Giro d'Italia 2018

Giro d’Italia 2018 – Stage 18 Preview

Course:

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.

Giro d'Italia 2018

Contenders:

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.

Outcome:

1st Chris Froome 2nd Thibaut Pinot 3rd Simon Yates

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Giro d'Italia 2018

Giro d’Italia 2018 – Stage 17 Preview

Course:

With its brutally intense start to the day, Stage 17’s 155km route from Riva del Garda to Iseo, appears to be ideal terrain for the breakaway to strike it lucky in the final week of the race. Beginning with a ludicrously steep incline from the start line, the attacks will come thick and fast, as riders are eager to make the cut to be part of a breakaway which is unlikely to be hotly pursued by the bunch. Much of the day is rolling, despite the fact there is only one official categorised climb present, though the final 50km could prove intriguing if there is enough interest from the bunch to begin reeling the escapees back in late.

Giro d'Italia 2018

Contenders:

Gianluca Brambilla will have certainly been disappointed with how the race has played out before him so far, but Stage 17 could be the perfect opportunity for him to ride aggressively and end the day with a strong chance of the win. Tough enough to deal with the amount of climbing today, Brambilla has a good pedigree for days like these, possessing the important turn of pace required to finish things off once the line draws into sight. Of course, his greatest issue right now is that he looks to be far from his best, but the third week of a grand tour has a levelling effect and could play to the class of such a talented rider.

Enrico Battaglin could close the gap to Elia Viviani’s lead of the maglia ciclamino considerably if he is able to execute the perfect day of racing here. No stranger when it comes to all day breakaways and clearly enjoying the form of his career right now, Battaglin could cause a stir by taking victory on Stage 17. He is one of the few contenders who, if the break’s ranks swell considerably, may even find himself protected by a fellow teammate for much of the day. There is no concern has to his ability to win a sprint either, simply whether he can keep hold of the wheel as his rivals seek to cut him loose before the finish.

Diego Ulissi has been disappointing on far more fitting stages than this, but given the arduous nature of the start today, he is likely to be tempted out once again to try his luck for the win. Talented in both climbing and sprinting, the Italian is an obvious pick to make the day’s breakaway and should find himself as one of the strongest present in such a move, finally able to target glory without the general classification contenders crashing the party.

Matej Mohoric found success earlier in the Giro d’Italia after having timed his breakaway efforts to perfection and he has a very good chance of doing the same once again on Stage 17. A powerful rider who can churn over a big gear to keep the peloton at bay, Mohoric has the firepower necessary to make life very difficult for any late pursuit of his ambitions to collect another win. Admittedly, he was lucky to have won the sprint which decided the honours on Stage 10 and will do well to avoid being beaten to the line on this occasion as well.

Alessandro De Marchi, a seemingly ever present name within the composition of a grand tour breakaway, it almost seems rude to not mention the combative Italian rider. By simply being in the mix, he always as a chance of victory, especially on Stage 17 where life is a lottery and you simply have to be in it to win it.

Outcome:

1st Gianluca Brambilla 2nd Diego Ulissi 3rd Matej Mohoric

Giro d'Italia 2018

Giro d’Italia 2018 – Stage 16 Preview

Course:

The longest time trial at this year’s Giro d’Italia is a 34.2km run from Trento to Rovereto, a course which should suit the more power based riders in contention for the day’s honours, as there is not truly enough ascending to bring the featherweight cyclists into contention. Weather is always crucial when it is a race against the clock and the expectation is that the wind could prove pivotal if it changes direction as anticipated, leaving those who head off earliest with an advantage on Stage 16. 
Giro d'Italia 2018

Contenders:

Tom Dumoulin is reigning world champion in the individual time trial and has long been predicted to win this stage as he seeks to take a sizeable bite from Simon Yates’ current lead, if not consume it entirely and begin cementing his ownership of the maglia rosa. Perhaps more so than ever at a grand tour, Dumoulin has ridden within his limits as often as possible, no doubt realising that the absence of favourable terrain to attack upon in the final week, makes this time trial the cornerstone of a genuine bid at the title. This added freshness will only help him to call upon further firepower as he hopes to execute a crushing victory and set the third week of racing up to be a dramatic battle royale.

Rohan Dennis knows he is capable of matching the Dutchman Dumoulin on such a course, though after an already tough two weeks of racing, Dennis is likely to find it difficult to produce his absolute best today. Another of the time trial specialists whose talent is rooted in being able to sustain as much power as possible for the entirety, Stage 16 is an ideal platform for the Australian to place himself in the frame for a victory during this Giro d’Italia.

Chris Froome must feel like a pendulum as his form swings from one extreme to the next during this race, left to hope that today is a stage where it swings in his favour, which certainly should be the case given his previous dominance of grand tour time trials. However, there is not enough climbing to truly benefit the Team Sky captain and his work will be cut out if he seriously wishes to take a win today. With question marks still remaining as to his current condition, Stage 16 ensure there shall be nowhere to hide if cracks begin to appear, the day ending with certainty as to his general classification hopes.

