Stage 12 takes over the half-way point in the Giro d'Italia with a flat stage that will almost certainly finish in a bunch sprint and another battle between Greipel, Nizzolo and Modolo.
Giro d'Italia St 12 - Noale to Bibione, 168kms
This stage is pretty flat and boring and is pretty short too at only 168kms, so for the GC men it's sure to feel like a rest day. The only complication comes with a tricky closing circuit in Bibione with its tight bends and roundabouts.
Not a lot to say about it, it's flat, as flat as you can get nearly, reaching the heady heights of just 38m about half way along. They start in Noale and head east to the coast to the city of Bibione, and the only interesting thing about the stage is the two-lap finishing circuit with its many twists and turns.
Initially, the route follows the Riviera del Brenta, then it enters the province of Treviso along trunk roads. They will need to be alert to roundabouts, kerbs, speed bumps and traffic dividers while crossing urban areas, especially in Mestre, Treviso and Portogruaro.
The route finally reaches Bibione, where they tackle an 8km circuit which features 14 bends and long straight stretches, on mostly wide and well-surfaced roads. Just as they hit the flamme rouge the road kinks to the right a little and with 300m to go they take a 90 degree right-hander on to the finishing straight. Bibione has been a five-time finish of a stage in the Giro d'Italia history, the last one in 2000, a 42km ITT won by Victor Hugo Pena.
We hit the post today with Nizzolo and Trentin, they would have finished 1st and 3rd for us if they had managed to pull back the break. Close, but no cigar!
Andre Greipel - even though I was disappointed that he pulled at the front today and didn't even try to stay with the front group, he said afterwards that he was only interested in saving energy today ahead of tomorrow's stage. He should love this finish as his Lotto boys will be able to boss the last 3kms and potentially take him to that final bend in pole position with 300m to go. He won't be afraid to strike out 200m from the line and could have the power to hold them all off.
Giacomo Nizzolo of course came very close in stage 7, sprinting very well on a flat finish and could well be one of his biggest dangers again. He was excellent today again, winning the sprint behind Jungels, and I think he has a big chance again here in this sprint. They may be missing Cancellara but he didn't need any help today, fighting his own corner and getting up for 4th. He is +500 cycling odds for the stage and that is just about worth an each-way bet, I think he'll be very unlucky not to give you a return.
Caleb Ewan continues to come closer to pulling it off, on stage 7 he was looking the winner with 150m to go but was passed by a number of guys in the last 100m. On a flat out sprint like this he is sure to give it all his got, particularly as it could be his last stage in the race. OGE will not commit too many resources to his leadout though, but if he can just get Damian Howson in front of him with 500m to go, he will have a chance.
Arnaud Démare would probably have preferred some hills to take the sting out of some of his rivals, but should still be able get involved in this finish. 2nd fastest to Kittel on stage 2, FDJ looked to have a killer leadout, but he hasn't followed through from that with a win, finishing 2nd again to Greipel on St 5, but also only finishing 8th on St 3 and 13th on St 7. He and practically the whole team were caught up in the crash today though and it's hard to know if some of them took a knock or picked up an injury.
Sacha Modolo should be involved too, he needs to start scoring points towards the jersey if he wants to get involved in that fight. A close 3rd on stages 2 and 7, he wasn't able to match the final punches of Kittel or Greipel, will he get closer today? I'm not so sure - he did make it with the lead group today though but he once again lost out to Nizzolo.
And after that you have the lottery tickets again in Hofland, Sbaragli, Busato, Grosu, Porsev, Arndt and Ruffoni who could come close, but I think this is Greipel's stage again and if you can get odds against (5/4 on Betfair for example) then I'd back him as my cycling pick . I was tempted to have a large stake on Greipel, but there is a slight worry that the technical closing circuit could cause problems. Nizzolo can chase him home and I wouldn't be surprised if Caleb Ewan finally got it right and took a podium spot too. Same two picks again, they should be right up there again I think.
4pts on André Greipel at +125 with Betfair
1pt each-way on Nizzolo at +500 with Ladbrokes
Porsev to beat Arndt and Greipel to beat Ewan - 3pts at +110