours.

196km starting from Abbiategrasso in the outskirts of Milan heading South-West towards the French border. It’s one of the more straightforward days of the Giro with 180 big ring kilometres across picturesque rice fields and vineyards before a tough finishing climb up to the ski resort of Prato Nervoso, officially labelled as 13.9km at 6.9% but more like 18km at 6.2%.

Of the offical climb the first 2.5km are pretty easy, averaging just 5.5%. The 4.5km kilometres after this are the hardest of the whole climb with maximum gradients around 10% and an average of 7.78%. The final 6.9 kilometres will remain hard and the average of 6.6% is skewed by an almost flat kilometre. The final few hundred metres are around 10% and could cause problems to a rider already on the limit.

Race Strategy.

A tough day for the break to stay clear and in my opinion a likely GC showdown atop Prato Nervaso. I expect the break will be filled with the Androni’s and Wilier’s of this world rather than any of the big boys as 180km on flat roads leans heavily in favour of the peloton. If however Sky, Astana or FDJ get people in the break then it may have a chance. The big question is who chases? Everyone knows now that Yates is the best climber and could well win once more and extend his lead even further if he’s brought into the bottom of the climb. For me the GC teams still win out and we’ll see the break brought back before the climb or on it’s lower slopes.

At this point Astana and Mitchelton will be keen to set the pace alongside Sky providing Froome is feeling confident. Riders will be spat until we have only the GC favourites and few other left from which Fabio Aru will kick away to take the win with Simon Yates following to gain more time on his rivals.

Contenders.

Simon Yates has established himself as the best climber at the race and by some distance. His performance in the TT showed he has come out of the rest day well and doubts about him being able to maintain his form into the final week look to be subsiding. Interestingly he has said in an interview that Mitchelton will now look to defend the jersey rather than continue to gain time and this could mean we see him sitting tight rather than reaching out for yet another win. While this is plausible if the scenario in the final kilometres sees only him and a few GC guys left then there’s no reason for him not to attack and I think we will see him make it stick.

Fabio Aru’s performances since he was dropped on stage 15 have been pretty sensational. His time trial was better than anyone could possibly have predicted and he was looking to attack today when the finish included 60km of flat road. Where he’s found this form from I don’t know but I do know that he’s looking to leave his mark on this race and this could well mean we see him going for the stage win tomorrow. At 31 minutes down he most definitely won’t be the first guy on Simon Yates mind and so will be given plenty of room to get away.

Miguel Angel Lopez seems to have improved steadily throughout the race and desperately needs time and ideally a stage win. He was strong in Sappada, outsprinting the rest of his chase group and he was right up there on the Zoncolan. I think this climb will be where his team shines with the likes of Jan Hirt and Luis Leon Sanchez able to do long pulls to keep the pace high. He’s shown his willingness to attack and goes well from a group where everyone’s on their limit.

I also have a sneaking suspicion this could be a day where we see Pello Bilbao take the limelight. He sits right behind Lopez on GC but we’ve barely seen him all race. He has the strongest finishing kick of anyone in the top 10 which could go a long way on this climb considering it was Alejandro Valverde who was the best of the GC men last time it was used in a GT in 2008.

It will be interesting to see how Tom Dumoulin goes as this climb probably suits him more than any have before it. It’s not too steep and long enough that his diesel style could pay off. He has a pretty strong finishing kick if he can’t get away solo.

Finally Thibaut Pinot could really do with a good result here. The time trial pretty much ended any hope of his winning the GC but he’s still got a shot at a podium and I suspect this is what he’ll have turned his attention to.  TT result aside he’s been strong all race but there’s a worry that he didn’t come out of the rest day too well which may continue over to tomorrow.

If the breakaway does happen to stay clear then look to the usual suspects such as Fausto Masnada from Androni, Giovanni Visconti from Bahrain, Robert Gesink from Lotto and Valerio Conti from UAE. I’ve only named a few here because I don’t think the break will stick but if any of these four are up front then I’d expect them to do some damage.

Tips.

I was hoping Aru might come out at longer odds but he’s been priced up at 9s meaning the bookies are wise to his improved form. Of the favourites I like the look of Pello Bilbao and there’s sure to be some tasty match-ups for stage like this which I will update later.

Outrights –

0.25pts on Pello Bilbao to win at 81 (bet365)

0.1pts Davide Villella to win at 151 (bet365)

0.1pts on Mateo Montaguti at 101 (bet365)

Matchups –

To come

As always make sure you’re following me over on Twitter (@eachwayvelo) for any last minute additions or in-play options.

Giro d’Italia Stage 17 Preview and Betting Tips.

Stage 16 Recap.

Rohan Dennis puts in a blistering time to win Stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia while Yates holds on to pink.

A great TT with a few surprise performances. Mads Pedersen took the early lead and would have been beaten by Ryan Mullen had is not been for the combination of Mullen cramping and Pedersen drafting his team car. He was later penalised 30 seconds for doing so.

Alex Dowsett put in a strong ride to take the lead but wasn’t sat there long as we saw Tony Martin return to the form of a few years ago with a huge time that looked like it could take the day. Van Emden came close but it was Rohan Dennis who was the only man able to beat it, clocking a time of 40 minutes at an average speed of 51.3kph. Mind boggling stuff.

Behind Dumoulin put in a strong ride but probably not as good as he was hoping while Simon Yates did better than expected and retained the pink jersey. The surprise of the day was Fabio Aru who posted a top 5 time when he crossed the line but was later docked 20 seconds as he’d gained some assistance from the Italian camera bikes.

In terms of GC.

Simon Yates put in a great ride to retain the pink jersey despite a strong effort from Tom Dumoulin while Chris Froome was solid, gaining time on all but Dumoulin and moving back into the top 5. Pinot was the biggest loser, ceding over 3 minutes to Dennis and moving over 4 minutes down to Yates on GC.

Betting.

Another good day punting! Our boy Ben O’Connor absolutely smashed Carapaz to bring home the H2H and if you follow me over on twitter you’ll have got on Rohan Dennis to win at 5.5 (unibet) just after he went through the first time check. Even if you didn’t you will still have got a nice 4pt return from today.

Parcours.

155km in the North of Italy from Riva del Garda to Iseo. Despite being in the foothills of the Dolomites the route will avoid the high mountains and opts instead for a bumpy route with only a single categorised climb.

The riders will climb immediately from kilometre zero for 10km up to Molina di Ledro. It’s uncategorised but by most peoples standards is a pretty tough challenge, averaging 5%.