Alex Dowsett looks to be in his best shape since moving teams during the off season and performed strongly in the opening time trial of this year’s Giro d’Italia. This long power-based course plays to his strengths well, while his current placing on the general classification means he shall be down the start ramp earlier than others here, hopefully taking advantage of favourable weather conditions. The British rider already has a Giro stage win under his belt and there is little to suggest he cannot at least feature in the mix for today’s honours.

Ryan Mullen has long been a specialist when it comes to this drag race style time trials, where it is all about producing as many watts as possible and sustaining that level of power all the way to the finish line. The Irishman has been performing well at this brutally tough edition of the Giro d’Italia, yet there is no doubt that the previous two weeks of racing will have impacted his ability to perform today and could be what hampers him most. However, he is perhaps the only contender here where the distance and terrain suit him almost perfectly, something which a fresh Mullen could certainly convert into a stage win.

Outcome:

1st Tom Dumoulin 2nd Rohan Dennis 3rd Alex Dowsett

Giro d'Italia 2018

Giro d’Italia 2018 – Stage 15 Preview

Course:

Before the riders are able to enjoy the second rest day of this year’s Giro d’Italia, they must first survive another onslaught of mountainous terrain, courtesy of Stage 15’s 176km trek from Tolmezzo to Sappada. Climbing immediately from the start, we can expect to see the type of fierce fight to join the breakaway which has become a regular feature during the opening half of the race so far. Four categorised climbs feature during the day, including a trio of Category 2 ascents in the second part of the stage, making for a draining run into the base of the uphill finish which shall decide the winner.

Giro d'Italia 2018

Contenders:

Simon Yates has ridden with immense flair during his time in the maglia rosa thus far and shall be favourite to extend his ownership of the jersey with another swashbuckling attempt at victory. He impressed many with yesterday’s performance upon the intimidating Monte Zoncolan, riding with experience beyond his years and measuring his efforts to near perfection by the time the finish line was in sight. He does not shy away from the chance of a stage win as current race leader and knows that he is likely to be the fastest amongst many riders who may form an elite group which decides the day’s outcome.

Thibaut Pinot will believe this to be an ideal stage for his strengths, with long ascents and relatively controlled gradients, he will be eager to begin taking back time on his rivals ahead of the second rest day. Despite the uphill rise to the finish, the incline actually softens dramatically in the approach to the line, meaning the Frenchman will have a chance to utilise his powerful sprinting capabilities; something which perhaps only Simon Yates could better.

Chris Froome once again seized upon the first serious mountain stage to demonstrate his power and stake his claim to the overall title at this year’s Giro d’Italia. There is no denying his classy performance on Stage 14, though the Sky rider was able to take advantage of the ludicrously challenging nature of the gradients, which he will struggle to repeat on today’s parcours. Regardless, if he really is beginning to hit peak form ahead of the final week, then a dominant performance could be close at hand.

Michael Woods and Miguel Angel Lopez are two riders to consider for victory, as both have the attributes to ride strongly on the climb to the line, while also possessing a decent turn of pace to beat most rivals after another tough day at the Giro d’Italia.

Outcome:

1st Thibaut Pinot 2nd Simon Yates 3rd Miguel Angel Lopez

Giro d'Italia 2018

Giro d’Italia 2018 – Stage 14 Preview

Course:

After plenty of action during the opening week and a half of racing, we finally reach the first serious mountain stage of 2018’s Giro d’Italia. The 186km route from San Vito al Tagliamento to Monte Zoncolan is bound to prove the first vicious exchange of attacks amongst the general classification contenders for this year’s race. There is plenty to soften up the peloton’s legs during Stage 14, though it is the ascent of Monte Zoncolan which is anticipated to cause a serious stir amongst the general classification.

Giro d'Italia 2018

Contenders:

Thibaut Pinot has been eager to keep his form under control during the opening half of this year’s Giro d’Italia, focusing on avoiding the dangerous early peak which can affect general classification riders. The Frenchman has avoided digging too deep during this opening half of the race, though is certain to be eager to establish his dominance during this part of the race. If the day unfolds as planned, there is a great opportunity for Pinot to improve his position within the general classification and he is unlikely to say no to such a chance.

Miguel Angel Lopez still needs to take back time and may well begin his campaign with  serious endeavour as of tomorrow. Though the bunch shall be keen to keep an eye upon him, there is doubt he shall be easy enough to control, more likely becoming a main protagonist during the final moments of Stage 14.

Domenico Pozzovivo is enjoying the form of his life and will be all too aware that a strong performance here is likely to be required ahead of the individual time trial and the rivals which it brings down upon them. The diminutive climber shall not be afraid of shaking things up and is likely to prove a fuse ready to be lit.

