Normally a ski station during the winter, the riders will be hoping for better weather as they go deeper into the next stage. See my preview & get a few cycling picks along the way!
The Giro tackles its first summit of the race as it heads further north and in to the mountains of the Apennine range which runs down the centre of Italy. A ski station during the winter, the riders will be hoping for better weather than they have faced lately in races like Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour of Romandy.
The route starts in Ponte and heads west for fifteen flat kilometres before turning north at Telese Terme where the road starts to climb. Once over the top of the Cat 2 climb they descend for 20kms to the 74km mark, climb an uncategorised hill after 98kms, and after a short descent start to climb towards the finish. The last 50kms are very undulating, climbing towards the finish in five waves. The final, most important part starts just after the intermediate sprint at Castel Di Sangro with 16.7kms to go.
The Cat 2 climb to Aremonga comes in waves too, averaging 4.6% for that 16.7kms. But the first 5kms averages 7.5% to make it a hard start to the climb, then it eases to 4.1% for 2kms, before it actually flattens out for 3kms. With just under 7kms to go the road turns south suddenly and kicks up again, climbing the next 3kms at 7.4%, before another easing back to 3.5% for the last 3.5kms. With 3kms to go the road levels off again for 1.5kms, then there's 500m at 3.2%, 500m at 5.8% and the last 500m averages 8.3% as the road keeps climbing all the way to the finish line (right).
Contenders and Favourites
This looks like a day that we could see a break make it - the Bocca Della Selva, which effectively starts after just 15kms is a perfect launching pad for an early attack, particularly by those in pursuit of the KOM points, the first Cat 2 climb of the race. It's a relatively short stage too at 157kms, well compared to 233kms the day before it is anyway, but this will be a hard stage. Ruben Plaza at +15000 on the cycling odds is a break candidate at a big price, he's always a keen breakaway man and could like a stage like this.
Przemyslaw Niemiec was riding really in Turkey last week, winning the KOM competition with some good rides, including 2nd on the tough uphill stage 6. He has been easing himself in to this race but might fancy this one tomorrow. The team is buzzing after Ulissi's win, but also will be annoyed with how Taaramae stopped Modolo's charge with 1km to go today.
Mikel Landa could go well on a finish like this too, but I've been concerned with how he's been riding, he was almost left behind on stage 4 at the top of the Via Fortino, Roche dragged him over the top and back on to the leaders. In fact, Roche at +4000 is a far more interesting bet to me than Landa at 14, he has been riding really well, but it's likely he has to look after Landa and may not be given the nod to attack, unless Landa tells him to.
Tom Dumoulin is looking incredibly slim and fit, and maybe the secret training we was doing before the Giro was totally focused on preparing him for a GC shot here, despite his protestations that he has done no real climbing training ahead of it. It could be the reason that he has not been his usual dominant self in TTs lately too, scraping a win in the opening TT, and finishing 2nd in the two TTs in Romandie. He said today that this sort of finish should suit him really well and he's looking forward to it, but he'll see how his legs are - he said his legs were good on Tuesday, not so good on Wednesday.
Chaves, Nibali, Pirazzi, they could all get involved also, but another I like the look of is Gianluca Brambilla again, he seems to be riding really well and was unlucky not to finish 2nd on stage 4, he climbed well and sprinted well. If he can hang in there tomorrow he would have a chance on this finish too. An outsider at a big price I like is Matteo Busato - he's shown some good form this season, including 5th in the Giro Dell Appenino and 5th in a tough stage in Coppi e Bartali. He showed up well in stage 4 with an 8th place and at +12500 he's worth a shot.
I think the break has a small chance of making it tomorrow, that was a tougher stage than some expected today, the 233kms was really felt at the end of the day. The GC men might save themselves for the TT on the weekend, or they might go at it full gas for the stage win and the bonus seconds. So a few bets on possible breakaway candidates and if it does come down to a GC battle, I think Valverde looks like the most likely winner, but Brambilla and Busato at a massive price could also be a strong cycling pick.
2pts win on Alejandro Valverde at +300 with PaddyPower
0.5pts each-way on Gianluca Brambilla at +2700 with BetDSI
0.25pts each-way on Matteo Busato at +12500 with Paddy Power
0.2pts each-way on Prmyslaw Niemiec at +12500 with Skybet
0.2pts each-way on Ruben Plaza at +15000 with Paddy Power
Chaves to beat Dumoulin - 2pts at +100 with Paddy Power