By David Hunter
Stage 20 Recap
As predicted, the break made it! Quite a few of the riders I mentioned made the selection and in the end we had Rogers, Bongiorno and Pellizotti. With 3km to go, a fan tried to push Bongiorno, but he forced him off his bike. It was a real shame that he lost the stage in this way, but he did look like he was struggling at the time. Rogers went on to claim his 2nd stage of the race, 2nd was Pellizotti and 3rd Bongiorno. The battle behind saw Poels and Uran trying to distance Quintana. They managed to lose all the other riders, except the one in pink! It was an excellent display of climbing by Uran. Quintana sat on his wheel until the end, then he popped out and beat him to the line, to seal his pink jersey.
Pink – Quintana, Red – Bouhanni, Blue – Arredondo, White – Quintana
Stage 21 Gemona del Friuli – Trieste 172km
We are almost there! After 3 weeks, 20 stages, 2 countries, red flags, crashes, snow, hail, tears, blood, pain and joy, the riders head to Trieste.
In fitting with the rest of the race, we have a 50% chance of rain at the end of the stage.
The last stage is more challenging than we usually get at the end of a grand tour.
The riders have to deal with a 500 metre section of 6.2%. It’s a circuit stage, so the riders tackle this 8 times. I don’t really see this having an impact on the sprinters in the race.
The circuit is quite straightforward, which is a big relief if it rains. There are 2 turns in the final kilometre and then a long, straight finish.
The only classification still undecided is the red jersey. Bouhanni leads Nizzolo by 26 points, so if the Italian wins, Bouhanni needs to be in the top 5. If Nizzolo is 2nd, Bouhanni has to make the top 10. The intermediate sprint will offer some points, depending on the size of the break.
Bouhanni has 3 stages to his name and wants to claim the red jersey in style. He is the fastest rider by a distance and his team will try and deliver him to the front of the race, to try and keep him out of any danger. A crash would be a disaster for the team and rider.
None of the other sprinters have won a stage in the race. As usual we will see Nizzolo, Ferrari, Viviani, Swift and Mezgec challenging for the win. Can any of them put in a winning performance?
Of all the other riders I think Tyler Farrar could be the man to watch. Despite not being in the top 5 in the race, the American is good in the final stage of a 3 week race. In the 2013 Vuelta, he finished an excellent 2nd. All the recent climbing will slow the legs of most sprinters and this is when Farrar can pounce. I think he has a good chance of going top 3.
Number 4 for Nacer Bouhanni.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my previews for the last 3 weeks, it’s been fun. You can find me on twitter, @cyclingmole, and I’ll be back with the Dauphine in 1 week.
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