By David Hunter
Stage 18 Recap
As I said, the break made it. A few riders I identified made the break and eventually we had Duarte, Arredondo and Deignan. Despite being in countless breaks, Julian Arredondo, still had the energy to attack and distance Duarte with 4km to go. The two Colombians fought out the victory, but Duarte never recovered. It was a very impressive way to take the KOM jersey. In the group of favourites, nothing really happened, apart from Evans dropping down GC and Kelderman losing a handful of seconds.
Pink – Quintana, Red – Bouhanni, Blue – Arredondo, White – Quintana
Stage 19 Cima Grappa 26.8km
It’s mountain TT time!
After 18 stages of pain, snow, rain, red flags and lots more, the end is nigh!
We have around 7.5km of flattish road before we hit the climb. The opening 12km is at 7.4%, and the final 7km is at 8.9%. Don’t be under any illusion, this is very, very hard!
The final 3km is tough, with long sections above 10%. After nearly 3 weeks, there will be a lot of tired legs and the vast majority of riders will be looking to survive.
It’s quite clear that the best climber will win, so this is Nairo’s stage to lose. He is clearly the strongest rider in the mountains and anything but a win would be a huge surprise. Uran seems secure in 2nd place, so the other riders are riding for 3rd.
Uran delivered a brilliant TT early in the race but has looked behind Quintana in the mountains. I would be very surprised not to see him finish 2nd in this stage.
Pierre Roland is normally a disaster in a TT, but he has out climbed all but Quintana in this race. Just 23 seconds separates him, Aru, Majka and Pozzovivo. It is very difficult to split these riders. I would say that Rolland and Pozzovivo have been better than the Aru and Majka. They also have more experience and I would expect them to perform better in this stage.
Looking down the field, there aren’t many riders to challenge. Dario Cataldo is clearly in form and can TT very well. The only problem is that he has been in a number of breaks and I doubt he’ll have the energy to contend. The same goes for Julian Arredondo. He has his stage and the blue jersey, so expect a “tourist ride” tomorrow.
The only other rider I can see challenging the GC boys is Samuel Sanchez. He was 2nd in the mountain TT in 2013 and will now be free from having to help Cadel. Will he go full gas at the stage, or take it easy?
It has to be Nairo Quintana.
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