The riders will then descend for a long while until they hit the 3rd category climb to Lorino, another 10km ascent but this time at only 4%. Beyond this there is only one more serious climb at around 65km to go and after descending this it’s flat into the finish town of Iseo.

The final kilometres are pretty straightforward by Giro standards bar a few roundabouts and the usual street furniture. Whether it’s a breakaway or a bunch sprint it shouldn’t cause any issues.

Race Strategy.

Today is a day for the breakaway. The opening climb up to Molina di Ledro is the perfect launchpad for a strong group to form and the bumpy terrain will take it’s toll on the sprinters who will be feeling some serious fatigue at this point in the race.

The GC teams really won’t want a hard day with the triplet of mountain stages we have coming up. I think this will work heavily in the breaks favour as it’s been these teams that tended to keep the break on a tight leash and not the sprinters teams.

We haven’t had a break stick so far and while this isn’t a reason to say one will tomorrow I think it will mean lots of teams are still pretty unsatisfied with their Giro and will have had their eyes on tomorrow for a while. Expect lots of action in the opening kilometres (not that we’ll see it as the climb is largely tunnelled) and for a strong break to go, potentially quite a large one.

A lot of usual suspects will make the break tomorrow and of those it will be Tony Martin who will take the win.

Contenders.

This is really a tough stage to call as it could go a number of ways. If it ends up coming down to a sprint then it’ll be one of Elia Viviani or Sam Bennett, both of whom have been brilliant so far with Viviani getting the edge in pure speed and Bennett seemingly the more versatile rider. If the break does stick, and I think it will, then it could be any number of guys.

You can’t go wrong with Luis Leon Sanchez on a stage like this. He has the climbing ability to make the break and then push the pace on the first half of the stage but he also has the raw watts to get away from a small group when it gets to crunch time later in the race. He didn’t look to be gunning it in the TT, practically gaining a second rest day and with Lopez continuing to slip down the GC it’s likely he’ll given even more freedom.

Of similar ilk is Tony Martin. He will be fuming after coming so close to his first GT stage win since 2014 and tomorrow looks like the perfect day for him to channel this into a win. He’s shown some of his best form in years so far in this race and I think he has a great chance of making the break and then attacking it on the flat run in. It’s tough to tell if today’s effort will put him off going on the attack tomorrow but by professional standards a 40 minute effort isn’t too taxing and I think he’ll be massively up for tomorrow.

Matteo Montaguti has been exceptional so far in this Giro. He’s already made a number of breaks and has tended to be one of the last men standing. His climbing ability should make the first half of the stage feel relatively pedestrian giving him more energy for the fast finale. If he were to win he would have to go solo as he doesn’t pack much of a sprint but with the form he’s got I think this is entirely possible.

Matej Mohoric has already won from a late attack in this Giro but as a young rider I’m sure he won’t be satisfied. He’s got the potential to be a serial stage hunter in the future and is arguably one of the best from a breakaway situation already. He finished nearly 3 minutes down on Dennis today which is by no means slow but he clearly wasn’t giving it is all. He’s looked strong all race and has the ability to use even small rises to create a gap between himself and his breakaway compatriots.

The breakaway would not be complete without an Androni rider or two and they deserve a win for their efforts so far. The most likely of these is probably Davide Ballerini who could use his top-end speed in a sprint from the breakaway as could Francesco Gavazzi who has looked particularly strong this Giro with two top 10’s.

Talking of fast finishers, I quite like the look of Koen Bouwman for this stage as well. His strong finishing kick could be perfect if small group comes to the finish but I’m worried that at 24 he’s starting to feel the strain this far into a Grand Tour.

Final mention goes to Nico Denz who is on a bit of a breakthrough. He rode well in the TT beating a number of the GC guys and placing inside the top 25. His confidence will be sky high and he possesses immense power on the flat and a good sprint.

Tips.

Unfortunately a lot of these guys have been priced pretty conservatively and with tomorrow’s stage so unpredictable I’m not sure their worth backing. Instead I’ve gone with a bit of fun on some longshots that could be saving themselves for tomorrow and guys that have shown some form earlier in the race.

0.1pts on Mads Wurtz Schmidt to win at 126 (bet365)

0.1pts on Lars Ytting Bak to win at 201 (bet365)

0.1pts on Marco Frapporti to win at 251 (bet365)

0.1pts on Marco Coledan to win at 301 (bet365)

0.1pts on Mattia Cattaneo to win at 126 (bet365)

Also keep an eye on the Exchanges for some long prices on the riders mentioned under Contenders.

Match Ups –

Tough stage for match ups, will update when more bookmakers have prices up.

 

As always keep an eye out on Twitter(@eachwayvelo) throughout pre-event and throughout the stage to keep up to date with any bets of the exchanges or in-play.

Giro d’Italia Stage 16 Preview and Betting Tips

Stage 15 Recap.

Simon Yates rides away on the final classified climb of the day to take his third stage win and further increase his overall classification lead.

A fast start to the race which saw aggressive racing all the way up and over the first classified climb. A 26-man break eventually made it clear and quickly gained 3 minutes on the peloton. Behind, Education First weren’t happy with their breakaway option of Sacha Modolo and decided to take up the chase. The race eventually came back together despite the best effort of Nico Denz and Giulio Ciccone and from here it was blown apart by Sam Oomen of Sunweb.

Despite his impressive performance the day before Froome was unceremoniously dropped and the front group was thinned down to Yates, Dumoulin, Lopez, Pinot, Pozzovivo and Carapaz. Yates attacked once but was brought back before he counter attacked his own attack at at 17km to go. He did what is becoming his signature look behind before unleashing flying up the road and despite their best efforts no-one was able to follow. The rest of the group leaned on Dumoulin to do much of the chasing before trying to drop him on the final climb however he made it back and they finished 41 seconds behind Yates with Froome coming in a further 51 seconds back.

In terms of GC.

Simon Yates extended his lead further, now 2:11 ahead of second placed Dumoulin. Froome lost time and dropped back down to 7th as Lopez and Carapaz moved up a place each into 5th and 6th respectively. Fabio Aru dropped out of contention completely finishing nearly 20 minutes down adding to his already poor 5 minute deficit.

Betting.

A few good days on the bounce now with another match-up coming off. Blog favourite Ben O’Connor finished well up on Carlos Betancur to bring home 5 points from the 2 that we staked.

Parcours.

The 16th stage of the Giro is a 34. 2 kilometre individual time trial. Not as long as some of those in times gone by but by modern standards it’s a beast and one that could see some serious time gaps.

