Stage 8’s 186km route from Foligno to Arezzo looks to be perfect terrain for the specialist breakaway riders at this year’s Giro d’Italia to steal another win from the sprinters. Rolling throughout the day, the fireworks are expected to be lit once the riders strike upon the Category 2 Alpe Di Poti, averaging 6.5% before reaching ramps of 14% around the midway point. Depending on how great a lead the day’s break establish before the final climb, there is still a chance that an elite group of riders could duke it out for the win on roads which swing between 5% – 11% late on. If that was not already enough of a cocktail to inspire a stage worth watching, the race organisers have also included stretches of gravel roads along the way.
Tim Wellens put in a fantastic showing to secure Stage 6 after bridging across to the breakaway and then attacking solo to beat his fellow escapees. His condition is clearly very strong right now and certainly has the ability to make it four wins in four days here for Lotto-Soudal and extend his lead in the mountains classification, though he may struggle to find the freedom to do so.
Alessandro De Marchi is a specialist in winning upon stages such as today, rolling along powerfully for large parts of the day, before then dropping the hammer and attacking with everything he has to win. BMC will be looking to take advantage of opportunistic days such as these throughout the Giro and are likely to work hard to get into the key move.
Przemyslaw Niemiec will be an interesting man to watch on Stage 8, though he has no inspiring showings as of late to suggest backing him for the win, this route packs in all of his favoured attributes to lay the foundations for victory. Lampre-Merida have an alternative card to play with Diego Ulissi late on if required, so having Niemiec in the break would save them the effort of having to chase down the breakaway too.
Gianluca Brambilla has the skills to spend the day in the breakaway and then solo or sprint his way to victory on a stage such as today’s. Alongside this, the increasingly active general classification dynamic could still mean any escapees are swept up on the final climb and stage honours subsequently decided by an elite group forming on the downhill section into town. Should this occur, then Brambilla will certainly be one of the biggest dangers to others if present.
Alejandro Valverde will be one of the favourites to take the win on Stage 8 if an elite group of general classification riders ends up deciding the day’s winner. The Spanish rider is fantastic in an uphill sprint, while his descending abilities mean he is well versed in instigating or following attacks downhill. With an individual time trial and rest day following on from today’s stage, it could be a launchpad for an attempt to gain a buffer to his rivals before the race against the clock begins.
Adam Hansen appeared incredibly strong while leading André Greipel out for an unexpected win yesterday when ratcheting the tempo up on the front of the peloton in the final kilometres. Hansen enjoys being part of a breakaway and shall fancy turning anyone else over before the line judging by his current form.
Vincenzo Nibali lost time on Stage 6 and could view the finale here as the perfect opportunity to grab seconds back before the individual time trial. The Italian is never afraid of pushing the tempo downhill to the limit, a move which could perhaps drag the likes of Alejandro Valverde with him too.
Breakaway – 1st Alessandro De Marchi 2nd Adam Hansen 3rd Przemyslaw Niemiec
Elite Sprint – 1st Alejandro Valverde 2nd Gianluca Brambilla 3rd Vincenzo Nibali