Everyone knew Bora-Hansgrohe were going to make the stage as uncomfortable as possible.
Before the stage, Elia Viviani had said as much: “There is a climb with 40 km to go, where a guy like Sagan can set a nice pace.” Of course, knowing what is coming is one thing; doing anything about it is an entirely different matter. Simon Pellaud had already tasted the truth of this earlier in the stage. Before the first intermediate sprint at Santa Rufina, he was up against two better sprinters in Samuele Rivi and Umberto Marengo. His only recourse was to attack early, but they sped after him, caught him, regrouped, and then the whole ordeal started all over again, leaving Pellaud, with empty legs, trailing in third place.