Starting in Trento the first half of the course is pan flat and largely nontechnical as it sticks to a wide valley road. At 12.9km we get the first time check and from here the road gets slightly bumpier with lots of little rises to throw the riders off their rhythm.

At 23.9km there is a 500m climb that features double digit gradients and this is backed up by a 1km false flat that averages 3%. As the riders come into the finish town of Rovereto they will be going uphill again at gradients around 3-4% before tackling a very short section of pave at 500m to go. The last 5km is highly technical and includes a U-turn, a double chicane and 5 ninety degree turns. Those with tired minds will need to really concentrate in these closing moments.

Race Strategy and Weather.

In theory this is a day perfect for the big-hitters and we could see some guys further down on the GC reignite their chances with a good effort.

The first time check will be a key marker as to who is going well but push too hard here and you will really pay for it in the hillier second half. Coming after the rest day will be tricky for some and it’ll be interesting to see who has benefitted from the day off and who hasn’t.

The weather is looking typical of the Giro so far with low winds but the very real chance of thunderstorms. Such a technical finish will be tough in the dry but on rain-soaked Italian roads it will be treacherous.

Provided the weather remains relatively consistent throughout the day I am sure we will see Tom Dumoulin pull off his second stage win of the race.

Contenders.

Tom Dumoulin is the Time-Trial World Champion and he’s already won a TT at this race. This course suits him even more than the opening day in Jerusalem did. He’s looked in incredible form all through the race and pulled off an awesome ride on the Zoncolan to keep himself in contention. Shameful tactics from Carapaz and Lopez yesterday forced him to do much of the work keeping Yates within sight and yet despite that he still managed to pull himself back up for a 3rd place. He might prefer a slightly bumpier course than the one we have tomorrow but his time trial stage wins in the Vuelta and the Tour prove that he’s more than capable on TT’s of this legnth and elevation. He knows this is his big chance to take the pink jersey and could be the most decisive stage of the whole race in deciding the winner come Rome.

Rohan Dennis will also have his eyes on this stage. Like Dumoulin he’s emerged as one of the best in the world on stages like this and looks to be in good form, impressively only 6 minutes down on GC and just outside the top 10. Most of his big wins have come in TT’s a lot shorter than this one but he knows with a good ride here a top 1o is well within reach and I’m sure he will pull out a great time. Will he beat Dumoulin? I don’t think so but if anyone does then it’ll probably be him.

Not long ago Chris Froome would have been untouchable in a time trial like this. Can he come up with the goods tomorrow? His form has been all over the place so far, seemingly back to his best on Zoncolan only to lose time again in Sappada. I have a feeling he’s going to go well tomorrow off the back of the rest day. He’s clearly slightly heavier than his Tour weight but this won’t be a problem tomorrow. This really is last chance saloon for Froome, a poor ride here and he’s out of the race whereas a good ride and it could be all to play for.

Two guys who are still in this race purely for this stage are Jos van Emden and Victor Campenaerts. Campenaerts was impressive on the stage 1 time trial, only 2 seconds down on Dumoulin and with the same time as Dennis. His European title was on a similarly fast course and he’ll definitely believe he’s got what it takes to win. In contrast van Emden went completely missing on stage 1 and finished almost a minute down on the winner. His stage win in the Giro last year came on the final stage so he has proved he’s capable of strong performances deep into a race and he’ll want to get something out of tomorrow to make up for stage 1.

Another couple of guys to watch out for are Ryan Mullen and Tony Martin. As I said in my stage 1 preview Mullen is due a big win and most definitely has the power at his disposal. He’ll be pleased to see some flat roads and I’m excited to see what he can do this far into a Grand Tour. Tony Martin may not be the time-trialling demigod that he used to be but he’s been highly visible so far and seems to be in good form. Is this the day we see the return of the Panzerwagen? Alex Dowsett is in a similar situation with good results in the past and showing some good form so far here. Like on stage 1 I think he will go better than expected.

I’m going to give final mentions to Simon Yates and Thibaut Pinot. Simon Yates was surprisingly good in stage 1 and has looked untouchable so far this Giro. Is there anything he can’t do? A stage win might be out of reach but I can envision him getting a surprise top 3. Pinot on the other hand has some pedigree in time-trialling after steadily improving throughout his career. A podium is a much more realistic target for Pinot and he will be keen to put some time into the pure climbers around him on GC.

Tips.

Dumoulin is the likely winner but his price is far too short to get behind. I like the look of Froome at such long odds and I’ve also gone with Dowsett and Yates to get top 3. Yates at 51 for a bit of fun because he’s surprised us so much in this Giro why not again tomorrow and Dowsett at 12 because I think this course really suits.

Outrights –

0.5pts on Froome to win at 17 (unibet)

0.25pts on Yates top 3 at 51 (unibet)

0.5pts on Alex Dowsett top 3 at 12 (unibet)

Match Ups –

3pts on O’Connor tb Richard Carapaz at 1.75 (unibet)

Giro d’Italia Stage 15 Preview and Betting Tips.

Stage 14 Recap.

Chris Froome takes off with 5km to go and clings on for his first Giro stage win, a time bonus and a massive confidence boost.

Raise your hand if you backed Chris Froome? Not many did after his slow start to this race but the performance of Team Sky on stage 14 was reminiscent of their very best. Wout Poels set a relentless pace on the lower slopes of the Zoncolan until Chris Froome unleashed his signature seated attack with around 5km to go. The move dropped Dumoulin and Pinot but Pozzovivo, Yates and Lopez were able to bridge over only to be distanced soon after as they preferred to watch each other than to keep an eye on Froome.

Froome’s gap slowly grew until Yates decided the pace in the group behind wasn’t to his liking and attempted to bridge. Initially he closed quickly but once the gap got down to around 8 seconds he seemed to slow and Froome was able to maintain the gap all the way to the line. Behind Pozzovivo ‘outsprinted’ Miguel Angel Lopez and Tom Dumoulin and Thibaut Pinot dragged themselves over the line only a short while later.

In terms of GC.

A big shake up but not as drastic as we all expected. Yates pulls out more time on all his rivals bar Froome although only took 31 seconds (plus a 6 second time bonus) on Dumoulin. Fabio Aru lost beaucoup time and is now more than 5 minutes down. Froome and Lopez were the biggest movers, jumping from 12th to 5th and 10th to 6th respectively. Pozzovivo was also able to leapfrog Pinot up to 3rd.

Betting.

