A series of short hills will likely do for the sprinters, writes Jack Houghton, but the course doesn't quite suit the breakaway merchants
"Expect Ulissi to have his UAE Team Emirates riding the circuits hard to ensure that breakaways are tamed, and the sprinters are dropped..."
What's the stage like?
With the Giro entering its brutal third week, this stage is not likely to be especially consequential. It is long, though. At 229km, the riders will be at it forever, eventually traversing six categorised climbs, including the same one three times on the 27km circuit finish.
That climb is steep in places - reaching a 16% gradient at times - and on the last lap it comes only 13km from the finish, so it is unlikely that the sprinters will still be in contention.
It could be a day for the breakaway, although the wide, straight roads at the start are not ideal for them. Which is why the puncheurs lead the market.
Who are the favourites?
Punchy climbs always point to one rider - Peter Sagan (16.0015/1) - and he is hard to discount here, but then Diego Ulissi (9.008/1) showed on Stage 13 that when the hills get this steep, he probably has the advantage over the likes of Sagan.
Expect Ulissi to have his UAE Team Emirates riding the circuits hard to ensure that breakaways are tamed, and the sprinters are dropped. Ulissi looks value.
Who are the most likely outsiders?
Matteo Fabbro (16.0015/1) is being touted by some as a possible contender for this stage, and his third place on Stage 7 of Tirreno-Adriatico - a similar parcours to this - suggests that he could go close. However, his record of race wins is sparse, and whether some promising rides will translate into a victory here is doubtful. Odds of 16.0015/1 certainly look too short, even if he is a local lad.
At much bigger odds, Valerio Conti (65.0064/1) is the more interesting proposition. Winner of Trofeo Matteotti earlier this season on a similar course, he possesses the perfect blend of climbing talent and explosivity in a sprint finish to have the versatility to win this stage. In the same team as Ulissi, few will be expecting a move from him, which may give him the freedom he needs.
What effect will it have on the overall market?
Expect Peter Sagan to be active on the early climbs as he tries to take the sprint points from Arnaud Demare in the Points Classification, and it will be interesting to see the commitment of Giovanni Visconti over this series of smaller climbs in the Mountains Classification.
As for the General Classification guys, it should be a relatively quiet day, trying to ensure they don't get distanced on the climbs whilst conserving as much energy as possible.
*Odds correct at the time of writing
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Back Valerio Conti @ 65.0064/1
Back Diego Ulissi @ 9.008/1