By David Hunter
Stage 17 Recap
It took 1 hour and a half but we eventually got our break, as predicted! The break split just before the final climb, when Thomas De Gendt attacked. Pirazzi attacked on the final climb and joined De Gendt. On the descent both Geschke and Gatto crashed and missed the crucial split. Making it a front 5 was Wellens, McCarthy and Montaguti. With just over 1km to go Pirazzi made the decisive move. He attacked and the others didn’t want to be the one to chase, so the move stuck and Pirazzi claimed a 3rd victory for Bardiani in the race. A remarkable achievement for the young Italian team. 2nd place went to Wellens, with McCarthy 3rd.
Pink – Quintana, Red – Bouhanni, Blue – Arredondo, White – Quintana
Stage 18 Belluno – Rifugio Panarotta 171km
After a quiet day in the saddle, we return to the mountains!
There is a chance of rain but the weather should be much better than the other day.
We are in for another treat with 3 big climbs on the menu.
You might love the water and drinks from here but you wouldn’t love to do the climb! 18.45km at 6.2%. Movistar went hard the opening climb the other day but I expect a much easier pace in the peloton for this climb.
The Passo del Redebus is only a cat 2 climb but it’s hard, 4.6km at 8.7%. Before it there is an equally short, steep ramp. Again, don’t expect to see fireworks here.
The final climb is 16.85km at 7.6%, with a number of ramps over 10%. This is where the fireworks will happen!
Look at the collection of hairpin bends in the middle of the climb. The final 13.8km is at 8.4%, this is a proper climb!
Again, we will probably see a number of battles during the stage. A large break should escape with most of the KOM candidates in it. Movistar will have no need to chase and with the ITT tomorrow and the Zoncolan on Saturday, I expect them to allow the break to succeed. Will the other teams work hard, to allow Quintana another stage? I would doubt it.
The stages on Friday and Saturday will be contested by the GC riders, so the other riders know that this is their last chance for a stage win. Expect to see some familiar faces to get in the morning break: Zardini, Bongiorno, Moser, Chalapud, Pantano, Cardoso, Niemiec, Hansen, Wellens, Monsalve, Santaromita, Quemeneur, Moreno, Duarte, Cataldo, Roche, Arredondo and Zoidl. Most of these riders have been in breaks already in the race and will want one last chance of a stage win.
This is a vital stage for the KOM jersey. I think Arredondo has shown signs of tiredness and poor decision making, he simply cannot afford to miss the break. Wellens, Cataldo and Team Colombia will be on hand if he does. The other riders will be interested in the stage win after poor campaigns. This exciting mix of riders will hopefully ensure a win for the break.
Back in the peloton, the GC riders are not best pleased with Nairo Quintana. They would love to take it in turn to attack him and slowly grind him down. The only problem is that Nairo is miles better than all of them. Quintana will want more time on Uran before the ITT, incase Rigoberto comes up with another unbelievable performance. Expect him to attack with around 5km to go and ride away from the group. Pierre Rolland is obviously in fine form and he’s another that will want to take more time before the ITT. Rumours of Pozzovivo’s demise seem misguided, and this steep climb suits his characteristics. He still has eyes for the podium. The young guns: Aru, Kelderman and Majka have still to have their “bad day”, will it be here? And what about Cadel? He seems to be gradually sliding out of the top 3, can he reverse the trend here?
The break makes it for me. That means I have to decide between Roche, Cataldo, Niemiec, Hansen, Duarte, Moreno, Zardini and Zoidl?
This is a very difficult decision to make as some of them might not even make the break! After a terrible time for Ireland, I say Roche for the win.
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