Solid win with our match up double to secure a 6.9pts return with Lopez beating Dumoulin and Pinot beating Formolo. Dumoulin rode well but had no chance on a climb purely about w/kg (although what this says of Froome’s performance I don’t know!)

Parcours.

176km from Tolmezzo to Sappada, a tough day in isolation but made even more difficult with the fatigue from Zoncolan still a major factor.

The riders begin climbing straight out of the gate and barely stop for 48km until they crest the first KOM of the day. A quick descent before they begin climbing again at 75km all the way up to the cat 2 Passo Tre Croci, 8.1km at 7.1%.

A much longer descent this time leads the riders into a rollercoaster of a finish. Three tough climbs will greet the riders beginning with the 8.3km, 7.5% Passo di Sant’Antonio, followed by the Costalissoio which begins with 2.5km at 10.5%. The final climb up to the finish at Sappada starts of easy averaging 3.8% before a sharp section at 8.2% at 4km to go. The final 200m are then very slightly downhill.

Race Strategy.

A tough stage in isolation made tougher by Monte Zoncolan the day before. We are yet to see a successful breakaway and I think this trend will continue. Sky and Astana look to be gaining strength and this will add to the impressive work of Mitchelton-Scott in neutralising anything that goes up the road.

I suspect with the tough finish we will see at least one of the GC teams attempt an ambush. The confidence of Froome and Lopez will surely be renewed after Zoncolan and Yates will know that he still needs more time before the TT.

This could well be the stage in which we see a GC rider slightly further down in the pecking order try a long ranger, think Fabio Aru or Davide Formolo while there’s also a good chance that teams try to send a man up the road to support their GC man later in the race.

This is a day where those who are truely strongest will rise to the top and I expect we will see a repeat win from Chris Froome.

Contenders.

I said earlier in the race that Chris Froome would come good and it looks like it’s happening. If you’ve ever ridden in the mountains before you’ll understand how impressive his win today really was. To pull his 69kg frame up the Zoncolan at the speed he did takes guts and some serious power and I expect everyone will be going into the final week incredibly worried. To add to this Wout Poels also pulled off an exceptional ride to set Froome up and crossed the line only a minute down despite all his work on the front. Froome has a big deficit to overcome and will want to capitalise on his turn of fortune. Expect Sky to make the pace difficult in the final 40km to get rid of as many riders as possible before allowing Froome to attack. He’s looked shaky on the bike so far but with his confidence boosted I think we could well see Froome going on one of the descents tomorrow and riding it into the finish.

Arguably Simon Yates is still the man to beat. It will be interesting to see how his legs react to his ride up the Zoncolan as he’s still pretty untested this far into a grand tour however on paper and based on his form so far this finish should really suit. If it’s all together going into the final climb then he has a great chance at taking his 3rd win.

Equally this finish could really suit Thibaut Pinot. He did a little worse than expected on Zoncolan and will be looking for opportunities to take time. Despite his improvements in time trialling over the past few years he will still need a serious buffer over Froome and Dumoulin. Like Yates he has a good finishing kick and so will go well if the race is still together on the final climb. I do worry however that his relatively poor team will prove to be problematic if the race goes nuts in the final 40km.

Will Fabio Aru look to recoup his losses on Zoncolan with an audacious attack 70km? Probably not but I like to think it’s something he has in his locker. I’d also like to see what Ben O’Connor can do. It’s similar (sort of) to the stage he won in the TotA and he may well be given some wiggle room.

Final GC guy I will give a mention to is Michael Woods. He had a bout of illness earlier in the race but seems to have gotten over this now with an impressive ride on Zoncolan which included a few hundred metres off the front. He will like the shorter climbs offered up tomorrow and might benefit from a bit of panic in the bunch.

While I think the pace of the peloton will be too much for a breakaway to stay away I can’t write off the possibility that this is finally the day we see a move stay clear. The bookies seem to think this is the day for Giulio Ciccone and he’s certainly got a good chance if he makes it up the road. Robert Gesink and Ben Hermans will also be looking for a win from the breakaway and have been pretty quiet in the past few stages, potentially saving their energy for days like today. Hugh Carthy showed himself early on Zoncolan and has been steadily improving throughout the race with a stage like this being right up his alley. Similar can be said of his teammate Joe Dombrowski although he’s been pretty anonymous in the Giro so far save for some domestique work done on the front of the bunch. Finally Jarlinson Pantano will be very keen to show something as will Alessandro De Marchi.

Tips.

Again it’s a bit of a lottery tomorrow so bet with caution. I think Froome is priced pretty long at 19 and I really like the look of Carthy after his effort on the lower slopes of the Zoncolan. I’ll also chuck a very small bet on Ben O’Connor in the hopes he can benefit from some hesitation.

Outrights –

1pt on Chris Froome to win at 19 (bet365)

0.25pts on Hugh Carthy to win at 67 (bet365)

0.1pts on Ben O’Connor to win at 101 (bet365)

Matchups –

2pts on Ben O’Connor tb Carlos Betancur at 2.55 (unibet)

 

Giro d’Italia Stage 14 Preview and Betting Tips.

Stage 13 Recap.

Elia Viviani is once again the man to beat as he expertly negotiates the chaos of the final kilometre to take his third stage win of the race.

Finally a straightforward day in the Giro! No rain, no wind and a breakaway of pretty nonthreatening pro conti riders. It was business as usual as the peloton kept the breakaway within about 4 minutes before they began to reel them in and brought the gap to only 20 seconds as they crested the only categorised climb of the day.

Perhaps surprisingly it was the GC teams that could be seen to the fore as they descended into the finish with Bahrain, FDJ and Michelton all active. The sprinters teams left it late with Lotto Jumbo dialling in a solid leadout and Quickstep looking unusually ragged. Nevertheless when Modolo jumped it was Viviani that was first to his wheel and then first past it as he sailed over the line for the victory with a late charge from Sam Bennett securing second. Special mention also to Marco Coledan of Wilier who took a flyer with 2km to go and if it weren’t for the false flat in the final 300m may have made it.

In terms of GC.

No troubles, all the GC riders made it home safely with their eyes firmly set on tomorrow.

Betting.

Had a busy end to the week at work so wasn’t able to get previews up for the past couple of stages but if you follow me over on twitter you’ll have seen my bets for the day were Elia Viviani to win at 2.8, Modolo to win at 13 and Sam Bennett top 3 at 1.33. Viviani’s price seemed an overreaction to the last couple of days so was very pleased to see that come off and Bennett coming in just behind made it a really good day!

Parcours.

