What’s the stage like?
After the successful recommendation on Stage 9 put an end to a string of punting near misses, it feels good to be heading into the last stage before the rest day playing with other people’s money. And with a more straightforward challenge facing the peloton, there’s every chance we’ll add to the coffers here.
At only 139km, this is the Giro’s shortest day this year. It starts with an uncategorised ascent of little consequence before riders largely descend all the way to the finish in Foligno. That inexorable descent is only punctuated by a short, Category 4 ascent, climbed with around 40km to go, which should offer few challenges to anyone in the peloton. All the sprinting favourites should be able to reach the closing stages still in contention.
The finish itself, whilst flat, might provide some drama, though, as riders have to negotiate what looks like a narrowing U-bend at around 1km to go. Much like on Stage 7, we might see some crashes.
Who are the favourites?
With Caleb Ewan now having left the Giro, we are left debating who the strongest sprinter is. On the back of his Stage 2 form, Tim Merlier heads the market at around 4.003/1. He should probably be favourite, but those odds look short in a race where – outside of Ewan – the relative form of the fast men is cloudy at best.
I’ve already backed him twice – on Stage 2 and Stage 5, to my cost – but despite a seeming determination in his career to always finish second, Giacomo Nizzolo (10.009/1) could validly claim to be the best sprinter left in this Giro. Those odds are juicy, but then so are the eggs that get thrown in tipster’s faces when they recommend the same guy three times in-a-row without success.
Dylan Groenewegen (10.009/1) has done remarkably well in this Giro so far considering how long he has been out of the sport. So much of sprinting is about having the race sharpness to think and act amidst chaos, and the fact that he has even got close on a couple of occasions shows the talent he possesses. He might be able to take the next step and win a stage now that Ewan is absent, but those odds look a bit skinny for a rider that there are still doubts over.
Peter Sagan (10.009/1) can never be discounted, will almost certainly finish inside the top five, but then will almost as certainly not win a stage that is so flat.
I might have to whisper it, and move out of Tipsterville if he finishes second again, but Nizzolo is, regrettably, the value bet.
Who are the most likely outsiders?
Davide Cimolai (12.0011/1) has been prominent on a few finishes and might get close, but more interesting at a bigger price is Fernando Gaviria (16.0015/1). Gaviria carried the sprinting world before him a few years ago, but a lack of form since and a 2020 season marred by two bouts of Covid-19 makes him look like a rider who has lost all confidence. His fall on Stage 8 will have added to his woes, and whilst it would be no surprise to see him winning a stage here, it probably won’t be this one.
Which leaves David Dekker (20.0019/1). He impressed earlier in the year at the UAE Tour and has been riding well at this Giro, but even with a depleted sprinters’ field, he’s probably still short of the form to beat the very best here.
What effect will it have on the overall markets?
After the dramas of Stage 9, the General Classification wannabees will be wanting to navigate their way through this stage with as little fuss as possible and arrive at the first rest day in one piece.
This will be a day for the Points Classification, then, which any one of seven riders can rightly claim to have a chance at. Watch out for the intermediate sprints to see who is most interested.
*Odds correct at the time of writing