01/06 - Stage 21 - Gemona del Friuli to Trieste - 172 km

It’s time to finish off this eventful Giro d’Italia. The general classification is settled and it’s now time for the sprinters to fight for the final piece of glory in Trieste.
The route
At first glance, this may look like a typical last-day sprint stage. The riders will be able to joke around and congratulate the overall winner Nairo Quintana as well as each other on the first 100 km before reaching Trieste. Here, the race will change significantly. Eight laps of 7.25 km await the peloton and a short climb halfway will definitely spice up things. Hold your mouse over the final part of the stage profile to see a detailed profile of the circuit.

The circuit is fast and takes place in the city center of Trieste. The climb is only 600 meters long but it does have an average gradient of nearly 5 %, peaking at 7 % near the top. There are less than 3 km to go from the top. The first part of the descent takes place on a very steep and narrow road. Then the riders turn left onto a much wider and straight-out road. This one eventually takes the peloton under la flamme rouge before they turn left onto Piazza della Libertà. The final 500 meters, alongside the sea, are flat and straight-out on Riva III Novembre.

This Giro d’Italia started out in rain. Luckily, the weather has now changed for the better. Unless something changes drastically overnight, this final stage of the race will take place in beautiful sunny weather. A proper way to finish it all off. Hopefully, everybody will stay up right today.

The favorites
Naturally, Nacer Bouhanni is the prime pick today. The Frenchman has already won three stages. He’s leading the sprint competition with 26 points and much will have to go against Bouhanni in order for him not to win the red jersey. According to his team manager, Nacer Bouhanni has never climbed better than he’s doing right now. Therefore, the short climb on the circuit shouldn’t be a problem. The other teams will most likely try something here, but if FDJ manages to place Bouhanni near the front, I doubt he will drop off.

Team Sky tried to split up the peloton on a late climb earlier in the race. However, Bouhanni managed to come back and win the stage. Ben Swift is definitely the strongest ‘climber’ of the remaining sprinters and Team Sky should try something on the climb again this time. They can’t wait until the last lap though. If Team Sky and the other teams want to drop Nacer Bouhanni, they have to go hard on the climb already with a couple of laps to go.

Giacomo Nizoolo and Trek might want to help out in such a move. Nizzolo is doing well on these kind of short climbs and hasn’t given up on winning the red jersey. He’s 26 points down, but if they manage to drop Bouhanni, Nizzolo just has to finish in top4 to take the jersey. The intermediate sprint is located on the finishing line with four laps to go. There are 20 points up for grabs to the winner here. It will be interesting to see what Trek and FDJ will do. The rest of the sprinters don’t have to fight for these points and can rest their legs. This might have an influence on the outcome of the stage.

The outsiders
Giant-Shimano won the first two sprint stages with Marcel Kittel. The German isn’t in the race any longer, but the Dutch team still has Luka Mezgec for the bunch sprints. Like Swift, Mezgec is strong on the hills and we might see Giant-Shimano helping out, trying to drop Bouhanni on the climb. It would definitely increase the Slovenian’s chances to succeed if the fast Frenchman wasn’t near the front.

Elia Viviani had big expectations for the first week of the race. So far, he hasn’t managed to do better than third place on stage 3. A bit disappointing for the strong Cannondale rider, who came to this Giro after outsprinting Mark Cavendish twice in Tour of Turkey. I think Viviani will be very motivated to finish off this race on a good note. Cannondale hasn’t had much to cheer for in this Giro. I’m sure they will do whatever they can to deliver Elia Viviani in the best possible position for the final sprint.

For other outsiders look to: Roberto Ferrari, Enrico Battaglin, Tyler Farrar and maybe even Enrico Gasparotto. The Astana rider is from the Fruili region where the stage takes part. He knows the roads and he may have planned a surprise attack on the climb. It will be extremely difficult to pull off such a move, but anything can happen after three hard weeks of racing.

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