A day which is an easy affair for the most part, finishing with a tough summit finish of Pratonevoso, ready to put the cat amongst the pigeons as the final week of racing at 2018’s Giro d’Italia truly begins. With little to worry about throughout the day, we can anticipate plenty of fireworks as the peloton begins its final ascent, with many key protagonists likely to have kept their legs relatively fresh on the 196km run from Abbiategrasso. Given the number of skirmishes expected, the concluding climb shall be a ruthless battlefield, one upon which the maglia rosa may well be clinched beyond doubt.
Simon Yates and his team may have stated that the plan will be to ride defensively during the final week of the race, but there is no doubt that the British rider will leap upon any opportunity to take another staggering stage win in the pink jersey. Seemingly a favourite for whichever mountain stages take his fancy most, Stage 18’s final climb plays well to his strengths, allowing him to vary the tempo and keep his rivals shifting in their saddles as he turns the screws. If he does choose to sit on the wheel and be towed to the top, then he still remains a contender, as his sprinting abilities are more than enough to bury the hopes of any likely contenders.
Chris Froome has spoken for some time now that the ambition at the Giro d’Italia was to peak from this stage onwards, meaning today is surely do or die for the Team Sky leader. His recent performance in the time trial suggests his condition is on the up and his penchant for seizing upon the earliest opportunity to stamp his authority is well documented, making Froome an obvious favourite. If he still believes the overall win is possible, then his incredible campaign for the maglia rosa must begin today and in some serious style.
Tom Dumoulin would normally be far better fancied for a finish which allows him to pace it well and ratchet up the tension on his rivals by setting a tempo which is almost impossible to attack from. Unfortunately, the Dutchman is not at the level which has previously secured him grand tour success and Stage 18 might simply be a cause of ensuring he does not lose any further time, until he is at least confident of his form’s hopes of defeating the imperious Simon Yates.
Thibaut Pinot might be the only big name who has the potential to stop Yates from collecting his fourth stage win atop Abbiategrasso, as he is undoubtedly the fastest of the general classification riders in a sprint finish. The Frenchman has not enjoyed the race he expected, especially when old ghosts returned to haunt him as he was left to haemorrhage minutes in the time trial. However, his strength for days such as this is under no question and he often rises to the fore when the day is crowned with such a leg draining summit finish.
1st Chris Froome 2nd Thibaut Pinot 3rd Simon Yates