It’s time for the Twitter Stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia. This is the first real mountain stage of the race and celebrating the first finish ever on Altopiano del Montasio, the Giro organizers have painted 200 tweets on the final kilometers towards the line. The riders will be cheered for from all possible angles on this stage and we should be in for quite a show.
Altopiano del Montasio is 10.9 km and has an average gradient of 7.8%. The climb kicks up with parts of 20% near the top, but the final kilometer is almost flat. A bad day on this climb will cost you minutes, but we shouldn’t see that big of a difference between the favorites.
Astana are now the new commander of the Giro and it will be interesting to see if they will let the Pink Jersey go to a breakaway or work hard to defend it. Vincenzo Nibali has never had such a strong team to back him up as he has now, but there is still a long way to Brescia. It takes a lot of energy out of a team to defend the leader’s jersey and the Giro is now only getting started for real. Also, with 20 bonus seconds on the line, Astana will be happy to see a breakaway take the stage win. I doubt they will be working hard in front, unless another GC contender get in trouble.
This is another day with important KOM points on the menu and Stefano Pirazzi will most likely try to get in the morning break again to reach the top of Passo Cason Di Lanza among the first riders. It’s still early in the race and it only takes today to get right back in the KOM competition. There are 15 points to the first rider on top of each of the two climbs and right now Pirazzi only has 38 points in total. The Colombians have been very active in this race already but we are still to see their real strength. Now we are entering their terrain and a morning break without a least one of the strong Colombian climbers will be a big surprise.
Darwin Atapuma has been quiet so far in the race, but it hasn’t been his kind of terrain yet. He showed in the time trial that his climbing legs are working just fine when he passed De Greef on the uphill section after the Belgian previously had caught Atapuma on the flat part. Atapuma lives in 3200 meters above sea level in Colombia and as the Giro for the first time this year gets up in 1500 meters, Atapuma will start to feel at home. Together with Fabio Duarte, Team Colombia have two very strong contenders for this stage.
Another rider who will feel at home in this stage is Franco Pellizotti. Not because he lives in the heights but because he’s born in the area. Pellizotti knows the final climb like nobody else in this Giro and he’s eager to give his home crowd something to cheer for. Last year he won the Italian Championship and winning this stage on home soil, in ‘il tricolore’, is the biggest goal for Franco Pellizotti this year.
If it comes down to the big GC riders on the final climb, Mauro Santambrogio and Domenico Pozzovivo are my favorites. The two tiny climbers are great on the steep parts. Santambrogio are still very much in the GC fight but he’s been in-shape for a long time and if he fades towards the end of this Giro, he needs to win a stage soon. Pozzovivo is 4 minutes down in the GC and actually, that’s a little bit better than expected, taking a team time trial and a long individual time trial into consideration. It shows that Pozzovivo is strong right now and with only 53 kg, he’s practically flying on the steep parts.
Another tiny climber who I think can do well in this stage is a former teammate of Pozzovivo. Gianluca Brambilla started out this Giro with GC ambition, but an early crash quickly put an end to that. It has taken Brambilla a while to get ready again, but now he seems to be feeling good on the bike. He was in the first breakaway on Stage 9 and I’m sure he will be eager to get away on this stage too. Brambilla is more than one hour behind Vincenzo Nibali in the overall classification and the favorites won’t give him many thoughts should he be in a break.
It’s difficult to pick a favorite with a breakaway having good chances of succeeding but if it comes down the GC contenders, I think Domenico Pozzovivo will attack from a far and take the win.
Favorite: Domenico Pozzovivo
Top3 Pick: Mauro Santambrogio
Jokers: Darwin Atapuma / Franco Pellizotti / Gianluca Brambilla
I promised you something extra for the Giro previews this year and here it is. In collaboration with GNC, you’ll find a short video preview of each stage of the race. Here is Stage 10:
For live coverage of the stage check out steephill.tv