A deceptively tricky stage, writes Jack Houghton, which should suit the likes of punchy Sagan and Ulissi, but where there might be a surprise
"Sagan is the preference. He's in sparkling form, won a similar stage two days ago with a heroic late move, and is more versatile than Ulissi…"
What's the stage like?
Deceptively difficult. A glancing examination of the 204km could easily result in the wrong conclusions being drawn: five categorised climbs, all of them minor, no bothers for any rider, and a hardy sprinter might even contest a select bunch sprint.
It's a stage that offers more difficulty than is initially apparent, though. Barring a few kilometres at the start and finish of featureless flatness, the rest of the day is a rhythm-busting nightmare on narrow and hazardous roads, where riders will be in an ever-fluctuating state of ascent and descent.
It's likely to favour the puncheurs again, or a breakaway merchant who risks big. What's certain is that it's a day to keep stakes small.
Who are the favourites?
Stage 10 winner Peter Sagan (9.008/1), and Stage 2 winner Diego Ulissi (10.009/1) are the rightful favourites. With Michael Matthews now out of the Giro, Sagan and Ulissi are the most accomplished on these short, punchy climbs, and it's likely that both will be eyeing a move on the final Category 4 climb in the hope of taking a lead to the finish.
The danger for both riders is that everyone in the peloton knows their pre-eminence and this can lead to Sagan and Ulissi finding themselves isolated and targeted. Not that it stops them winning, of course.
At the odds, Sagan is the preference. He's in sparkling form, won a similar stage two days ago with a heroic late move, and is more versatile than Ulissi.
Who are the most likely outsiders?
Any number of breakaway merchants. Ineos Grenadiers will fancy a go with someone, and Filippo Ganna (40.0039/1), Tao Geoghegan Hart (40.0039/1), Jonathan Castroviejo (30.0029/1), and Ben Swift (18.0017/1) are all capable. What's hard to decipher is exactly which one will be given the office.
In other teams, perennial breakaway hope Thomas De Gendt (17.0016/1) will fancy this stage, and Giovanni Visconti (40.0039/1), who might be starting to focus on a Mountains Classification bid, has the resourcefulness to cause a surprise.
The call, though, is to side with Sagan, keeping stakes small.
What effect will it have on the overall market?
It's likely that today will see movement in the General Classification. None of the contenders are going to win the Maglia Rosa because of their efforts on this stage, but one or two will find themselves out of contention by day's end.
Sagan will fancy closing the gap in the Points Classification with Stage 11 tip Arnaud Demare.
*Odds correct at the time of writing
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Back Peter Sagan @ 9.008/1