186km from San Vito al Tagliamento to the infamous Monte Zoncolan. There are plenty of climbs along the lengthy route but it’s a day that’s all about the final climb.

The riders will reach the first climb, Monte di Ragogna, at 40km and if a breakaway hasn’t already formed it’s sure to here. A testing 60km later they hit the second climb of the day, a tough 4.5km climb with 2km at an average of 13%. Over the next 75km the riders will tackle the 2nd category Passo Duron, 4.4km at 9.8% and then latterly the Sella Valcalda, 7.6km at 5.6%.

These climbs will all pale into insignificance when the race then hits the bottom of Zoncolan at 175km. The initial couple of kilometres are comparatively easy, averaging ‘only’ 9.4% before the real fun starts about 8km from the top. Between kilometres 2 and 6 the riders will climb at an average of 15.4% (with sustained periods around 17%) and between kilometres 6 and 8 they will climb at an average of 13.9%. The final couple of kilometres are then 7.1% and 8.9% respectively. The hardest climb in Europe? Quite possibly.

Race Strategy.

Breakaway or no breakaway? Last time up the Zoncolan Michael Rodgers won from a huge breakaway that was nearly 5 minutes ahead of the GC guys at the finish line. In every year before that it was a GC showdown.

I think lot’s of guys will be keen to get in the break sensing the opportunity of a big win but I don’t think it will stick. We’ve got plenty of evidence to reinforce the strength of the Mitchelton-Scott guys, so much so that their mountain domestique Mikel Nieve hasn’t had to put his nose in the wind yet. The break won’t be given more than 4 or 5 minutes which will be  nowhere near enough at the bottom of Zoncolan.

Once they hit the bottom of the climb lots of teams will try to take control but riders will be dropped very quickly and I suspect very few will have many helpers left after only 4 or 5km. This should be the stage where Astana really shine. They’ve lost Tanel Kangert but the likes of Jan Hirt, Pello Bilbao and Andrey Zeits should be able to do a good job of keeping the pace high for Miguel Angel Lopez. Mitchelton and Sky should also have men up front and I’m sure Jack Haig is set to play a big role in protecting the maglia rosa for Simon Yates.

As we saw in 2014, Monte Zoncolan is test of W/Kg. Big attacks are useless because they require such high power. The strongest man will win by just riding away from the rest and this man will be Domenico Pozzovivo.

Contenders.

Simon Yates has looked unbeatable every time the road has tilted up so why bet against him now? He’s sub-60 kilos and has one of the strongest teams in the race around him. He knows he needs to take time on Dumoulin before the TT and has shown no hesitation when going on the attack so far. I expect him to go on the toughest slopes in the mid section of the climb and take ample time on Tom Dom and Froomey.

Likewise, Domenico Pozzovivo will know this is where he has to make it count. Despite being 35 he’s in arguably the best form of his life and has been incredibly consistent so far with 7 top 10s out of a possible 13. One of the lightest in the race and a diesel engine that can work away at gradients like this I think this will be the day that we see a Pozzovivo attack finally stick.

Thibaut Pinot is the last of the guys that I think has a really good chance tomorrow. Like Yates and Pozzovivo he’s shown career-defining form so far and he’ll want to use this to full effect before the fatigue really starts to kick in on the final week. He’s pretty big for a climber but tends to enjoy steeper slopes and looks leaner than ever. He’s shown he’s got the best finishing kick of the GC favourites so if they can’t shake one another before the final 200m then Pinot has a great chance.

Before the Giro this stage would have had Miguel Angel Lopez’s name all over it but he hasn’t shown enough so far to warrant being a favourite for me. He’s over 3 minutes down on GC so if  the race isn’t already out of his hands then it most certainly will be here unless he’s able to take some significant time. His team also haven’t looked at their best but the likes of  Hirt, Zeits and Bilbao should, on paper, give him a significant advantage. I think he’ll finish well and may put some time into Dumoulin and Froome but I can’t see him winning here.

Could Richard Carapaz continue to surprise? The Ecuadorian is having an awesome race so far and despite his high standing on GC may well be given a bit more room than some of the other favourites. His Movistar team will now have their eyes firmly set on the young riders jersey that sits on his back and they’ll want to stick as closely to Miguel Angel Lopez as possible.

Another young buck making a big name for himself is Giulio Ciccone. It would be a fairytale ending for him if he were to pull off the win atop Zoncolan and there’s almost no doubt that he’ll give it his best shot. He can climb with the best as he’s proved on all the mountainous stages so far but is now over an hour down on GC so there’s no incentive to follow him when he attacks. He’ll most likely be given room but will he have the legs?

I can also see the wiry frame of George Bennett going well tomorrow. So far he’s managed a very stealthy 6th on GC and will hope that Zoncolan lives up to it’s chaotic reputation. He hasn’t shown himself near the front at all so far which could well be a good thing meaning he’s saved his energy for this stage and the final week. He’s good at following wheels and will hope that the attacks fly so that he can benefit from the ensuing panic.

For Chris Froome, Tom Dumoulin and Fabio Aru tomorrow will be all about damage limitation. Of the three Dumoulin has the potential to go really well but at nearly 70kg he’s going to have to put out near enough 430 watts for the entire ascent. A tough ask on a good day yet alone after 4 categorised climbs and 2 weeks of hard racing. Aru and Froome have looked off the pace in every stage so far and are well down on GC but I’m thinking they’ve saved their best form for the final week. It seems unlikely but don’t be surprised if they go better than expected tomorrow although I still thinks it’s too early for either to be taking the win.

Final couple of shouts on the off chance that a breakaway does stick. Fausto Masnada has been going well and will love the steep slopes of the Zoncolan as will his lively Colombian teammate Rodolfo Torres. Education First’s Joe Dombrowski hasn’t set the world alight so far this Giro but tends to get better into the third week of a GT and when on form can climb with the best in the world. I’m also going to throw Louis Meintjes into the hat, rarely an attacker he’s so far down on GC that his team must have told him to do something worthwhile and get in a break? Alessandro De Marchi has been on the attack a couple of times and is a great climber and finally Jarlinson Pantano will want to get a result for Trek who at the moment look like they are going to leave the Giro empty handed.

Tips.

Outrights –

0.1pts on Jarlinson Pantano to win at 151 (bet365)

0.25pts on Joe Dombrowski to win at 67 (bet376)

Match Ups –

3pts on Miguel Angel Lopez tb Tom Dumoulin and Thibaut Pinot tb Davide Formolo at 2.4 (bet365)

Giro d’Italia Stage 11 Preview and Betting Tips.

