19/05 - Stage 10 - Civitanova Marche to Forlì - 200 km

The route
After a well-deserved rest day, the Giro d’Italia continues with a stage made for the sprinters. Riding alongside the Adriatic coast for most of the day, many riders will be able to use this stage as another rest day. On paper, this is one of the easiest days in the race. The sprinters’ teams, however, can’t afford to take it too easy. They need to make sure it ends in a bunch sprint in Forlì.

The only categorized climb of the day comes in Pesaro after 107.9 km on the bike. Monte di Bartolo is about 4.5 km long and have an average gradient of just under 4 %. Most likely, not even the doomed morning breakaway will fight for the 3-2-1 KOM points on top the climb.

From Pesaro, the riders continue alongside the coast towards Rimini. The race doesn’t enter the popular holiday destination. Instead, the route takes them northwest around the city where the first intermediate sprint is located in Santarcangelo di Romagna with 40.5 km to go. The fast riders fighting for the red jersey will be forced to sprint for the remaining points. This will happen again in Cesena less than 20 km later. Two sprints this close to the finishing line could easily have an impact on the final outcome. The riders not targeting the points jersey, will be able to safe energy and arrive much fresher for the final sprint.

The finish
The run-in towards Forlì, mainly on the big SS 9 Emilia, is very easy. After Forlimpopoli, the majority of the last 9 km are straight-out. A few roundabouts are the biggest obstacles for the riders. With just over one kilometer to go, the riders reach Piazzi Saffi. Here, they turn right. The following 600 meters take place on city paves. The road narrows with 800 meters to go as it bends right onto Corso Giuseppe Mazzini. Still on the bumpy road surface, the riders continue straight-out until they reach a roundabout with 500 meters to go. The peloton will be stretched out significantly as they turn left onto Viale Vittorio Veneto. The final 400 meters are straight-out on a 7m wide asphalt road. As you can see, it’s extremely important to be well-placed before reaching these last 1500 meters.

The favorites
Lotto-Soudal took the bull by the horn on stage 6. The Belgian team controlled the stage completely and at the end Greg Henderson performed one of the most impressive leadouts of the season, setting up Andre Greipel for the win. If Henderson can hit the front just before the roundabout, with Greipel on his wheel, it will be very difficult to beat the big German in Forlì. It’s uncertain how long Greipel will stay in the race. Today might be one of his last chances to take another win in the Giro.

I’ve named Sacha Modolo as the biggest threat to Andre Greipel a couple of times in the previous previews. So far, it hasn’t worked out for the fast Italian. A confrontation with Giacomo Nizzolo saw him miss out in Genova and in Castiglione della Pescaia, he spent too much energy fighting for positions. There is no doubt that Modolo is in great shape though. If Max Richeze and Roberto Ferrari make sure he’s in perfect position into the roundabout, Lampre-Merida has a very good chance of taking their third stage win in this year’s Giro d’Italia. However, if Modolo decides to take part in the intermediate sprints, going for the red jersey, it may hamper his chances of beating Greipel. It would make sense if he concentrated fully on the final sprint.

Both Elia Viviani and Giacomo Nizzolo are targeting the points jersey. Viviani is leading the competition at the moment, 31 points ahead of Nizzolo. It will be interesting to see if both riders are taking part in the intermediate sprints. There are 50 points to the winner of the stage, 35 points to number two and 25 points to number three. A stage win today will be of huge importance. On paper, the two Italians are equally fast in a sprint like this. It’s all about positioning. Viviani won’t have much help, as Team Sky’s main focus in on Richie Porte. Nizzolo on the other hand, has a very dedicated team to support him. Trek is not used to do leadout trains but with riders like Boy Van Poppel, Marco Coledan and Fabio Felline, they should be able put Nizzolo in good position. Then it’s up to him to prove his worth.

The outsiders
Another fast Italian with a good chance today is Matteo Pelucchi. He had a very difficult start to the Giro, crashing on stage 2 and fighting hard on the climbs the following days just to stay in the race. On stage 6, Pelucchi started his sprint from a horrible, boxed-in, position but still managed to finish second behind Andre Greipel. The peloton will be stretched out in the last roundabout. If Pelucchi starts his sprint too far down once again, it will be very difficult for him to win. However, if IAM can put him in third or fourth position into the roundabout, I won’t be surprised if Matteo Pelucchi takes the biggest win of his career in Forlì this afternoon.

For other very strong candidates with a solid chance of winning this stage, look to Luka Mezgec, Moreno Hofland, Juanjo Lobato and Michael Matthews. Fast riders like Davide Appollonio, Nicola Ruffoni, Alexander Porsev and Tom Boonen probably won’t be able to win but should be around top10.

Today, we are in Marco Pantani land. We have already seen numerous greetings to the late Il Pirata during the race. Even though this stage doesn’t go through Cesenatico, home of Pantani, we can expect a lot of his fans alongside the road. Many will also be cheering for Manuel Belletti. These are his home roads too. In 2010, the Italian took a beautiful stage win in Cesenatico, dedicating it to Pantani. Today, he’ll get another chance of winning close to home. Belletti has shown great shape lately; finishing fourth on both stage 6 and stage 7. I would imagine the Southeast team to fully back their home favorite today. If so, Belletti can count on Alessandro Petacchi to lead him out. It will be extremely difficult for Manuel Belletti to beat the top favorites today. However, this Giro has already given us a few big surprises. Today we might get another one.

For live coverage of the stage, go to steephill.tv.

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