23/05 - Stage 13 - Fossano to Rivarolo Canavese - 157 km

This stage could very well be the last day for the sprinters before Trieste. It’s a short stage and this means we are in for another very fast day.

The route
From the start in Fossano, the peloton heads north towards Torino. This first long part of the stage is completely flat. With only 157 km on the menu, the peloton can’t afford to let the morning breakaway get too much of a gap. The final 50 km of the stage are a bit more undulating. There is short but steep category 4 climb in Rivara with about 35 km to go. After the descent, the riders enter Rivarolo Canavese where they start on a 22 km circuit. The intermediate sprint is located halfway through the circuit, with only 13 km to go. This means the sprinters targeting the red jersey will have to push hard twice in the final. It will be interesting to see how much this will cost them fighting for the stage win.

As you can see below, the circuit isn’t very difficult. For once, there is a chance to have an easy run-in to the final. However, since this is the Giro d’Italia, the race organizers have decided to place the finishing line right after the most technical part of the route. There are three corners within the last kilometer of stage. The final one, a right turn in a roundabout, comes with just 250 meters to go. As of Thursday, there is over 50 % chance of rain in Rivarolo Canavese on Friday afternoon. Hopefully everybody will stay upright this time.

Giro d'Italia

The favorites
After winning three stages, naturally, Nacer Bouhanni is the big favorite. He has momentum right now and Bouhanni with such confidence is close to impossible to beat in this field. FDJ has done a great job at protecting the Frenchman. They seem to deliver him in a perfect position every time. Head-to-head, it doesn’t look like anybody can match Bouhanni’s speed at the moment. He’s definitely the man to beat today.

Giacomo Nizzolo is still the biggest threat to Bouhanni. On stage 10, he was in a great position. He opened his sprint at the right time, but simply couldn’t hold off the fast Frenchman. It’s hard to see how Nizzolo should be able to beat Bouhanni. The best way probably is to stay on the wheel of Bouhanni and let him start the sprint. Maybe then, Nizzolo could come around on the final meters where he is usually very fast. His team mate, Fabio Felline, will be there to help out in the final. Coming from Torino, the young Italian will be eager to show off himself.

Giant-Shimano has the best leadout train in the race. Luka Mezgec can’t match the speed of Nacer Bouhanni and Giacomo Nizzolo, but I’m sure his team will deliver him perfectly. Most likely, the riders will be fighting for Mezgec’s wheel on the last kilometers. On the contrary to the wheel of Tyler Farrar, which probably only brings if you see it in a tricky final like this.

The outsiders
Looking at the previously stages, Ben Swift should have a solid chance of winning today. Only a monster effort by Marcel Kittel on stage 3 kept Swift from winning in Dublin. Since then, crashes and bad luck have kept the Brit away from the spot light. Team Sky is still without a stage win in this Giro d’Italia. Naturally, they are eager to change this fact. If Edvald Boasson Hagen can do a leadout like he did in Dublin, Swifty might have a chance to get a jump on Bouhanni and the rest. It won’t be easy but it’s definitely not impossible either.

This late in the race it’s hard to name any new outsiders for the bunch sprints. I think one of the only ones left is Daniele Colli. After Francesco Chicchi quit the race, Colli is the designated sprinter for Neri Sottoli now. The Italian veteran is fast on the line when given a chance. He proved this in Limburg Classic last month, when he finished 4th. On stage 2 of Driedaagse De Panne, Colli finished 6th in the sprint, beating Marcel Kittel that day. Unfortunately, Colli crashed on both stage 10 and 11. He won’t win this stage, but Top10 is definitely within his reach. On a good day, he might even do better.

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