2015 Giro d’Italia – Stage 18 Preview
What happened on stage 17
Lampre-Merida confirmed once again that is the most powerful team in the sprints, guiding Sacha Modolo to another win, his second in the space of a week, after the one in Lido di Jesolo. Giacomo Nizzolo came runner-up, ahead of Luka Mezgec, and posted his 9th podium in a Giro d’Italia stage. Still, there was something to be happy about for the cyclist of Trek Factory Racing, as he took the red jersey from Elia Viviani (who came 11th in Lugano), and now has a huge chance to win it in Milan, on Sunday.
What comes now
The stage between Melide and Verbania (170 kilometers) is clearly divided into two parts. The first, flat 125 kilometers run from Melide, along the shores of Lago di Lugano, lead back to Italy and roll across Varese and Sesto, to reach Lago Maggiore. The route skirts around the lake through Arona and Stresa, reaching Mergozzo and Verbania (first time), brushing very close by the finish line. Watch out for a number of obstacles, such as roundabouts, speed bumps and traffic dividers, while crossing urban areas. The route rolls past Verbania and gets to the Monte Ologno ascent that features steep gradients (average slope 9%, maximum slope 13%). The first part of the descent is curvy and technical, but with low gradients.
As the stage course reaches Alpe Segletta, the second part is wider and easier. The descent ends 5 kilometers from the finish. The last 17 kilometers run along a wide, well-paved downhill road leading from Premeno to Verbania (a former railway with slopes of approximately 5%), up to 5 kilometers from the finish in the built-up area of Verbania. The route rolls past a few roundabouts and traffic dividers, and eventually reaches the waterfront. The last 3,5 kilometers are quite uncomplicated and the finish line lies on a 200-m long straight, on 6,5-m wide asphalt road.
This is a big opportunity for a breakaway, so many riders have the 18th stage marked in their agenda since a while ago. Giovanni Visconti, Ilnur Zakarin, Carlos Betancur, Franco Pellizotti, Fabio Felline, Damiano Cunego, Tanel Kangert and Darwin Atapuma are some of the usual suspects that can mix along, hoping to put a big gap between them and the peloton, before trying to dispatch everyone else in an attempt to score an important victory.
In the pack, it will be interesting to see how Astana will fare now that Mikel Landa lies in second place and has showed that he is the most strongest rider of the team. More than sure, the Kazakh squad will forge at the front and try to isolate Alberto Contador, and then attack him. Basically, Astana will have three goals in the mountains this week: keep both Mikel Landa and Fabio Aru on the podium, score at least one more win and get Contador tired before the Tour de France.
The race will return to Verbania for the first time in 23 years. In 1992, the fight for the victory was an Italian affair, with Franco Chioccioli first, ahead of Claudio Chiappucci and Massimiliano Lelli. In the overall standings, Miguel Indurain kept his pink jersey, which he took to Milan, where he became the first Spanish rider to win the Corsa Rosa.