Giro d'Italia 2024 stage 10 preview - a long summit finish

Will it be a day for the breakaway or the GC?

Date: Tuesday May 14, 2024
Distance: 142km
Start location: Pompei
Finish location: Cusano Mutri
Start time: 13:05 CET
Finish time (approx): 17:12 CET

Having spent the rest day sleeping under the ominous shadow cast by Mount Vesuvius, the riders will resume racing today from the most famous victim of that volcano’s eruption in AD 79 — Pompeii. For a place that’s so renowned for its well-preserved ruins, frozen in time the moment the eruption buried the town in ash, it’s perhaps surprising that a whole third of the site has yet to be excavated. While the riders are setting off to begin stage ten, archaeologists will be working on a project to uncover more ruins, taking part in a new, ongoing dig in which treasures such as beautiful frescos and a scroll detailing the last day of Plato’s life are among the new discoveries. 

Engaging with the past is something cyclists do too, albeit not anywhere near so far back in the past, when knowing what to expect from certain climbs, although they might not learn much by looking at past instances of today’s finishing climb of Bocca della Selva. As a long effort with mostly shallow gradients, it does seem a more natural mid-stage mountain pass than a mountain top finish, and indeed that was how it was used at both the 2016 and 2021 editions. On both occasions it was taken at a benign pace, with attacks coming neither in the breakaway group or the peloton, and no attempts made to drop anyone. It’s telling that the eventual stage winners on both days, Victor Lafay (in 2021) and Tim Wellens (2016), are far from being pure climbers — the climb was not hard enough to rule them out of contention.

As a mountain top finish that’s unlikely to be the case this time, and the stage win will surely come from a climber from either the break or the peloton. But is Bocca della Selva hard enough to have an impact on the GC? There’s not much in the first 6km, which rises at a steady 6%, to suggest it will, while the gradient eases off yet more for the next 6km. It’s the final third of the climb where the action will kick off, where the road kicks up again to over 7% and remains that way for most of the final 6km to the top. The whole climb might average only 5.6% across its 18km, but this final stretch, added to the accumulated fatigue of the climbing done before it, makes it a similarly hard prospect as stage two’s Oropa, if not stage eight’s Prati di Tivo. 

There’s more to this stage of the Giro d'Italia than just the final climb, too. At 142km, it may be the shortest road stage of the race outside of the finale in Rome, but included is the category two effort of Camposauro half-way into the stage, while much of the rest of the day is spent climbing uncategorised ascents. As the southernmost point of the race, heat could also be a factor, while some riders respond badly to returning to racing immediately after a rest day. The Bocca della Selva might not have made history at its previous Giro inclusions, but could be remembered as the Waterloo of a GC contender today. 

Stage profile sourced via the Giro d'Italia website 

Contenders

UAE Team Emirates and Tadej Pogačar look like they do not want to share any Giro success, having already won three stages and wearing the maglia rosa for the majority of the first week. With another uphill battle to the finish line, we wouldn’t be surprised if UAE Team Emirates shut down any chance of the breakaway taking the spoils and instead taking the glory for themselves with Pogačar. 

 And if the Slovenian is going for another stage win, the other GC contenders will need to ensure they stick to his wheel to prevent time gaps from getting any bigger. Dani Martínez (Bora-Hansgrohe) is sitting second on the GC going into the second week and has looked strong so far on the accents. So has Ben O’Connor (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale), who is just outside the top three so far and could look to overtake Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) in his bid to secure a podium spot. 

Two other riders who are slowly making their way up the GC rankings are Einer Rubio (Movistar) and Antonio Tiberi (Bahrain-Victorious). Both are strong climbers and have demonstrated their prowess during the opening week of this year’s Giro. Tiberi was also a rider who made multiple attacks on the summit finish on stage eight, placing fourth in the end. 

If a breakaway can go all the way to the end, we could expect riders such as Mauri Vansevenant (Soudal–Quick-Step), Attila Valter (Visma-Lease a Bike), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Giulio Pellizzari (Bardiani CSF-Faizanè), and Esteban Chaves (EF Education-EasyPost) to battle it out for victory on the final climb to the finish line. 

Prediction

We think Tadej Pogačar will once again stop the break from taking victory and celebrate another stage win in the opening stage of the second week. 

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