Goodness me, that looked grotty, didn't it? There are times when we think it might be fun to be a professional bike rider. Stage 12 of the Giro d'Italia 2020 was not one of them. Hope the bus drivers had the heating on for when they arrived.
When it comes to our game it was another blank for us, as neither the panel - nor the Cycling Mole - named Jhonatan Narváez as the winner. Three for Ineos this Giro, a respectable haul to make up for their misfortune in the general classification. It was hard not to feel for Mark Padun, however, who would have challenged the Ecuadorian had it not been for an ill-timed mechanical.
Stage 13 would be a straightforward sprint stage, were it not for two annoyingly complicated climbs coming in the final 50k. The purest sprinters will likely find themselves shelled, but could there be enough time for them to return to fight it out at the finish?
Cervia to Monselice
Yer man's already shown he's not afraid of the steep stuff, but those big bumps near the end look like they'll be enough to eliminate the only rider, Arnaud Démare, faster than him in the sprint. Sagan's the obvious favourite but there's a very good reason for that.
Arriving in the beautiful Ghibelline town of Monselice will be the reward for the pretty pan flat 150km procession that will precede the two nasty climbs near the end of the stage. Those are two pretty stiff climbs, which will likely be too much for the sprinters, even the amazingly in form Arnaud Démare. There is still 14km from the top of the climb to the finish, so a break will have to be let almost totally off the leash to have a serious hope. And I don’t think that will happen because both FDJ and UAE will believe in their chances enough. It looks like it’ll be dry again into Monselice, those last few turns and bends in the final kms shouldn’t cause any issues. It’s tough to choose between Sagan and Ulissi for this one, but I’m hoping this might be another for Sagan.
Peter Sagan - Bora Hansgrohe
With a flat finish, everyone looks to the blue, white and red corner. But I'm thinking those two lumps might derail Demare. If the peloton arrives en mass my bet is on Sagan
Ben Swift - Ineos Grenadiers
Despite The Cycling Mole tipping him, yesterday wasn't his day. Or anyone's really, given the conditions. Seldom would I rather be in gloomy south London than northern Italy, but that was one such occasion. I imagine there were more than a few who wanted to take there numbers off but there was only one who didn't make it to the finish - and that was more to do with a crash from earlier in the race. Stage 13 is probably one for Sagan but if someone's going to beat him, I can only picture my namesake. He's never won a Grand Tour stage and it's time to put that right.
The Cycling Mole says...
I knew Ineos would win yesterday, shame I picked the wrong rider. Mark “Pudding” Padun was awfully unlucky, but Narváez would have rolled him in the sprint anyway. Back in the bunch we had the amusing sight of NTT riding hard for no reason whatsoever.
Stage 13 and we’ve got a tasty looking stage with two climbs near the end. The flat start is ideal for those wanting to control the break, but will any team step forward to do so? The pressure will be UAE to do this, but they have a team of snowflakes so I’m not sure if we’ll get a grandstand finish.
With three picks, Sagan starts as the favourite. The problem for him is the final climb, it is very narrow and begs to be attacked. If we get some moves on the steep slopes, he won’t be able to follow, and he won’t have teammates to chase. Such a shame, especially as Olivia spent about three hours penning her pick, in fact, has she actually finished writing yet? Ben’s going with Swifty, which is a decent shout. Ineos are flying at the minute, another win wouldn’t be a surprise.
And me? I’m going to reignite my love/hate relationship with Diego Ulissi. After giving him some stick, I’m now going to give him a little cuddle. I really am the Jose Mourinho of cycling. Someone will chase the break, probably NTT, and Ulissi will win after putting in a killer attack on the final climb. Come on Diego, you’ve always been my favourite.