Stage Eight’s 209km passage from yesterday’s finishing town of Praia a Mare to Montevergine di Mercogliano will be a day which catches the eye of plenty within the peloton. With its relatively open array of potential outcomes, the fight to be part of the day’s breakaway is likely to be an intense one, thus a fast start to the stage is expected. Once the break does form, there is not a great deal of climbing to be done between 102km to 155km, meaning the bunch should find it easy to control the escapees; should they wish to at least. Once upon the opening slopes of the day’s finish, it will soon become apparent if the breakaway as the chance to decide the glory amongst themselves or whether the hounding pack of favourites will soon descend upon them to snatch the victory for themselves.
Tim Wellens has been enjoying some sparkling form in 2018 and will look upon this eagerly to double up on his current tally of wins at this year’s Giro d’Italia at the first opportunity since Stage 4. Able to takes his chances from an early breakaway or late move on the final climb, he is one of the most dangerous riders in contention, right now appearing unmatchable on his favoured terrain. He will struggle to catch anyone by surprise now however and could find willing accomplices hard to come by.
Diego Ulissi appeared to be in a fantastic position to contest the win on Stage 5, but hesitated with less than 1km remaining and subsequently lost his shot at victory. Today is a chance to rectify that moment of miscalculation, seeking to make the most of a finale which plays to his strengths convincingly. His greatest hinderance may prove to be his current placing on the general classification, limiting his odds of joining an early move, though he could benefit from an eager Mitchelton – Scott chasing and leap from the pack in the final kilometres instead.
Thibaut Pinot is the big name rider most likely to take the win from a maglia rosa lead group deciding the day’s outcome. The Frenchman is looking extremely strong right now and is riding within himself to avoid peaking too soon it seems, though it still remains apparent how clearly in form he is. Suited to this longer final ascent and capable of producing a convincing sprint finish, Pinot should dominate a surge to the line amongst the general classification contenders.
Giulio Ciccone shall be a wildcard pick for the stage win, but looked so fiesty when attacking upon Etna, it is tough to not consider him a serious player for victory. Likely to be allowed a much greater degree of freedom than the others mentioned above, he has looked to be one of the best climbers already at this year’s Giro d’Italia, though will need a strong performance to compensate for the less than ideal start and finish to Stage 8.
1st Diego Ulissi 2nd Giulio Ciccone 3rd Thibaut Pinot