Giro d'Italia 2024 stage 12 preview: A punchy day in the hills

A good opportunity for a strong breakaway?

Date: Thursday May 16, 2024
Distance: 193km
Start location: Martinsicuro
Finish location: Fano
Start time: 12:25 CET
Finish time (approx): 17:13 CET

Had they been so inclined, the organisers of the Giro d'Italia could have designed stage twelve as another flat parcours along the coast. Both the starting town of Martinsicuro and the finishing town of Fano are beachside resorts on the Adriatic coast, further north from yesterday’s finish at Francavilla. It would have been possible to send them directly from the former to the latter, but, perhaps reluctant to have three successive sprint stages, given the flat parcours in store tomorrow, the organisers have instead chosen to send the riders inland, where they will take on a series of hills that will instead make this a day for the puncheurs. 

The hills surrounding Fabo were also used when the Giro last visited for a stage finish in 2012. On that occasion they had the effect of taking out several of that race’s fastest finishers, most notably Tyler Farrar and Thor Hushovd, while Mark Cavendish survived to claim the victory in the reduced bunch sprint. While Cavendish was known to be able to be able to get over hills on his day, it’s more surprising to remember that Marcel Kittel managed to hang on during a stage that finished here in a stage of the 2018 Tirreno-Adriatico, considering how he was perhaps the quintessential example of the dying breed of pure heavyweight sprinters who carried a few extra kilograms in weight in order to retain more sprinting power. Few would have guessed at the time, but this was to be his last ever victory at World Tour before announcing his premature retirement the following year.  

Whereas both those stages still ended up in large bunch finishes won by pure sprinters, the severity of the climbing makes that highly unlikely today. From the first uncategorised rise just over 50km into the stage, there isn’t a single sustained stretch of flat roads for the remaining 140km to the finish. Despite all these undulations, at no point will the riders exceed 260m above sea level — these hills are very short efforts, of the kind that suit classics contenders who can produce short, anaerobic bursts, rather than the longer aerobic efforts of climbers. This stage is perhaps not therefore one to draw the GC contenders into a battle, although the opportunity is there for some to try and gain an advantage if they believe their rivals might be vulnerable on such terrain. 

It’s more likely that the most exciting action will be for the stage win. It could be that the early race is controlled and the race brought back together, either for a late attacker to win or reduced bunch sprint, but this certainly looks like a day to get into the breakaway for the optimal chance of winning the stage. Only one of the day’s many climbs is inside the final 30km, so the fate of the race could already have been decided by then. 

Stage profile sourced via the Giro d'Italia website

Contenders

This is a day which the breakaway riders will relish, while the sprinters have a tough job on their hands if they want another shot at victory. The rolling climbs on this stage can be compared to an Ardennes Classic, so the puncheurs of the peloton will be licking their lips looking at the profile. Julian Alaphilippe of Soudal Quick-Step is perhaps the most established of puncheurs in this year's Giro peloton and he's looked in decent form so far this race – if the Frenchman can get in the breakaway and get a gap on his rivals, he has a good chance on stage 12. His young Belgian teammate, Mauri Vansevenant is another rider to watch.

Another rider who will excel on this terrain is Ineos Grenadiers' Jhonatan Narváez. He won the opening stage of the Giro on similarly rolling hills and has a fantastic finishing kick, so will be a challenge to beat in a breakaway sprint. Maximilian Schachmann of Bora-Hansgrohe was also in the fight for victory on stage one of this year's race and looks to be in good form. Nicola Conci of Alpecin-Deceuninck also relishes this type of hilly terrain, as does his teammate Quinten Hermans (both of these riders are good options for Alpecin. It's worth noting that Kaden Groves has also been climbing especially well in this year's Giro, so he's another card for the Belgian squad.

The duo of Andrea Bagioli and Jasper Stuyven from Lidl-Trek will enjoy this stage and the aggressive racing that the terrain encourages, so it's likely we'll see at least one of them in the breakaway. Attila Valter is an option for Visma-Lease a Bike, a team who will definitely look to fight for the stage victory today after their GC rider and key sprinter have both abandoned the race. Alexander Kamp (Tudor Pro Cycling Team), Filippo Zana (Team Jayco AlUla) and Marco Frigo (Israel - Premier Tech) are also riders to watch on stage 12.

Prediction 

We're betting on a stage win for Jasper Stuyven of Lidl-Trek today.

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