If you have read this far, then you will have probably worked out what type of rider the stage suits: a sprinter. But which one?
With a sample size of just one it is difficult to really say any one fastman is head and shoulders above another at this year’s Giro d’Italia, however having won on Sunday confidence must be coursing through the veins of Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix). The Belgian did, though, appear to struggle in in the medium mountains so it will be interesting to see how he has recovered.
It was interesting to note that Lotto-Soudal did not have a single rider in yesterday’s 25-man breakaway – including Thomas De Gendt, their specialist and good friend of Alessandro De Marchi – which immediately got me thinking that the team management have earmarked today’s stage for their little pocket rocket Caleb Ewan. Ewan has a tendency to start his grand tours slowly, often taking a few stages to get his legs really firing and so I really believe today could be his day. The Australian and his lead-out man Roger Kluge finished yesterday’s stage 180th and 179th, while De Gendt was 177th out of 183. If there is a headwind at the finish in the coastal town of Cattolica – which Ewan and his team will be praying for – then that would make him my favourite. If not, then it will be a close call.
Fernando Gaviria (UAE Emirates) has shown some surprisingly good form good form thus far and has been there or thereabouts, while the same could be said of Elia Viviani (Cofidis). Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) looked a little nervous to me in the sprint finish on Sunday, though I may be over-analysing things.
European and Italian road champion Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos) has more runners-up spots at the Giro d’Italia than any other rider in its 104 editions, so the 32-year-old will be desperate to consign that statistic to the green litter zone, but will today be his day? Anyway, that’s enough speculation from me for the moment.
Back at 1.30pm (BST) when today’s live coverage will begin in earnest. Ciao, for now.