TWIST ENDING North along the Ionian coast into Basilicata, then inland just before they reach the Gulf of Taranto. It’s a billiard table for 170 kilometres before the finishing climb up to Matera, a town put on the tourist trail map by the Sassis, an ancient town of houses dug out of the bedrock.
Expect a barrage of attacks, with the Italian sprinters’ teams fighting hard to keep it together. A big day, then, for the likes of Lampre-Merida and Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox, with no guarantee their sprinters will be strong enough.
Stefano Zanatta says: "There are two strappi near the finish and so the outcome depends on the condition of each team’s sprinters. If Cavendish is at the top of his game today and he manages to get over them, then he’s the favourite to win here but there are very few pan-flat stages as there have been in recent years. If he doesn’t make it, you’re looking at a rider such as Matt Goss or maybe Thor Hushovd. The only sure-fire thing is that it will be a real battle."