It's the final chance for the GC riders to make a difference to their finishing positions, with attacks highly likely
The Giro d’Italia final mountain days will re-shape the race overall, says Astana manager Giuseppe Martinelli. The riders face two stages in the Alps between Italy and France, today racing to Risoul, France, over the Colle dell’Agnello and Saturday over four categorised climbs to Sant’Anna di Vinadio.
Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) leads the race by three minutes over Colombian Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE), but he crashed into a snow bank mid-stage. Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) sits in third at 3-23 and 2013 winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) in fourth at 4-43.
“They are two hard stages, and too hard to only watch what the others do,” Martinelli said this morning. “Everyone will race with what they have. Something important will happen today or tomorrow, I’ve raced these roads enough to know.
“The men who are up there racing for the podium are strong, but when you are up at 2000 metres, many things can change. Nibali can still make a difference for the podium.”
Russian Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) crashed on the Agnello descent and is reported with a broken left collarbone. He was in fifth overall at the start of the day.
“What will happen? That’s the million dollar question, no one knows how aggressive or negative the race will be,” head sports director at Orica-GreenEdge, Matt White said. “The longer we go into the race, the closer to the finish, the guys start to look at their places.
“Steven Kruijswijk hasn’t shown any weakness. For him, I’d be more worried for tomorrow, we start uphill and he’ll probably be isolated after 19km.
“Will Chaves will risk it? There will be testing Steven Kruijswijk in the next 48 hours for sure.”
“They could take a risk, but Saturday’s stage is coming and they will be a bit afraid,” Eusebio Unzué, manager of Valverde’s Movistar team said.
“They want to race without losing time and maintain their spots. Anyway, on the last climb, like we’ve seen every day, something will happen. This is the Giro.”