Giro d'Italia 2024 stage 13 preview - a pure sprint in Cento

The peloton face one last sprint in the second week before a difficult weekend

Date: Friday May 17, 2024
Distance: 179km
Start location: Riccione
Finish location: Cento
Start time: 13:00 CET
Finish time (approx): 17:15 CET

For such a small city, Cento knows how to throw a big party. Every year, during the five Sundays that precede lent, it hosts a Carnival, one of the most famous and oldest in Europe, dating all the way back to the 17th century. Crowds of locals and tourists from around the world flock to the city centre to watch colourful parades go by, from giant papier-mâché floats to marching bands to costumed dancers. Since the 1990s, it’s become an even more exuberant affair after being twinned with the synchronous carnival of Rio de Janeiro, adding to the festivities samba dancers and drummers. 

The carnival takes place in Piazza Guercino, the city square named after Cento’s most famous son. Giovanni Francesco Barbieri was a self-taught painter born into a peasant family from the city, and was given the nickname ‘Guercino’ (which translates as ‘squinter’ in Italian) for being cross-eyed. Despite these limitations, he became one of the most famous Italian artists of the Baroque era, leaving behind a prolific output that includes frescos of early examples of some of the first carnivals. 

With the bright colours of the peloton and party atmosphere that accompanies the hubbub that surrounds a Grand Tour, the residents of Cento might see something of the carnival in the Giro d’Italia when it arrives into town today. In this case, the atmosphere and spectacle will be the main thing for spectators to anticipate, as an almost entirely flat parcours means there’s unlikely to be any racing action until the lead up to the expected bunch sprint. This is the flattest stage of the whole race, and one that the sprinters will be eager to capitalise on as it’s the last chance for a bunch finish for almost a week. The Alps can be seen ominously on the horizon to the north from Via Ferrarese road where the stage finishes, and it’s there the race will head after. 

Given the flat parcours, the kilometres that matter will be the last few, which aren’t without complications. The finishing straight is just around the corner from Piazza Guercino where the carnival is based, and is only a few hundred metres long. There will therefore be an intense battle for position heading into the roundabout and 90 degree right-hander that leads onto the finishing straight. A few more sharp turns precede that in the previous kilometre as the race reaches the city centre, making for a technical finale, while the riders must also be mindful of a slight uphill leading to the 2km to go mark as they cross a bridge over the Reno River. 

Stage profile sourced via the Giro d'Italia website


Jonathan Milan (Lidl-Trek) now has two stage wins to his name at this Giro after emerging from the chaos to take his second victory on stage 11. He is looking almost unbeatable when it comes to the fast finishes in this year’s race and sitting comfortably in the maglia ciclamino. However, there is one rider who is determined to repeat his previous success in beating Milan – Tim Merlier (Soudal–Quick-Step). He’ll be even more hungry to level himself with Milan after being relegated on stage 11 for switching across the road in the final sprint, which saw him go from second place to 89th. Before relegation, Merlier looked strong, almost shoulder-to-shoulder with Milan, but was just beaten by the Italian powerhouse. 

Another rider who is on the hunt for a stage win is Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck). He’s secured second place twice, but will not be satisfied until he manages to stand on the top step of the podium. Milan and Merlier are seemingly the only riders stopping him from achieving this. Juan Sebastián Molano (UAE Team Emirates) looked strong and was positioned well on stage 11 before being blocked by Merlier and will look to be in the running again in Cento. 

Danny van Poppel’s (Bora-Hansgrohe) best result so far is sixth place and, despite not being purest sprinter here, has an outside chance on a finish like this. The same could be said for Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain-Victorious), who came third on stage four but has struggled with consistency since. Caleb Ewan (Jayco Alula) will be disappointed with his results so far and will want to make the most of another opportunity for a stage win. Other contenders for the stage win include Alberto Dainese (Tudor Pro Cycling), Giovanni Lonardi (Team Polti Kometa), and Enrico Zanoncello (VF Group-Bardiani CSF-Fiazanè). 


It is hard to look beyond Milan and Merlier for the stage win as both have looked in incredible form throughout this Giro so far. But there can only be one winner and we think stage 13 will go to Tim Merlier

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