Though the dust may have settled on this year’s battle for the maglia rosa, Stage 21 provides one final opportunity for riders and teams to make their presence here worthwhile after three weeks of racing. The 163km trip from Cuneo to Torino shall be processional for the most part, but plenty will have learnt from last year’s closing stage that it is far from a nailed on sprint for the sprinters who still remain. Only two of the handful of riders originally earmarked to contest the points jersey classification remain in this contest, meaning today could prove a difficult end to the Giro as late breakaways attempt to steal the show.
Giacomo Nizzolo faces the possibility of chalking up another red jersey victory without having actually won a single stage of the Giro d’Italia. Sacha Modolo is his only true rival and does not seem to have been sprinting at the same level as Nizzolo this year, but does possess a better leadout team as we reach the final day. Nizzolo has lost both Fabian Cancellara and Boy Van Poppel from his train and has already experienced how hard it is to control the peloton in the final kilometres of a flat stage; Roger Klüge the beneficiary of this last time the sprinters had an eye on victory. Last year’s concluding stage was plagued with punctures and provided a technical course which benefited the breakaway attacks by hampering the pursuit from behind, but 2016’s simpler finishing circuit should provide Nizzolo with greater hopes of winning at last.
Sacha Modolo has not been far off the pace of Nizzolo at this year’s race, but struggled to realistically compete during the first week as a result of an inferior Lampre-Merida team compared to last year. Regardless, Modolo has the better leadout train here and will look to capitalise upon a couple of late turns to dominate the front of the peloton before opening up his sprint. Nizzolo is likely to be glued to Modolo’s wheel in the final kilometres, but if he chooses the moment right to light things up, Modolo still has a great chance of winning.
Matteo Trentin shall pick up the mantle here for Etixx-Quick Step and hope to mix it up in the sprint finish while Nizzolo and Modolo are busy watching one another. Trentin has a fantastic turn of speed despite not being a pure sprinter and might just see his odds of winning improve after another attritional Giro d’Italia sees riders pay the price.
Alexander Porsev has sustained an impressive string of results at this year’s Giro, even though his team’s focus has very much been upon mountain goat Ilnur Zakarin. It will be fascinating to see what he can do with the full team at his disposal now, so do not be overly surprised if he pulls off an upset today.
Nikias Arndt warrants a deserved mention for this final stage after placing just behind Giacomo Nizzolo after Roger Kluge stole the show on Stage 17. He has the potential to build upon Lampre-Merida and Trek-Segafredo’s desire to do the most work, so should only need to emerge in the concluding 500 meters as the stage is contested.
The breakaway has a good chance of staying clear late on today, but late moves have a greater potential of going all the way, so look to Daniel Oss, Rick Zabel, Jose Joaquin Rojas, Roger Kluge, Ramunas Navarduaskas and Nicola Boem join the moves.
1st Giacomo Nizzolo 2nd Sacha Modolo 3rd Nikias Arndt