It would be fantastic if the big men would battle it out in the Queen Stage, and chances are they will. After all this is the penultimate day of action in the high mountains. Yet, with Simon Yates as dominating as before… what is there to gain?
That was the general feeling in the peloton until the Prato Nevoso stage. Dumoulin was downplaying his chances, but then, in the last kilometres before the summit finish at Prato Nevoso the maglia rosa showed his first signs of weakness. Following attacks by Dumoulin and Froome he hit the wall and lost 28 seconds in a wink of an eye. Being a better climber than Dumoulin, he should be able to bounce back – but that’s theory, let’s wait for the bare facts after more than two weeks of hard racing.
Two of today’s climbs are nothing special. Yet, what’s missing on the Colle del Lys and the climb to Sestriere is compensated by the ferociousness of both the Finestre and the Jafferau. The first one looms at kilometre 92 and shortly the riders tackle the steepest sector of 14%. But what basically is the killer on the Finestre is the steadiness combined with its sheer length. Totalling at 18.5 kilometres, the slope is hovering around 9 to 10% from foot to top. To pep it all up the last 7.8 kilometres are unpaved.
Via high altitude village Sestriere the route continues to the Monte Jafferau, which is a demanding climb of 7.2 kilometres with an average gradient of more than 9%. The sting is in the tail as the last 1.5 kilometres are averaging 10.5% with the last 500 metres even sloping at a whooping 11.6%.
With a stage finishing on the steep slopes of Monte Jafferau, it’s easy to picture an in-form and in-pink Yates riding away from the field to seal victory in style. Given the relentlessness of the final climb, it seems set for a pure climber to take the stage. López is another mountain goat who has a knack for winning iconic stages, while Froome proved to be outstanding on the Zoncolan.
That said, although the Queen Stage is one of two last opportunities for GC men to put time into their rivals, it also is a chance for mountain goats not involved on GC to escape to victory.
Favourites 19th stage 2018 Giro d’Italia
*** Chris Froome, Miguel Ángel López, Domenico Pozzovivo
** Robert Gesink, Giulio Ciccone, Thibaut Pinot, Simon Yates
* Tom Dumoulin, George Bennett, Davide Formolo, Alexandre Geniez, Nico Denz
Read also: route 19th stage 2018 Giro d’Italia.
Giro d’Italia 2018 stage 19: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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Details Colle del Lys climb
Details Colle delle Finestre
Details Colle di Sestriere
Details Jafferau climb
Details route in Bardonecchia
Colle delle Finestre in 3D
Details Jafferau climb in 3D