Arnaud Demare has looked supreme among the sprinters on this year's Giro, writes Jack Houghton, but whether he's backable at odds-on is doubtful
"The breakaway will be safely absorbed by the sprint teams in plenty of time to set up an almost inevitable bunch finish…"
What's the stage like?
It couldn't be any more different to Stage 18. A couple of nipples aside, the profile refuses to divert from the horizontal across its whole 251km.
A breakaway will form. It will ride out front for a bit to get some coverage for sponsors, but it will be safely absorbed by the sprint teams in plenty of time to set up an almost inevitable bunch finish.
Who are the favourites?
Calamity aside, there is little reason to think he won't win this, although layers will be clinging to the hope that the exertions of repeated mountain stages will have dented his energies and appetites. That will likely turn out to be a forlorn hope, though.
Who are the most likely outsiders?
It's hard to see anyone else troubling this stage beyond Peter Sagan (5.004/1), Alvaro Hodeg (8.007/1) and Elia Viviani (16.0015/1).
Sagan's sparkling form has continued, and he must be rueing the day that Demare ever signed up for this Giro. Aside from his sole win on Stage 10, Sagan has finished second on four occasions, three of those times to Demare. The issue for Sagan is that it is not like he has been narrowly missing out behind Demare: he's looked like an aging and slowly-starving big cat outrun by a sprightly young gazelle.
And it's a similar picture for Hodeg and Viviani. Whilst both have shown some form and are able enough speedsters, they have both being picking up scraps behind Demare and Sagan. It's hard to envisage a scenario where either can win a stage here.
If Demare loses this, it will most likely be to a swashbuckling late attack. But as candidates for these are hard to predict, and Demare's odds are so short, it's likely this is a no bet day.
What effect will it have on the overall market?
If Sagan can find a way to overturn Demare, the Points Classification will be kept alive for a few more days, but otherwise it should be a quiet day for both the General Classification and Mountains Classification.
*Odds correct at the time of writing
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