Welcome to the first of the daily Just Pro Picks for the 2019 Giro d’Italia. This won’t be a detailed preview but rather my picks for each day – because you just can’t have enough cycling tipsters during the first Grand Tour of the year.
The Just Profile
At an unspectacular 235km, organizers are clearly unbothered by the prospect of another boring day in the saddle. We’re starting in Orbetello and rolling to Frascati. We’ll barely see the GC favourites and everybody will be trying to conserve energy.
Thankfully, the final 10km should produce a jolt of serious excitement. Short uphill finishes are some of the best stages for punters and tomorrow’s is no different. The final 1km is entirely uphill but gradients stay at around a modest 4%. Just prior to the Flamme Rouge there is a 7% rise but even this might not be enough to shed the bunch entirely of sprinters.
Launch a Tenner – Arnaud Demare 8/1
Arnaud Demare might lack the polished, premium sprint of a Gaviria or Viviani but he has looked good over the last two days. I think he has what it takes to turn things his way on tomorrow’s upward finale. He’ll have to be in sparkling form to handle the gradient – but this is Grand Tour season! No excuses!
Launch a Fiver – Giacomo Nizzolo & Enrico Gasparotto 40/1
Giacomo Nizzolo can’t win a bunch sprint at this Giro d’Italia. I never rated him as a leading sprinter and I certainly don’t anymore. Nevertheless, the 235km distance and uphill finish levels the playing field somewhat. Nizzolo appears to be carrying some form and knows how to spin the watts when the road rises up (think Hatta Dam 2016). Tomorrow’s the only day I’ll be backing him.
The stage is also a snug fit for his teammate Enrico Gasparotto – a Cauberg specialist. Should Nizzolo pop prior to the Flamme Rouge (very possible), Gasparotto can pick up the pieces!
Launch a Quid – Juan Sebastian Molano 400/1
After inheriting the stage today, I’m interested to see how Fernando Gaviria feels about tomorrow. If he is happy to take his foot off the gas for this testing finish, I’d love to see Juan Sebastian Molano sprint up the slopes. The Colombian bested none other than Julian Alaphilippe on home soil in January.
As much as I love his teammate Diego Ulissi he sometimes appears a little devoid of direction as he pieces together highly competitive but slightly dim performances. Does he believe he can win tomorrow? Will UAE give him the chance? The final climb might not be hard enough but this could tempt Ulissi to make an early move. He is a touch short in the market but I’ll still be happy if he strikes gold.
Any Other Business
Juan Jose Lobato was my outsider until the markets went up and be was 12/1 fourth favourite! Outrageous!