Stage 10 Recap.

Matej Mohoric wins a thrilling stage where Esteban Chaves dropped out of GC contention and Simon Yates extended his lead.

Everyone expected the opening climb to cause fireworks and it didn’t disappoint. As predicted, a strong group of riders including Giulio Ciccone and Tony Martin used it as a launchpad to set up the days breakaway  and take the early KOM points but of greater significance was the impact it had on Esteban Chaves, who was unceremoniously dropped and then dropped some more as Sky and Team Subweb came to the front to keep the pace high and lengthen the gap.

He was well supported with 3 teammates to work for him and QuickStep also pitched in with the aim of getting Viviani back to the front. Over 100km of chasing though and they weren’t able to make a significant dent in their deficit and QS sat up with Michelton following suit shortly after.

Up front the peloton must have got word because they too began to take it easy and it was at this point that Androni rider Marco Frapporti set off on the most masochistic of solo raids with around 80km to go. He quickly got a good gap but was reeled in relatively easily about 40km later at which point Matej Mohoric and Davide Villella attacked while the GC favourites watched, their minds focused only on getting back to the hotel in what had been a brutal stage thus far.

A counter attack was then launched by Sergio Henao and De Marchi alongside yet another Androni rider and AG2R’s young rider Niko Denz. Of the four, Denz was the strongest and was the only one able to make it across to Mohoric and Villella. The constant up and down got the better of Villella leaving Mohoric and Denz to ride it into the finish and despite sitting on for the final kilometre Denz was unable to get on top of the gear and Mohoric stomped home for his second grand tour stage win.

In terms of GC.

Chaves post rest-day ‘jour sans’ meant that he lost over 25minutes and drops completely out of GC contention. It’s a result that firmly answers the question of leadership at Michelton and after Yates gifting him the win on Etna I’m sure Chaves won’t have a problem giving his all as a domestique.

At the intermediate sprint Simon Yates piggy-backed off Tibaut Pinot’s leadout and managed to take a couple more seconds and therefore marginally extends his lead in the overall classification.

Betting.

Not a great day but who would have predicted we’d see such carnage! The early break did include both Tony Martin and Giulio Ciccone while Koen Bouwman looked incredibly strong late on in the stage helping out George Bennett so I’m happy with my picks. Good omens for when the break does finally stick!

Parcours.

Another lumpy day in store which should be ideal for a breakaway. Again stage 11 begins with road going uphill although it’s much gentler and the stage overall is much shorter at only 159km. They top the first categorised climb at 41km to go and if they breakaway didn’t form on the run in to the climb then it will do here.

The next categorised climb begins 46km later and tops out with 59km to the finish line although this being the Giro it’d be foolish to think this was the last of the climbing for the day. Once they descend off the Valico di Pietra Rossa the riders will be greeted to series of short climbs, the toughest of which is the Filottrano, 1.8km at 7.8% with slopes over 15%, which comes 30km from the finish.

As they head towards the technical finish in Osimo the riders will face two more short climbs, one of which is cobbled before a twisting finale and a steep, 2km cat 4 climb up to the line.

Race Strategy.

It’s about time a break sticks and this stage will have been marked by plenty of riders well before the Giro begun. I think the stage is far too tough for Viviani which takes one of the strongest teams out of contention and to compound this I believe a lot of the GC teams will be eager for a slightly easier day after stage 10 turned into absolute carnage.

The Passo del Cornello (8.5km at 4.4%) will provide a good opportunity for a talented breakaway to go clear and if it’s makeup is satisfactory to the GC teams then I think this’ll be the last that the peloton sees of them.

Today is finally the day for Giulio Ciccone. He will make the early break and then attack within the final 30km to hit the bottom of the final climb alone, reaching the top only seconds before his breakaway compatriots.

Contenders.

Enrico Battaglin is in the form of his life right now. He’s already won a stage and has two 4th places since then, proving he’s in the hunt for another. Whether he goes for the breakaway or not he’s a good pick as he has shown he’s the best in the race at this kind of finish. If he’s not in the break and it’s brought back then I’m confident he can still finish it off.

Giulio Ciccone made the break today and will look to try again tomorrow. He was a big pick for many yesterday but today’s bumpy final 30km will suit him even more. As I wrote yesterday he’s an incredibly exciting rider to watch and tomorrow could really suit his attacking style. He’ll attack whether the road is going uphill or down and won’t be afraid to go earlier rather than later.

Tim Wellens had an easier day than many today, finishing with the Chaves group more than 25 minutes down. I think he stayed with this group out of choice rather than necessity as the final for this stage suits him perfectly and is very similar to the profile of De Brabatse Pijl, a race he one in convincing style earlier in the year. Like Battaglin he has a great chance of winning whether it’s from a break or from the chasing pack.

Another rider that will do well if it does come back together is Michael Woods although he’s a serial podium placer and a rare winner. Also Max Schachmann who was hampered by crashes earlier in the race on the two stages similar to tomorrow and given a clean run could go well in a bunch finish.

We must be due an Astana win by now? I’ll put my hands up and say I’ve incorrectly predicted an Astana rider will make the break on a number of occasions and I’m starting to wonder where their TotA form has disappeared to. Pello Bilbao could be a great option for a day like this as could Luis Leon Sanchez although its Davide Villella who’s been the most active in the breakaways (although surely this is too much after his efforts on stage 10).

Tony Martin just can’t catch a break (literally!). He finally made the break today only for it to be swallowed up by a charging peloton intent on putting as much time between themselves and Chaves. I’m not sure today is the day for him but if he can infiltrate the break then the technical final will aid his attempts to get away solo.

Another rider I think has a slight chance is Jarlinson Pantano. 8th in today’s stage is a great sign of his improving form and Trek will be keen to take something from what has so far been a pretty anonymous showing at the Giro. He’ll look for the early move and is good value for a solo dig in the finale.

I’m also going to throw in a couple of Androni riders as it’s almost a guarantee that one will be in the breakaway. Frapporti is unlikely to have the strength tomorrow after his attempts on stage 10 but Fausto Masnada may well have recovered from his efforts on Sasso by now and could go well. I’ll also go with Francesco Gavazzi after his strong showing and top 10 today.

Finally I’ll mention a couple of guys with an outside chance tomorrow. Nico Roche has been quiet thus far but can be great for days like this. He finished with the front group today so the strength is there. Similarly Manuele Boaro finished well with the front group today and will be strong whether in a small group or on his own tomorrow. Trouble is that he may be deployed in a helper role for Pozzovivo with little room for movement.

