This Grand Tour reminds me of many from the turn of the century; lots and lots of sprinting followed by lots and lots of climbing. We’ll likely see the fastmen abandon one by one over the weekend with very little to look forward to when we leave Emilia-Romagna and head to Piedmont and beyond. Let’s try and enjoy this final bunch sprint; a 221 km, pan-flat, slog.
The Just Profile
Today’s stage from Carpi to Novi Ligure is nearly 80km longer than yesterday and it will be taken at a slow pace. There are no categorised climbs and no hope for the breakaway. There’s also no corners in the final 3 km, which should hopefully minimize the chances of crashes (although this wasn’t the case yesterday).
Here’s a nifty table of woe, illustrating my luck in the Giro sprints so far.
Launch a Tenner – Arnaud Demare 3/1
I can’t bear backing the out-of-sorts Elia Viviani at 7/4 and watching him lose for a fourth time. Ackermann’s price is attractive but he’s bloody and bruised and I doubt he’ll have his maximum top-end speed today. Demare wants the points jersey and is the rider consistently performing near his best level. He’s my selection!
Launch a Quid – Jakub Mareczko 50/1
Mareczko will go home very soon. He’s failed to hit the heights of his 2017 Giro, where he chased home Kittel on numerous occasions. Can he go out with a bang? (No, probably)
Any Other Business
Okay, stay with me on this one. Demare is currently 4/5 to win the points jersey, Ackermann 7/4. There’s perhaps two (including today) sprints left for them to contend. Roglic makes sense at 13/2 but could a lively hill-loving breakaway rider make a late steal? Diego Ulissi’s 500/1 (he was fourth in the competition a few years back following similar tactics). And you can take your pick of Damiano Cima, Marco Frapporti and pretty much anybody at up to 1000/1 odds. I’ll do some maths and get back to you…
Novi Ligure is the home of the Museo del Ciclismo! Real bikes ridden by Fausto Coppi and Eddie Merckx!