One mountain was all it took to divide the GC favourites. Miguel Angel Lopez and Mikel Landa wriggled free on the Montoso; and held off the chasers by 28 seconds at the finish in Pinerolo. The popular Cesare Benedetti took a brilliant stage win as a mixture of unfamiliar names fought for stage honours. I’m not sure many of yesterday’s breakaway artists could survive this monstrous Alpine stage.
The Just Profile
Welcome to Turin. It’s unfair to call the Colle del Lys a warm-up climb, but arriving after just 50km of racing we’re unlikely to see much action. Even by Giro standards, it would be a shock to see a GC rider ‘go long’ on the first day in the Alps. Nevertheless, at 15km in length and with periods of 10% gradient, it will cut the GC riders from many of their teammates.
60 km from home we tackle the Pian del Lupo; 10km at an 8.7% average slope (but a cat two climb!). The descent is equally as nasty. It’s difficult to know where the final climb begins, with over 30 km of uphill road to finish the stage. Officially one ascent, the climb can be split by an obvious false flat before 8km of harsh climbing to the line. We finish above 2000m.
Launch a Tenner – Miguel Angel Lopez 11/2
Both of Miguel Angel Lopez’s grand tour stage wins have come above 2000m (the first atop Calar Alto, the second his demolition to Sierra Nevada) and he’ll be thrilled that the big climbing is beginning. He’s a beefy eight minutes from the Maglia Rosa and over four minutes behind Primoz Roglic. Astana can’t afford to wait much longer if they want to launch Superman up the classification… and I don’t think they will. Kazakh blue will control the climbs and Lopez will take the stage.
Launch a Fiver – Giulio Ciccone 14/1
Former Giro stage winner Giulio Ciccone has had a relatively quiet few days which should put the peloton on high alert. He’s twenty minutes down and clearly not riding with any GC ambitions. He’ll want to arrive in Verona with the KoM jersey and a stage win, and Ceresole provides a ‘two birds one stone’ opportunity. At 14/1 he is slightly shorter than I expected, but he fits the bill as a breakaway rider who’s strong enough to hold off the GC charge.
Launch a Quid – Alexis Vuillermoz 40/1
Over the next few days we’ll find out how strong Alexis Vuillermoz is. He was superb when pacing Romain Bardet to second place in the Tour de France in 2017 but much quieter last season. He’s certainly AG2R’s best hope on a stage such as this. He’s a candidate for the early break and he’ll need a decent advantage ahead of the finale.
I was actually very disappointed with his mediocre 40/1 odds, but, nevertheless, I’ve thrown some money in his direction.
Any Other Business
Simon Yates has not looked like the Simon Yates we heard interviewed at the start of the month. I’m not sure he’ll be looking forward to today’s stage; although yesterday’s solid performance was a step in the right direction.
The Italian Job’s cliff scene was filmed at Ceresole Reale!