Stage 18: Rovereto - Stradella
Stage 18: Rovoreto-Stradella
Date: May 27, 2021
Stage start: 11:45 a.m. CEST
Stage type: Flat
The race returns to the Po plain for a stage that presents the sprinters with their final chance of success. Starting in Rovereto, it’s long, although not quite as lengthy as last year’s 253km haul at a similar point in last year’s race, which was hit by bad weather and then by a rider protest that resulted in it being dramatically shortened.
That 2020 stage ended with a breakaway win for Josef Cerny, and there should be no shortage of candidates looking to emulate Deceuninck-QuickStep's Czech rider as the riders head south today. There are a few minor ripples approaching the Po plain, but barely any change in altitude at all once the race is on this pan-flat expanse.
The first intermediate sprint takes place at Cremona, 134 kilometres into the stage. After another 60km, the riders will almost have the finish town of Stradella in their sights when there’s a change of register, the route turning south into the rolling Pavia winelands to tackle a series of short climbs.
The second of these, up to Castana, is rated as a fourth-category ascent. There are two more following it, with the second intermediate sprint located in between them at Broni. The final drag, which extends for almost 4km and averages a touch under 4 per cent, tops out half a dozen kilometres from the line. Ordinarily, hills like this wouldn’t be enough to knock the sprinters out of contention, but after almost three weeks of racing and with 230km in their legs today, this is no ordinary sprint.
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