Peter Sagan, of Slovakia, crosses the finish line in first place to win the Men’s Elite road circuit race in the UCI Road World Championships cycling races in Richmond, Va., Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
- The Giro d’Italia races through the Plain of the Po Valley on Stage 18 (Thursday, May 27) with a mostly flat course
- The first 200 of 230 kilometres are undaunting on Thursday, but the end is bumpy
- Is there value backing a breakaway, sprint, or GC contender in Stage 18?
There is only one thing keeping Stage 18 at the Giro d’Italia from being a stone cold bunch sprint. It is hard to know what legs the sprinters have left after more than 3,000 grueling kilometres. If this was early on in the event the Category 4 climb and several hills over the final 30km would not be an issue. Now, who knows?
It is always difficult to predict what riders will take part in a breakaway. A nuanced sprint screams for Peter Sagan. While it is very much unclear if this is a stage for an early break to survive, or if the race will come back together, Sagan (+600) is the favorite when Stage 18 gets going (5:45 ET) because one can imagine several ways in which he can taste victory.
Is betting value on Sagan to win his second stage in this year’s race, or a bigger price? Let’s look closely at the betting prices and look at a handful of solid options.
Stage 18 Giro d’Italia Odds
|Rider||Odds to Win Stage||Top-3 Finish Odds at DraftKings|
|Mikkel Frolich Honore||+2200||+650|
Odds as of May 26th.
The finish line is in view now, but there is too much race left to go there directly. Stage 18 begins in Rovereto, 200km northeast of Milan, and travels southeast ending in Stradella, about 65 miles south of Milan. The terrain is as mundane as it gets until the final 35km, which feature four short and not all that steep climbs. This is a piece of cake early in the race. More than two weeks in, it doesn’t look nearly as easy.
Following a rest day on Tuesday, the Giro was once again in the mountains on Wednesday. For the first time this year Egan Bernal looked human. He had dominated the race prior to Stage 17. Aside from Damiano Caruso, who was 2:24 behind, everyone else began Wednesday at least three-and-a-half minutes back.
While, not shockingly, the breakaway won the day, with Dan Martin emerging from the break and holding off João Almeida by 13 seconds, the big story was Bernal. He cracked on the final climb, losing a few seconds to Caruso, and nearly a minute to Simon Yates. While Bernal remains in the pink jersey and in very strong shape, he showed weakness, and that makes the last four stages, particularly in the mountains on Friday and Saturday, rather intriguing.
So long as Bernal isn’t completely spent, he continues to have a big advantage. He leads Caruso by 2:21, with Yates in third place 3:23 off the pace. No other rider is within six minutes of Bernal.
Over a decade Sagan has been the favorite to win dozens of Grand Tour stages. He has delivered too. The seven time Points Classification winner at the Tour de France has secured daily honors in the three biggest races a total of 18 times.
There is contrary information on whether to back Sagan on Thursday. On one hand, this is exactly the type of stage he lives for. It’s not a completely flat sprint where pure speed is all that counts. He has always been among the most tactical and strategic sprinters in the business. On the flip side, his frequency of success has steadily declined in recent years. While he is very reasonably the chalk, the price is low for someone who is riding in his fourth Grand Tour since the start of 2019, and during that time has finished first in three total stages.
2021 UEFA Champions League Odds Tracker
If instead of ending in a bunch sprint a breakaway controls the day, Diego Ulissi could be the man. He has had success over the years taking stages when among the break, and some bumps towards the finish fit well with his style.
Eight times Ulissi has won Giro d’Italia stages. While the majority of those came years ago, he finished first twice in the 2020 event.
Fernando Gaviria is coming off of a really strong year. He won the Giro della Toscana, and earned daily honors on the Vuelta a Burgosand, Tour du Limousin, and Vuelta a San Juan.
Five times Gaviria has won stages of the Giro. He won the Points Classification in 2017.
Could this be a good stage setup for Rémi Cavagna? Riding in just his second Giro, Cavagna won the Combativity Award at last year’s Vuelta a España.
Best known as a time trialist, if Cavagna’s legs have made it through the mountains alright he very well could be in the mix racing for the finish line on Thursday.
In the same way that Victor Campenaerts just earned his first Grand Tour stage win on Sunday, three days earlier it was Andrea Vendrame who negotiated his way out of the breakaway, into a two horse race with Chris Hamilton, and then finished the strongest over a lumpy conclusion for his first major stage victory.
This is the fourth straight year that Vendrame has ridden on the Giro. We have seen several previously below-the-radar riders succeed this year, and at the age of 26, Vendrame seems to have the makeup where he can be a factor in many stages.
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.