Simon Yates has proven to be an aggressive custodian of this year’s maglia rosa, though will still be eager to cement his placing amongst the major names for the overall open win. If the race pans out as ideally as possible, then a late attack from him is definitely expected, one which may lead to victory.

Outcome:

1st Thibaut Pinot 2nd Tom Dumoulin 3rd Simon Yates

Giro d'Italia 2018

Giro d’Italia 2018 – Stage 13 Preview

Course:

Another day for the sprinters to contest amongst themselves, Stage 13 is a 180km jaunt from Ferrara to Nervesa della Battaglia, an almost entirely pan flat affair with little to worry about. A Category 4 ascent is present within the final moments of the day, though it is unlikely we shall see the same amount of skirmishes and fractured riding as witnessed ahead of yesterday’s approach into Imola. Assuming the peloton avoid another deluge, this should be a great opportunity to observe which of the main contenders for the maglia ciclamino look best prepared before the race turns towards a brutal barrage of mountains stages.

Giro d'Italia 2018

Contenders:

Sam Bennett monstered the final few hundred metres of yesterday’s stage and has now made the battle for the points classification far closer than many anticipated after the opening week of racing. The Irishman is an incredibly powerful rider, one who appears to take the greatest advantage as those around him begin to fatigue and suffer in the difficult weather conditions. He will once again expect his teammates to make the race as tough as possible in the final 30km, aiming to apply pressure to the key rivals and set Bennett up for a hat-trick of Giro d’Italia stage wins.

Elia Viviani was unlucky to be snarled up behind the chaos as the rain began to pour down yesterday and even appeared to witness his own teammates increase the tempo on the front of the bunch, without them realising he had slipped out the back. Regardless, he soon called time on his efforts and will have decided that his energy was best kept for today instead. Potentially fresher for having avoided going head to head with Bennett, the Italian will be eager to return to winning ways on Stage 13.

Danny van Poppel is beginning to see things fall into place as he targets a stage win, his teammates have been improving their leadout and the Dutchman himself is looking a resilient force in this second week. He will need a portion of good fortune to get the better of both Viviani and Bennett, though it is not impossible, the odds are certainly stacked against him.

Niccolo Bonifazio will fancy his chances if the final kilometres are ridden at an intense tempo to shift the thoroughbred sprinters, allowing him to utilise his strength to survive the cut in a better condition than others here. Though his team are unable to offer much in support, he is adept at surfing the wheels and has the potential to cause a surprise here.

Outcome:

1st Elia Viviani 2nd Sam Bennett 3rd Danny van Poppel

Giro d'Italia 2018

Giro d’Italia 2018 – Stage 12 Preview

Course:

A 214km blast from yesterday’s finish of Osimo to Imola on Stage 12 looks to be a surefire opportunity for the sprinters to take glory for themselves again. With little of note until a tame Category 4 climb 8km from the finish, it is difficult to imagine any outcome beyond a bunch kick, especially given the broad mix of teams with an interest today.

Giro d'Italia 2018

Contenders:

Elia Viviani will be able to reignite his campaign upon the points classification and has worked hard to avoid working much at all in recent days; however much a juxtaposition that may sound. He appears to have looked after his condition well, confidently eyeing up another win on Stage 12, where he shall be the favourite for many to secure the honours. His rivals will seek to up the tempo over the late Category 4 climb, but with years of track experience when it comes to recovering quickly to go deep once again, Viviani will be a tough nut to crack.

Sam Bennett finally got the monkey off his back and took the first grand tour stage of his career, though will now be eager to increase that tally as soon as possible. With plenty of firepower in support of him, they will make the race hard late in the day, but perhaps do not have the topographical ammunition required to truly make the Irishman’s rivals suffer. With the first half of the Giro d’Italia now heavy in the legs of many, Bennett could though prove the most resilient of all the fast men here.

Niccolo Bonifazio is a another rider who is likely to want to utilise the rise in the road during the run into Imola as a tool to diminish the odds of Viviani taking another stage victory. He has worked hard within his team to support the ambitions of leader Domenico Pozzovivo, which means unlike others mentioned here, he does not benefit from the luxury of being a protected rider throughout the Giro. Despite this, the strength which he has shown so far is encouraging and a podium placing is well with his grasp.

Sacha Modolo has not impressed as much as expected so far, but has the potential to be one of the least fatigued during the latter half of his home grand tour. Though his team does support him to an extent, there is no depth to his leadout and he will need to surf the wheels intelligently in order to compensate for this. Luckily, this is certainly a talent for him and could prove pivotal when combined with his ability to deal with the climb before Imola, increasing the likelihood of a win.

Outcome:

1st Elia Viviani 2nd Sam Bennett 3rd Niccolo Bonifazio