Sagan perfectly suited to route

What’s the stage like?

Although the gradients are shallow, the stage starts by heading uphill twice, reaching nearly 1,000m of altitude each time, before a long descent towards the finish.

That descent is halted by a Category Three climb 26km out and, although the finish itself is advertised as flat, it actually climbs steadily in the last 5km, with a short but nasty ramp at 10% with 2km to go.

Several out-and-out sprinters are prominent in the markets, but given the hilliness of the stage and the trickiness of the finish, it looks likely that this stage will go the way of a puncheur.

Who are the favourites?

Peter Sagan ([5.00]) is the rightful favourite. Stage 2 and Stage 4 both saw him in top form, and given that his Bora Hansgrohe are likely to make this stage hard from a long way out, Sagan will face a depleted cast of rivals and should be able to take a deserved win this time.

Who are the most likely outsiders?

Michael Matthews ([7.00]) is always a danger on any stage with a tough finish, and he’s had his usual run of high places in the one-day races he’s targeted during this depleted season. He perhaps looks a little short of his best, though, and the evidence from Stage 2 was that he has a fair bit to find against Sagan.

The winner of Stage 2, Diego Ulissi ([12.00]) looks to be generously priced. Whether the finish here is quite tough enough, though, is doubtful, and Ulissi might be short of the top-end speed needing to be competitive.

Those wanting a more speculative interest at bigger odds might want to consider Mikkel Honore ([50.00]), who has shown good form on this Giro so far and is building a reputation as an effective one-day racer and sprinter.

The call, though, is Sagan. As always, he runs the risk of being ganged-up on, but it would be difficult to design a stage more perfectly to suit his talents.

What effect will it have on the overall market?

There are a few points available in the Mountains Classification, but we are yet to get a clear view of who is actually targeting the competition, and who just finds themselves prominent in its standings because of pursuing other ambitions: it’s hard to see Filippo Ganna pursuing the Blue Jersey, but then after his performance on Stage 5, perhaps we shouldn’t put it past him.

In a day that should be quiet for the now-depleted General Classification, most of the attention will be on Sagan, who will look to extend his lead in the Points Classification.

*Odds correct at the time of writing