Slovakia’s Peter Sagan celebrates on the podium after winning the fifth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 175.5 kilometers (109 miles) with start in Saint-Die-Des-Vosges and finish in Colmar, Wednesday, July 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
- The Giro d’Italia crosses into Slovenia on Stage 15 (Sunday, May 23) with a hilly circuit
- Sunday’s route could work nicely for a breakaway, but who will win it?
- See below to see where we find value based on the betting odds for Stage 15
Grand Tour stages are generally pretty easy to characterize. There are days for the sprinters, major climbing stages that the GC often controls, and time trials. Sunday at the Giro d’Italia we have sort of a tweener.
Stage 15 features 147 kilometers between Grado and Gorizia skirting along the Slovenian border. It probably isn’t flat enough for sprinters to win the day, but lacks the challenge that will produce major action among GC contenders.
Maybe a breakaway will escape, or could this be tailor made, a hilly nuanced route for Peter Sagan? It seems unlikely that when Stage 15 begins (7:30 ET) there will much pressure applied to Egan Bernal’s overall lead.
Because the lack of clarity on Sunday, Sagan is the default heavy favorite (+250). That means if you can choose another winner, the return will be ample. Let’s look carefully at the betting odds and consider some of the top options.
Stage 15 Giro d’Italia Odds
|Rider||Odds to Win Stage||Top-3 Finish Odds at DraftKings|
|Thomas De Gendt||+2500||+900|
Odds as of May 22nd.
College basketball announcer Bill Raftery is known for his catch phrases. One of them is at the start of each game he proclaims that the team playing defense first is in “man-to-man.” However, occasionally the team starts in zone, so he alters his catch phrase to “2-3 zone, with man-to-man principles.” Stage 15 of the Giro looks like “a sprint, with hilly obstacles.”
There are three Category 4 climbs that appear just daunting enough to keep the sprinters from battling it out for daily honors. The glorified hills are not really substantial in a way that will allow for a major GC fight. Nobody should be in danger of getting dropped. That gives a breakaway a big opportunity.
On Saturday, climbing the treacherous Monte Zoncolan at the end of the day, Lorenzo Fortunato held off Jan Tratnik to win Stage 14. Both were a part of the breakaway, and Fortunato soloed for the final 3km to win by 26 seconds. Bernal increased his overall lead when he finished fourth on the day, 11 ticks ahead of Simon Yates, who is now in second place.
Bernal is 1:33 clear of Yates, with Damiano Caruso in third place, 1:51 behind the lead. Aleksandr Vlasov stands 1:57 back of Bernal, with only two other riders within three minutes of the lead. Hugh Carthy is in fourth position, 2:11 behind. Emanuel Buchmann is another 25 seconds off the pace in fifth place.
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This is exactly the type of stage that has made Sagan’s career. Seven times he has won the Points Classification at the Tour de France. Never in that period was he the fastest sprinter in the field. However, unlike typical sprinters he is versatile enough to successfully navigate obstacles, like hills.
Sagan is great at thinking through Grand Tours. He targets stages and is opportunistic. Now buyer beware, while Sagan has won 18 Grand Tour stages, he has a total of three daily victories on his last four Grand Tour’s including this year’s Giro where he won Stage 10.
What makes Sagan the enormous chalk on Sunday is the difficulty in determining who the other top options are. Sagan is logical and has the skill set to maneuver his way into contention. Every other likely winner will likely need to do it via breakaway. A breakaway surviving is very realistic, but who will be in it, and then win the day is more difficult to gauge.
Alberto Bettiol won the 2019 Tour of Flanders and followed it up with a strong 2020.
On one of the final climbs of his win at the Tour of Flanders, Bettiol took the bull by the horns. He went solo, broke towards the finish, and held off Sagan among others desperately chasing him. A move like that on Sunday may be rewarded.
Fernando Gaviria has won five stages of the Giro in his young career, and took the Points Classification in 2017. While those individual days of glory have tended to be sprints, he has a little stamina too.
Last year Gaviria won the Giro della Toscana, and took stages on the Vuelta a Burgosand and Tour du Limousin.
Diego Ulissi has been known to win breakaways and excels on hills.
At the age of 31, Ulissi has captured eight career Giro d’Italia stages.
Gianluca Brambilla has had some moments in his career. The 33-year-old has won stages on the Giro and Vuelta a España. Both took place in 2016. Both were also captured using surprising breakaways.
Brambilla won February’s Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var. He certainly could be looking for glory on Sunday in a stage that is up for grabs.
Dave Friedman has covered professional and college sports for two decades. From ESPN to the Associated Press, Regional Sports Networks, Metro Networks, and many local outlets, he has written about and broadcast major and minor events throughout the country.