An intriguing stage, a day borrowed from Tirreno-Adriatico. This stage doesn’t look tough as the y-axis of vertical gain doesn’t look fierce but it’s harder than it seems in the finish. After yesterday’s huddled finish we’ll see if the big names attack but they’ll have tomorrow’s time time on their minds.
Big rock, no roll: hindsight’s a luxury but that’s sort of the point of reviewing the previous day’s stage here. Only for a blogger there’s little to look back at, yesterday’s stage felt like one to quickly forget. Any hindsight probably belongs to many a rider who spent yesterday evening wistfully picking at their pasta while kicking themselves for not going in the day’s breakaway, especially as a quartet just floated away at the start. After Henok Mulubrhan was dropped, it was down to a trio of Davide Bais, Simone Petilli and Karel Vacek away for the day with Bais winning the summit finish sprint. Otherwise there was little sport, the main GC riders huddled in the headwind and Andreas Leknessund stays in pink, the only small clue was Remco Evenepoel sprinting to lead the bunch across the line ahead of Primož Roglič, the Belgian can’t be too sore.
The Route: 207km and 2,500m of vertical gain. It’s uphill from the start via the Valico della Somma, a big wide main road but still with 2km at 6% in the middle and then it’s a steady ride on the Via Flaminia, the old Roman road, to Fossombrone via the scenic Gola del Furlo gorge.
Once in Fossombrone comes the first climb of the day, I Cappucini, the road flicks out of town and suddenly gets very narrow, positioning is crucial here but plenty of riders should know the roads, it was part of Stage 4 of Tirreno-Adriatico in 2019. The profile says 19% but that’s if you chose to go take the inside line on a hairpin bend. Then comes a narrow descent back down to town.
It’s out of Fossombrone on another climb, this one is a little wider but tricky again and longer, it’s much more for the climbers rather than someone hoping to punch over a short wall.
The Finish: up the I Cappucini climb and back down to the finish on the same roads as used before. Passing once before helps but it’s hardly time to memorise the course, especially this twisting route with seven hairpins on the way down. Once in town there’s a left hand bend on to the 700m finishing straight which has a slight rise.
The Contenders: among the big names there’s Primož Roglič for his jump, Remco Evenepoel for the raw power and Tao Geoghegan Hart for his sprint, it’s hard to pick between them but this might be telling, the first two seem ok after crashes.
The breakaway’s got a good chance, especially with the time trial tomorrow meaning the GC riders will want to save energy today… if possible. Brandon McNulty is well done on GC, can UAE let him race today? Samuele Battistella (Astana) was last seen chomping on some arrosticini during yesterday’s stage but is he hungry for the stage? Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) is a perpetual breakaway pick. Ben Healy (EF Education) should like the climbs but he’ll want go to solo over them. Simon Clarke (Israel) can try again and Lorenzo Rota (Intermarché) is a crafty rider with a decent finish.
Healy, Battistella, Clarke, Roglič, Evenepoel, TGH, Rota
Weather: sunshine at first but it’s likely to rain during the stage, 16°C.
TV: KM0 is at midday and the first time up I Cappucini is around 3.30pm. The finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST.