By David Hunter
Stage 9 Recap
As expected it was a day for the break. All the riders knew this, so it was very hard to get in the morning break. There were many failed attempts, before a crash in the bunch, helped 10 men get up the road. Many teams were represented, but not with their top breakaway specialists. Back in the bunch we had some increases in pace but it was just the teams stretching their muscles. On the final climb, Weening and Malacarne managed to escape from the bunch. They fought out the stage win in proper track style, virtually coming to a standstill 300 metres from the line. The Dutchman was in the best position and he sprinted past the Italian to take another win for Orica.
Back in the bunch, Domenico Pozzovivo, attacked and no one followed. He continued on to claim 3rd place and take some important time back on his rivals. Evans and Quintana remained very close to each other for the whole stage.
Stage 10 Modena – Salsomaggiore Terme 173km
The riders return, refreshed from their rest day. The organisers have been kind to them, with this easy stage.
There are no categorised climbs, so Julian Arredondo will remain in the blue jersey.
As you can see. it’s about as flat a stage as you’ll find. Interestingly, the intermediate sprint comes early in the stage. The sprinters will be keen to hold the race together, as there are 20 points on offer. This is another big day in the fight for the red jersey, there are only 3 more sprint stages left in the race, after this. Nacer Bouhanni has 166 points, with Nizzolo on 150 and Viviani on 139. A win for Bouhanni and he will start to look very secure in red, but if his rivals win, then it gets very interesting!
The little bump towards the end of the stage is nothing to worry about.
Coming off the descent, the peloton will be travelling at a very high speed, as they approach the end of the stage. The last 2.6km goes uphill, but very gently at under 1%. This is a sprint for the quick men.
Compared to other stages the run for home is very straightforward. They go under the flamme rouge and then have a 90 degree right turn, at 500 metres to go there is a big sweeping right hand turn, before the road straightens out for the final 120 metres. Again, positioning is everything! Sprinters must be at the front going into the last corner.
In the last sprint, Giant – Shimano did a perfect job for Luca Mezgec. They have the best lead-out train in the race and I expect them to lead in the closing stages. The problem is that Mezgec isn’t the fastest man here, Bouhanni is! The Frenchman, already has 2 stages to his name and wants more. He displayed in stage 7, that he can come from behind Mezgec and beat him. FDJ have the 2nd best train and they can put him onto Mezgec’s wheel. As we know Bouhanni is not afraid of bullying other riders out of the way.
Nizzolo grabbed 3rd in stage 7 but he is slower than Bouhanni. The enigmatic Elia Viviani, has continued to frustrate, with his lack of positional sense. Can he do better in this stage?
Ben Swift has had a couple of quiet stages, as he tries to get over his crash. We need to remember that he was the closest to beating Kittel, back in Dublin. I have previously doubted his speed, but he can certainly mix it with the sprinters left in the race. If Boasson Hagen can drop him off in a good position, he will be a big threat.
I don’t see any challenge from the other sprinters.
I think this one will be a tight call between Bouhanni and Swift. I’m going to favour the Frenchman, but expect it to be close.
Related: Giro 2014 general preview:https://bicis.frangandara.net/giro-ditalia-2014-general-preview/
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