Tips.

Bit more fun tomorrow, I’ve gone with a couple guy with long prices.

Outrights –

0.25pts on Giulio Ciccone to win at 51 (skybet)

0.1pts on Nicolas Roche to win at 125 (bet365)

0.1pts on Manuele Boaro to win at 251 (bet365)

 

 

Giro d’Italia Stage 10 Preview and Betting Tips

Rest Day Recap.

Yates win on the Gran Sasso extended his lead in the GC while Chaves’ 3rd  place moves him up to second.

Parcours.

Stage 10 features 239 lumpy kilometres through central Italy on a day seemingly perfect for a breakaway. The peloton will roll out from Penne and climb immediately up the Fonte Della Creta, a 15km climb at an average gradient of 5%. With the stage coming straight after a rest day plenty of riders will be keen to make the break and I anticipate lots of attacking riding within the first 40minutes.

After the riders have topped the Fonte Della Creta at 19km they will descend and begin 191km of up then down, up then down, up then down (you get the picture). There are two more categorised climbs, the last of which comes with 31km to go and could be a significant factor in deciding the outcome of the stage. It’s only 1.4km long but is preceded by a huge section of false flat so anyone with good legs here could make good use of it’s 7% average.

The final is an interesting one. It’s got plenty of small rises to throw a lone escapee off their rhythm but it’s also very technical which will work against an organised chase. The final turn comes just after 750m to go and the road drops gently all the way to the line.

Race Strategy.

We’ve had a few close calls with the breakaway so far and I think this’ll be the day that it sticks.

The first climb is a cat 2, it’s long and it’s very steep in places. It’s clear the organisers wanted a strong breakaway to go clear today.

This being the day after a rest day it’s a bit of a mystery as to how everyone’s legs are doing. Those that are feeling good will try everything to get in the move and several teams won’t be happy if they haven’t got someone out front. Expect more than one move to look like it’s ‘the one’ before we eventually get a group able to establish a significant gap.

The winner will be someone who can climb and is prepared to risk it all for the win. I therefore think Giulio Ciccone will make the break and take the win via an audacious solo move.

Contenders.

Giulio Ciccone is perhaps one of the most exciting young riders in the world right now. He’s only 23 but was climbing with the GC group on stage 9 and won an equally hilly stage of the Giro as a neo-pro when he was only 21. He’s been incredibly active so far and he was born not far from the start town of Penne so his motivation for a good result will be higher than ever. He most certainly has the strength to make any break that goes on the first climb and he’ll be prepared to attack from the breakaway whether the road is going uphill or down.

I also like the look of Koen Bouwman for this stage. He showed his form on stage 8 by being the last of the break to survive and if it wasn’t for Froome crashing he may well have taken his first win. Even so I think this stage suits him more as he’ll be good on the initial climb and then has an enviable finishing kick that could see him win from a small group. His big win at the Dauphine last year was on an equally bumpy stage and his near miss at the TotA a couple of weeks ago was on even harder terrain. I’m excited to see if he can make the break. If he can, he wins.

Tony Martin has been looking for the breakaway every day so far but has largely been marked out or unable to catch the right move. This stage looks ideal for him. The hills are manageable and there’s a good distance from the final climb to the finish for him to power away.

I’ve said that we’ll see an Astana rider in the break in previous previews and been proved wrong but I’ll stick to my guns and say that we will see Luis Leon Sanchez in the break this time. I think it’s becoming clearer and clearer that MA Lopez doesn’t quite have it for the GC and so Astana will be keen to ensure they at least take something home from this race with stage win. The descent of the final climb is textbook Sanchez. He’s won so many races like this it would be like deja vu to see him winning tomorrow.

There are plenty of other guys who could make the break and go on to win and as is often the story with grand tours it tends to be the same riders over and over again. Tim Wellens already has a stage win but won’t be content with just the one. The final climb was too much for him yesterday but tomorrow is much more up his alley. In contrast Fausto Masnada looked exceptional on the Sasso and maybe the lack of big mountains tomorrow will work against him? Another Androni man that I think probably has the better chance tomorrow is Davide Ballerini. He’s been aggressive and unlike Masnada possesses a strong kick that could see him winning from a small group. Bahrain’s Matej Mohoric looked very strong on Saturday but got little over-excited on the final climb and wasted too much energy chasing down Van Der Sande. He’s got a great mix of ability across all terrains and could really go well. I’d also like to see Guilliaume Boivin back in the breakaway. He was awesome in Israel and has had a few days to collect himself and go again. Finally UAE will look to have a man in the break and this could be either one of Diego Ulissi or Valerio Conti. Both similar riders who are strong on this kind of terrain Ulissi probably possesses the stronger sprint but Conti has looked in better form so far.

Finally I can’t discount the possibility of a sprint. Other than the first climb it’s not a day that’s so tough as to prevent the sprinters from feeling like they can win and this might mean that several teams are willing to commit to the chase. If they do look to Elia Viviani or Sam Bennett to finish it off.

Tips.

Outrights –

0.25pts on Giulio Ciccone to win at 67 (skybet) (shortened from 150s)

0.25pts on Tony Martin to win at 41 (bet365)

0.25pts on Koen Bouwman to win at 51 (bet365)

0.1pts on Giulliaume Boivin to win at 326 (paddy)

*Update:

Also adding 0.1pts on Nathan Brown at 301 (unibet) after thinking about his ride in Romandie with De Gendt

 

 

Giro d’Italia Stage 9 Preview and Betting Tips

Stage 8 Recap.

Richard Carapaz puts in a searing attack just as the break is about to be caught and solos away to the win.

Everyone thought that stage 8 was a day for the breakaway and for about 180km it looked as though this was a good shout as the move contained the likes of Koen Bouwman, Jan Polanc, Matej Mohoric and Rodolfo Torres and had been given a comfortable gap of around 5 minutes. However on the run in to the final climb their gap began to tumble and some heavy rain heightened nerves in the bunch to the point that the fight for the front was doing serious damage to the break’s chances of staying away.

Once they hit the climb the breakaway took turns to attack one another while the peloton continued to close thanks to the work of Michelton’s Jack Haig. For a long time it looked in the balance and it wasn’t until Froome crashed on one of the rain soaked hairpins that Sky decided up front was best place to be and began to push the pace. This brought what was left of the break (just Bouwman at this point) back to within 15 seconds and from here Carapaz sensed the opportunity to attack and did so expertly, bridging to Geniez (who’d attacked moments earlier) and flying up the road to take his first big win.

