Date: Wednesday May 25
Start: Ponte di Legno
Distance: 168 km
Another tough stage with more than 3,700 m of climbing on tap. There’s a decent climb right out of the start – the perfect opportunity for a breakaway to get clear – before a long descent leads into a tough back half of the stage. The main challenge: two Cat 1 climbs in the final 50 km. The first is the Passo del Vertrilo (11.8 km at 7.7%) followed by the Monterovere (7.9 km at a tough 9.9%). From the top of that final climb it’s undulating, downhill, then uphill to the finish line.
Who’s it for: Looks tailor-made for a breakaway, unless of course there’s enough interest from the GC men. With the majority of the climbing packed into the final 80 km, the break will need to build a large advantage early on to stand any chance of surviving.
CyclingTips’ picks: As is the case in many grand tours, the same names appear time and time again in the final week breakaways. Expect to see Yates, Formolo, Mollema, Fortunato, Carthy, etc all try again after mixed success in the past few stages.
The King of the Mountains contenders will try on every stage between now and the final time trial. Bouwman has a 68 point advantage going into stage 17, but one missed breakaway could still spell an end to his time in blue on stages such as this. A total of 89 points are on offer across the three climbs on stage 17.
With such a tough start, don’t be surprised to see all of the names above break clear on the initial ascent. Furthermore, that opening and unclassified, 8.7 km climb could prove tough for the Ineos Grenadiers to control. The opening kilometres could prove the perfect launchpad for Bora-Hansgrohe and Bahrain-Victorious to place riders in the break and set up GC strategy plays later in the stage.
A breakaway move from Emanuel Buchmann, 8th overall at 4:45, could provide the Ineos Grenadiers with a real headache. Chase too soon and Carapaz could be isolated on the final two category one ascents late in the stage, leave it too late and Buchmann could be back into contention and source of further headaches on stages 19 and 20. The opening phase of stage 17 could be Bora’s last chance to play the Buchmann card and land Hindley in pink.
When to start watching: The penultimate climb is due to begin around 3:30 pm local time (6:30 am PDT / 9:30 am EDT / 11:30 pm AEST). The final ascent is scheduled to start around 4:25 pm local time (7:25 am PDT / 10:25 am EDT / 12:25 am AEST).