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Here comes the second week: sprints, Crans-Montana and the unpredictable Bergamo

15/05/2023

Let’s not even try to deny it, the news of Remco Evenepoel‘s positive Covid-19 test, just hours after reclaiming the leader’s jersey, has pretty much robbed us of an otherwise pleasant rest day. The Cesena time trial had given us a completely undecipherable Giro d’Italia, as open and spectacular as ever, and losing the Maglia Rosa, one of the most eagerly awaited protagonists, comes as a huge disappointment for the Belgian and a major shock for us all. That, however, does not in any way undermine the great spectacle that awaits us over the next few days, as the race gets back underway with Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) as new GC leader, just two seconds ahead of Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), 5 ahead of team-mate Tao Geoghegan Hart and 22 ahead of João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates).

In short, the Giro is even more open and every single second from here on out will be nothing short of crucial. The riders will get back on the road with the 196-km ride from Scandiano to Viareggio which, altimetry in hand, should smile on the sprinters. The long but gentle Passo delle Radici, to be tackled in the very first part of the stage, and the more demanding Monteperpoli climb (2.6 km at 8%) located 75 km from the finish line, should not in fact pose a threat to the sprinters. Same goes for Wednesday, with the 219 km Camaiore-Tortona, the longest of the Giro, which features Passo del Bracco (10.1 km at 4.4%), Colla di Boasi (9.2 km at 4%) and Passo della Castagnola (5 km at 4.5%), all of which should be quite manageable for the fast men.

Of more difficult interpretation will be Stage 12, which will take the riders from Bra to Rivoli for a total of 179 km. More specifically, the fate of this stage will be decided on the Colle Braida, which will be tackled with 27 km to go. The climb measures a total of 9.8 km at 7.1%, but the last 4 are constantly at 8-9%: a little too hard for sprinters, way more suitable for breakaways.

The first major mountain stage will come on the 13th day of the competition, with the 207 km Borgofranco d’Ivrea – Crans-Montana, featuring the endless Gran San Bernardo (34 km at 5.5%), the Cima Coppi of this edition with its 2469 metres of altitude, then, once in Switzerland, the Croix de Coeur (15.4 km at 8.8%) and the climb towards the finish line in Crans-Montana (13.1 km at 7.2%). If the big boys had the chance to hide on the climb to Campo Imperatore, they are not going to be as lucky this time. Even from the Maglia Azzurra perspective, this is a day to be marked in red.

The sprinters will be back in the 194-kilometre Sierre-Cassano Magnago. After spending the night in Canton Valais, the peloton will make its way back to Italy in the early part of the race, tackling the Simplon Pass (20.2 km at 6.5%), followed by 140 km that could not get any flatter. Finally, some fireworks are expected in the Seregno-Bergamo, a real miniature version of the Giro di Lombardia. The riders will tackle the Valico di Valcava (11.6 km at 8%), Selvino (11.1 km at 5.6%), Miragolo San Salvatore (5.2 km at 7%), and Roncola Alta (10 km at 6.7%), before the final cobbled climb to Bergamo Alta. Bottom line: there won’t be a metre to breathe, and fans are hoping to enjoy the same race format as last year’s electrifying stage in Turin.

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