In terms of GC.

With tomorrow being such a big day I think most teams wanted a pretty easy day today and they seemed to catch the break almost by accident. Froome was all over the place after his crash, but managed to get back on quite comfortably and didn’t lose any time. Thibaut Pinot managed to pick up 3rd place and with it 4 bonus seconds which moves him up to 4th on GC while todays winner Richard Carapaz managed to win by 7 seconds plus take the 10 second time bonus moving him 3 places up into 8th which extends his lead in the young riders jersey.

Betting.

A great days racing but not such a great day at the bookies. Nothing came in for us unfortunately meaning a 2.6pt loss.

Parcours.

The biggest day yet, stage 9 is 225km across the Apennines with a summit finish up the Gran Sasso d’Italia.

The first 100km is bumpy and will be perfect for the breakaway to establish and then consolidate a decent gap. There are two classified climbs before the final climb of the day, the second of which is up Roccaraso, a tough climb but not one that should put anyone in difficulty. Once they crest Roccaraso at 102km to go it’s a long descent into the valley before the climbing begins again at 63km to go.

The final climb of Gran Sasso d’Italia is marked at 26km in length but once they big heading uphill at 63 to go there’s barely a negative gradient in sight and you can be sure that plenty of riders will be out the back before the peloton hits the official start. It’s a tough climb characterised more by it’s length than by it’s gradient although the final 4.5k average over 8% and there are pitches of up to 13%. It will be interesting to see how the riders legs react to this after 200+ kilometres.

Race Strategy.

After the breakaway blowout of stage 8 today could well be the day that we see someone stay clear. It’s a big day and a tough one for the big teams to control however I think the length of the final climb will work against anyone out front and we will see the breakaway brought back for a GC showdown.

I think lots of the big guys will have teammates still in contention as we reach the latter parts of the final climb and the pace will be kept high. Michelton will looks to control with the likes of Jack Haig expected to do a big pull while this could be the first day that we see Chaves demoted to role of teammate. I think Astana will be keen to make their mark and despite Sky seemingly weaker than ever before they will want to have a say in the pacing of the final climb.

The winning move will go within the final 5km and will come from none other than Simon Yates who will have marked a number of attacks up to that point before clipping away himself to add to his lead in the general classification.

Contenders.

After his performance on Etna Simon Yates has to be the prime pick. Michelton are looking stronger and stronger and if push comes to shove they have the option of sacrificing Esteban Chaves into a team role. His current lead is slender, not enough for him to protect in the TT so it’s vital that he looks to take time on stages such as today. I’m not expecting anything drastic but I think he’ll be keen to get away.

Miguel Angel Lopez is proven on high altitude finishes and also has a very strong team. He’s had quite a tough time of it so far, losing more than most in the opening TT and crashing only a couple of days ago. He’s already 2 minutes down on GC and is in desperate need of time. Astana will look to shed as many guys as possible by keeping the pace high before setting Lopez up for an attack. Does he have the legs? He was strong of Etna and the high altitude will tilt things even more in his favour. He’ll most definitely have a crack.

I really like the look of Thibaut Pinot. This climb isn’t so steep and should suit him. He was aggressive yesterday leading out the sprint for bonus seconds and was unlucky on Etna to be caught out by Yates who’s attack came right after his own. His team may not be quite a strong as the other GC guys but I don’t think this should be too much of an issue as he only needs to follow wheels and then utilise his impressive sprint in the finale.

Similarly big Tom Dumoulin be liking his lips at a climb like the Sasso. It’s not so punishing that it’s a pure test of W/kg and could suit someone with his ability to sustain high power for extended periods. My only worry it the altitude, it’s by no means the highest the Giro’s ever been but it enough to cause Dumoulin issues as he’s had problems at altitude before (although this may have been a misdiagnosis of his dietry problems). He knows he’s got the TT in hand but I’m not sure he’ll want to put all his eggs in one basket and if he sees the opportunity to go here there’s no doubt he’ll take it.

I also like the look of Domenico Pozzovivo. He’s seemed undroppable for the past few weeks a like many of the climbers will feel like he needs to gain time prior to the TT. He tends to lack some explosivity but the length of this climb will suit his diesel style and if he can slip away he won’t be brought back easily.

Could Richard Carapaz do the double? He’s climbing with the best despite a lack of team support and isn’t such a threat to GC so could be given some room. His win was on stage 8 was awesome but I wouldn’t read too much into it as the GC guys closed the gap pretty quickly once they opened up the sprint.

Fabio AruGeorge Bennett and Chris Froome are the last of the GC guys with a chance today. I really want to see Aru do well but he just isn’t showing the kind of form that suggests he will while Bennett has climbed well so far with good finished both yesterday and on Etna but I’m not sure is significantly stronger than anyone else and will almost definitely be beaten in a sprint. Froome is priced at 28s, the likes of which we haven’t seen on stage like this since his breakthrough Vuelta ride. I think he’s saving his best form for a big ride in the final week so I don’t expect him to go well here.

Given the outside chance of a break here I’ll also list off a couple of longshots. Having said this is Giulio Ciccone really a long shot? An exception climber with the ability to sniff out the early break. The big teams won’t make the mistake of allowing a GC contender into the break again so Ciccone won’t have to deal with the likes of Chaves and Henao like he did on Etna. As such there’s a good chance he’ll be the strongest climber in the breakaway if he happens to be there. Tim Wellens could go well again and has taken a couple of easier days in preparation. I think the climb will be a a little too tough for him and there’s be better climbers up front but you can’t question his form at the moment and he’s capable of anything. Someone who didn’t easy on stage 8 was Davide Formolo who won the sprint for 2nd and is in good form. He’s got enough of a buffer on GC to be allowed in the break and there’s unlikely to be many stronger. Katusha were angry that they didn’t make the break on stage 8 and will look to make amends to day. This likely means Tony Martin getting in the break and he’s one of big days like this before. Serial breakaway riders Ben Hermans, Robert Gesink and Jarlinson Pantano will also be keen to get up the road but all three have been quiet so far, have they been saving themselves for today? Final shout goes to anyone from Astana. I think they’ll be keen to get someone up the road and several riders have the capacity to win today. I think Jan Hirt is probably the most likely of these but being such a good climber may mean he’s told to keep by the side of Lopez for today.

Tips.

No outrights today but I quite like the look of a couple match-ups.

Match Ups –

5pts Max Schachmann tb Jose Goncalves at 1.6 (unibet)