Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Giro d'Italia: Stage 12 Preview & Favorites

There aren’t many chances for the pure sprinters in this year’s Giro d’Italia and this is surely one they can’t afford to miss out on. The stage is only 134 km and despite a couple of small steep hills, this will most likely end up in a mass sprint. There are only 40 km to the finish line from the top of the last climb, Santa Maria della Vittoria but even though it has parts of 14%, the sprinters should be able to make it back to the peloton.

John Degenkolb is already out of the race and that mean Argos-Shimano probably won’t line up their leadout train as they have done in the previous sprint stages. This gives more room for GreenEdge and Cannondale to take the front but the many sharp turns in the last 10 km will make it difficult to control the sprint. The final kilometer is straight out and if Quickstep manage to hit the front with Trentin and Steegmans here, no one will pass Mark Cavendish before the line.

Elia Viviani seems to be targeting the Red Jersey - hence his attack on the mountain stage the other day - and he’s been very consistent in the sprints so far. The bendy run-in isn’t exactly in his favor but if he can keep the wheel of Cavendish, I think he will make Top3 again and pass Cadel Evans. Still, if Mark Cavendish ends in front of Viviani - in Top3 - he will take the Red Jersey from Evans.

If anyone is to beat Mark Cavendish I think it will be Nacer Bouhanni. The French Champion seems to be back in shape again and he finished very fast on Stage 6. FDJ messed up their leadout on this stage and that cost Bouhanni at least a podium spot. I’m sure Bouhanni and the team are very eager to make up for that, and if Bouhanni manages to get on Cavendish’s wheel - or whoever ends up having the final lead out - he will be very difficult to keep behind.

As I said the last time we had a mass sprint, it’s very difficult to pick a joker since all the sprinters have a solid chance of Top3. I picked the yYoung Colombian Edwin Avila and he delivered as expected. I think Avila will make Top10 this time but to picker another joker, I’ll say Robert Hunter. Despite Hesjedal’s downfall, the moral must be good at Garmin after Navardauskas’ impressive stage win and with a little bit of luck, Hunter might even make podium Stage 12. He hasn’t been lucky so far and he’s been making mistakes of leaving too much room in front of him in the sprints. Guys like Ferrari and Gavazzi will always try to exploit these rooms but if Hunter manages to stay close to the right wheel, he should have a chance of making a good result.

Favorite: Mark Cavendish
Top3 Pick: Nacer Bouhanni
Joker: Robert Hunter

I promised you something extra for the Giro previews this year and here it is. In collaboration with GCN, you’ll find a short video preview of each stage of the race. Here is Stage 12:

For live coverage of the stage check out

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