Giro d´Italia 2021 – Stage 20 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Giro d´Italia 2021 – Stage 20 Preview

By David Hunter

Verbania > Valle Spluga Alpe Motta 164.4km

The final mountain stage.

I would have liked a mountain at the beginning of the day, but the stage is quite good, and we could see some GC riders encouraged to go long.

Key Points

The first of the climbs is the ridiculously long San Bernardino Pass. 24.2km at 5.9% is long and fairly difficult, it climbs to 2066m above sea level.

Splügenpass is next up, it’s 8.7km at 7.3%. It looks rather weird. We have hairpins at the start, then a straight road, before more hairpins near the end. There is 20km between the crest of this climb and the start of the final climb, will anyone go long?

The final climb is 8.4km at 7.6%, but that includes a flat section in the middle and at the crest. Apart from that the climb is very steep and there’s lots of tunnels at the start.

Weather

Some forecasts say rain, some don’t. We’ll have to wait and see.

Tactics

Can the break, do it? My gut feeling is they can. Apart from Ineos we have a lack of climbing domestiques left in the race. Okay, the opening 80km of the stage is flat, but then we have three big climbs. All the GC teams will be wanting to keep men back for the final two climbs, that means they can’t set a crazy pace on the flat and will hope to ride the first climb at tempo. This will give the break a chance to build a nice advantage, but they’ll be worried about riders attacking early from the GC group.

If Simon Yates wants to win the Giro, he must attack on the penultimate climb. He’s 2:49 down to Bernal, that’s an awful lot of time considering he only beat him by 28 seconds today. Going early is a very big risk as Ineos still have the riders to maintain a small gap, we’ll have to see if he believes taking pink is possible. His other option is to settle for a spot on the podium and look to take a second stage win, I really hope he doesn’t.

Ineos did a great job today, especially Castroviejo, Martínez and Bernal. There are a lot of rumours about Bernal’s back, but he responded well today. This stage is much harder than today, it will be another big test for Bernal. Ineos will be delighted if Yates waits until the final climb, but they’ll be a little worried about a longer attack. Ineos will also have to be careful about the type of break that gets away. They must not let Team BikeExchange get a satellite rider in the move.

DS Cycling Mole

Smokin Jo, so bloody close. Every single one of you were brilliant today, you made me very proud. Stilknox, what about the pull? Outstanding work wee man. This stage is another day, another chance to get our stage win. João, time to go for the hail Mary. Stilknox or The Prof, I want you in the morning break, then Smokin Jo is going to launch an early attack on the penultimate climb and bridge across to you. João, this is your time. Get out there and win.

Contenders

Simon Yates – brilliant win today, but will he be willing to risk his podium spot for the pink jersey? If he waits for the final climb, he’ll be the big favourite for the stage win, but I do hope he goes for pink. His current form is very strong, if he goes early, we could be watching one of those iconic stages.

João Almeida – he just missed out on today’s win, there was no shame in not being able to follow Yates. To win this stage he needs to play a clever tactical game. If Yates goes long, I wonder if he’ll follow. He could stay with Bernal and hope that Ineos bring it all back together, it’s not an easy decision to make. If he’s at the front of the race for the final kilometre, the flat finish suits him perfectly. Maybe he’ll follow the advice of DS Cycling Mole.

Egan Bernal – it’s not about winning the stage for him; it’s about maintaining a good gap on GC. His performance today was impressive, he might not be as strong as in the first two weeks, but he’s still bloody good. Much of this stage takes place at high altitude, which is perfect news for him. He’s unlikely to win the stage, but you just never know.

Davide Formolo – breakaway hopeful number 1.

George Bennett – breakaway hopeful number 2.

Koen Bouwman – breakaway hopeful number 3.

Antonio Pedrero – breakaway hopeful number 4.

Diego Ulissi – breakaway hopeful number 5.

Prediction Time

I’m leaning towards the breakaway; I think the GC teams will be wary about burning their domestiques early in the stage. I’ll take a win for Davide Formolo, I have a feeling he’s going to come good.. Back in the GC group I don’t think Yates will attack on the penultimate climb, I think he’ll wait for the final climb. He’ll put time into Bernal, but not enough to seriously threaten him for the pink jersey. Egan knows he can lose two minutes and still be comfortable in the TT.

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