A wide-open stage, writes Jack Houghton, where stakes (and expectations of picking a winner) should be kept small
"On a stage where all the riders are outsiders, it feels a little like you could pick a hundred of them and not get anyone in the first three..."
What's the stage like?
A long day in the saddle with riders covering 225km. Two, Category Three climbs come at the stage's midpoint, countless uncategorised climbs abound, and a Category One ascent of Valico Monte Scuro finishes things off.
That final climb is nearly 25km long, with a gradient averaging 5%, climbing to 10% in places. It's not quite a summit finish, however, with a 12km descent awaiting whichever plucky rider wants to make a bid for glory.
As a stage, it's not hard enough to bring the Maglia Rosa contenders out in force, but then it might be too early in the Giro to see a breakaway succeed when pursued by a relatively fresh peloton. A hard stage to predict.
Who are the favourites?
The predictive difficulty of the stage is highlighted by the fact that stalwart breakaway merchant, Thomas De Gendt (17/118.00), is marginal favourite in most lists. De Gendt has already been active in this year's Giro and is certainly capable of winning this, but there are several riders who could get the better of him if deciding to fight for a breakaway berth.
A similar rider to De Gendt, 2015 Giro Mountains Classification winner, Giovanni Visconti (19/120.00) is prominent in the betting. The 37-year-old will be keen to have one more success in his home Grand Tour before he retires. He is a possible here, but in what looks like a lottery, there is better value elsewhere.
Who are the most likely outsiders?
On a stage where all the riders are outsiders, it feels a little like you could pick a hundred of them and not get anyone in the first three. Nonetheless, sticking with the theory from Stage 4 that riders recently relieved from domestique duties might be worth following, I'll be having a speculative interest in Tao Geoghegan Hart at around 29/130.00, who now finds himself without team leader Geraint Thomas to look after.
What effect will it have on the overall market?
That speculation might come to a crashing halt if the General Classification contenders decide to keep a short leash on any breakaway and make this a day of note in the race for the Maglia Rosa. That's unlikely, though. Expect the notables to mark each other and ride defensively.
*Odds correct at the time of writing
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Back Tao Geoghegan Hart @ 29/130.00