A stage that the sprinters should be locked out of, writes Jack Houghton, and where the best strategy is to support the established one-day racers
What's the stage like?
It's more like a one-day race than a stage in a Grand Tour, and punters should bet accordingly. After 120km or so of coastal nothingness (except for a Category 4 climb), the stage loops around the finish town of Tortoreto, taking in six punchy climbs within the last 50km.
One of those ascents - climbed twice - has ramps approaching a 20% gradient. The last ascent of it comes only 11km out from the finish, so the sprinters have little chance of being able to survive long enough to be competitive at the end.
This should be a day for the Classics' brigade, or perhaps a plucky breakaway.
Who are the favourites?
It's an open stage betting-wise, with Stage 2 winner Diego Ulissi (12/113.00) and Michael Matthews (12/113.00) sharing favouritism in most lists.
Both are capable of winning this if able to cover late moves, and the same goes for Peter Sagan (21/122.00), who must be thinking that he will end this Grand Tour as he has so many others: riding brilliantly, but having a string of placed finishes, and no victories, as his only reward.
Of the trio, Ulissi is the marginal choice, mainly because he will cope with the super-steeps of those climbs best, and should be able to use them as a launchpad to a stage win.
Who are the most likely outsiders?
Mikkel Honore (49/150.00) is a big price considering how close he got to Ulissi and Sagan on a similar Stage 2, and the fact that he finished ahead of Matthews there. The youngster was also prominent on Stage 6 and, given his time trialling ability, he has the option of attacking on one of the latter climbs in the belief that he could hold off the peloton.
There are several other riders who might fancy their chances with a long-range attack, and in the game of guessing which Ineos Grenadier will be given the chance today, Jhonatan Narvaez (21/122.00) might be the best bet. He's been showing prominently on stages like this in lesser races. Whether he can step up to this level is another question, but you would imagine he wouldn't be riding for his team if there were any doubts.
What effect will it have on the overall market?
There is still no shape to the Mountains Classification, and we should learn more here. On what should be a defensive day in the race for the Maglia Rosa, though, the main interest will be seeing if Sagan can take points back off Demare for the Maglia Ciclamino, who might be able to contest the first intermediate sprint, but should be ridden out of thereafter.
*Odds correct at the time of writing
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Back Mikkel Honore @ 49/150.00