Stage 15: Grado-Gorizia
Date: May 23, 2021
Stage start: 1:40 p.m. CEST
Stage type: Rolling
This intriguing-looking stage is squeezed in between two days in the high mountains, which should mean a breakaway will go the distance, although it’s not as clear cut as that. It takes place in the Collio region between Friuli and Slovenia. Apart from one small hill, the opening 60 kilometres are pan flat, but as the race approaches Slovenia it enters a 31km circuit covered twice that will suit punchy climbers, but doesn’t completely count out the chances of sprinters like Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) who can easily cope with short ascents like these.
The circuit begins with a fourth-category climb to Gornje Cerovo (2.5km long and averaging 7 per cent), the road continuing to roll beyond it for another 15km, when the riders will return to Italian soil for a dozen or so kilometres that are flat. These lead into the second ascent into Gornje Cerovo and another full lap of the circuit.
Following the third passage up to Gornje Cerovo, the route turns eastwards, briefly entering the finish town on Gorizia, which sits right on the border between the two nations, then jumps across to Slovenia one last time for the second intermediate sprint at Novi Gorica. There’s a final climb, short but steep, which tops out about 3km from the finish line, which is sure to be used by punchy riders who are in the break or, if it’s all come back together, the bunch as a springboard for an attack.
All in all, it’s a nicely-balanced stage, which should serve up some fast, frenetic and exciting racing.
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