C-Cycling - Giro d'Italia 2015 Preview and Favorites

31/05 - Stage 21 - Torino to Milano - 185 km

The route
After three exciting weeks of racing, the Giro d’Italia now comes to an end with a parade stage finishing in Milano. From the start in Torino, the riders will be in for a quiet day in the saddle. The first part of the stage is all about celebrating. After 86.6 km, the peloton reaches the first intermediate sprint in Novara. Here, we can expect Elia Viviani, Giacomo Nizzolo and Sacha Modolo to fight for the points. About 50 km later, the race enters Milano.

Upon reaching the finishing line for the first time, the riders take on seven laps of 5.4 km. The majority of the circuit isn’t very technical. However, the last 2 km feature three 90° corners and a roundabout before the last kilometer is straight-out towards the finishing line. The roundabout and the following right-hand turn, will stretch out the peloton significantly. It’s very important to be well-placed at this point.

The last intermediate sprint of the day is located on the finishing line at the end of the third lap with 21.6 km to go. The three riders gunning for the red jersey will have to balance their effort perfectly in order to be fresh for the final sprint as well. Remember, each intermediate sprint offers 20, 12, 8, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 points while there are 50, 35, 25, 18, 14, 12, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points up for grabs for the first 15 riders on the stage.

The favorites
Given his recent performances, Sacha Modolo is clearly the man to beat today. Lampre-Merida has been brilliant in setting up their Italian sprinter for the last two bunch sprints. With Roberto Ferrari and Max Richeze to lead him out, Modolo has proven almost impossible to beat. If Lampre-Merida can take the front of the peloton coming into the roundabout with about 1.3 km to go, it will be very difficult for anybody to pass Sacha Modolo before the line.

The biggest threat is probably Giacomo Nizzolo. He has finished second no less than 6 times in the last two editions of the Giro d’Italia. He’s always in the mix but he seems to lack a little luck - and speed - on the final meters. If Nizzolo wants to win in Milano, he has to anticipate Lampre-Merida’s leadout and start his sprint before Richeze drops off Modolo. Naturally, Nizzolo would love to win this stage. Today however, he may be satisfied with second place, since that would most likely give him the red jersey. He can’t afford to be too aggressive and risk missing out completely and lose the jersey.

Last year, Luka Mezgec won the final stage of the Giro. Nacer Bouhanni had been superior in the sprints but on the final day, Mezgec still managed to outsprint him. The Slovenian clearly knows how to save his legs through the last hard week of a Grand Tour. So far, Giant-Alpecin haven’t been getting anything out of this Giro. Today is their last chance to win a stage. Mezgec won’t be taking part in the two intermediate sprints, meaning he should have a bit more power in his legs for the final sprint. It won’t be easy to repeat last year’s performance but it would be very foolish to underestimate Luka Mezgec today.

The outsiders
Elia Viviani will be very eager to win this stage as well, hoping to take back the red jersey from Nizzolo. However, it doesn’t seem like the Team Sky sprinter is as strong as he was in the first week of the race. You can’t count him out but I don’t see him as fast as Nizzolo and Modolo right now. Unless he times his sprint perfectly today, I think top3 is the best he can do in Milano.

To me, Alexandr Porsev is the best chance of a surprise winner today. The Russian champion was incredibly strong in the long time trial where he finished 24th. He has been doing very well in the last couple of sprints but so far, fourth place is his best result. Porsev is clearly coming out of this Giro on a very good note. Like Mezgec, he won’t take part in the intermediate sprints and therefore, he can save his legs for the final sprint. Porsev’s main weakness are his positioning skills. In a technical final, he’s not very strong. However, with the last kilometer being straight-out towards the line, he should be able to perform well.

For other strong outsiders in the sprint, look to Moreno Hofland, Kevin Reza, Heinrich Haussler, Eduard Grosu, Davide Appollonio and Sonny Colbrelli.

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

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