By David Hunter
Milan – Torino 186km
The standard route for this wonderful race.
Flat as a pancake, until two ascents up to the Basilica. What a climb!
4.9km at 9.1% is a brutal effort. Short enough to please some riders who aren’t pure climbers, but tough enough to please the mountain goats. This is one of the best climbs in cycling.
Easy. Don’t let anyone escape on the first ascent, setting up a huge finish.
The last 4 winners here are Diego Rosa, Giampaolo Caruso, Diego Ulissi and Alberto Contador. Vincenzo Nibali won the Italian Championship here in 2015. You must have good climbing legs, but you don’t have to be a grand tour GC rider to have a chance.
Fabio Aru – another good performance today, as he builds for Lombardia. He was happy to sit back and “allow” Diego Rosa the win here in 2015, but his teammate doesn’t seem to have the same form as last year. Aru’s recent form has been good, even on courses that haven’t suited his style. With Astana looking dominant, I think Aru will give everything to take the title.
Romain Bardet – his 2nd place in Emilia was a good sign of current form. Weirdly enough, I don’t actually think this climb is wonderful for him. He would prefer it to be longer and a little easier. The shortness of the climb does open the door to his teammate, Alexis Vuillermoz. In fact, AG2R also have Pozzovivo and Latour. That gives them four options to play in the closing stages. I think one of them will attack on the first ascent, allowing the others to rest up for the final 4km.
Sami Sanchez – Emilia was his first race since crashing out of the Vuelta, a DNF didn’t inspire confidence. Hermans, De Marchi and Atapuma do provide them with other options, but a win from these riders would be a surprise.
Sergio Pardilla – was brilliant in Burgos and outstanding in the early part of the Vuelta. He tired in the final week and finished outside the top 10. The length of the climb is good for him, but I doubt he’ll have recovered from his recent efforts.
Rigoberto Uran – hitting form at the right time. He was unlucky in Quebec, 3rd in Emilia and nearly took a win today. It’s great to see the Colombian in such form. I wonder if he can take his first win of 2016?
Diego Ulissi – another that is in top form just now. Looked in great condition today, but just couldn’t shake off Colbrelli, finishing in 2nd. That means he has six top 10 results in his last seven races. He won here in 2013 and a repeat wouldn’t be a surprise.
Dani Moreno – The Spaniard is a big fan of this race, finishing 3rd in 2013 and 2014. Fresh from a top 10 in the Vuelta and bronze at the Euros he has a chance of finally winning this race.
Wout Poels – figuring out who’ll lead Sky is quite tough. They have Landa, Konig and Kennaugh, as well as Poels. The Dutchman is in good form, fresh from a win in the Tour of Britain. He was 5th here in 2015, so I would expect another top performance from him.
Rafal Majka – another that always seems to perform well here. He was 2nd in 2013 and 2015. The Pole has had a funny year, performing very well but failing to take a win. He won the KOM jersey at the Tour, finishing 2nd on one stage and taking three 3rd places. He then followed that up with another 3rd, this time taking bronze in Rio. He is one of the big favourites for the race.
Aru v Uran v Bardet v Majka v Moreno v Poels v Ulissi. This is not an easy race to call. Given recent form and a love of this course, I see it as a battle between Aru and Majka. After being close on two occasions, I see Majka taking the win.
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