GIRO 2022 – Triple for Démare, VDP on the attack, new leader at the Blockhaus … What can we expect from the weekend

Will Démare offer a hat-trick in Naples?

The 8th stage, Saturday, constitutes a new opportunity for the sprinters to explain themselves … and therefore for Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) to sign a 3rd consecutive victorious group sprint, after the successes of the 5th and 6th stages, at Messina and Scalea. To do this you will have to cling to the various small climbs that mark the Neapolitan route: the departure and arrival are nearby, in the Campania capital.

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This short stage (153 km) never exceeds 200 meters in altitude but is like a real roller coaster. Halfway through the stage, you will have to complete a 19km circuit four times on winding and narrow roads that include Monte di Procida (1.8km at 6.8%). This will be covered a fourth and last time 34 km from the goal. After this ring there will still be a 700m wall at 9.3% to overcome, then a last unregistered climb (3.3 km at 4.7%) whose summit is only 6 kilometers from the finish.

Boxers will then have enough to make life difficult for sprinters. But with the form he has shown since he left the Giro and the punch we know him in those great days, Arnaud Démare seems armed to resist and give himself an eighth career victory in the Giro. You don’t win Milan-Sanremo without knowing how to manage the bumps, right?

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What surprise does Van der Poel have in store for us on Saturday?

Frustrated at not being able to escape on Friday on the trip to Potenza, it is easy to imagine the Dutchman animated by a spirit of revenge on Saturday at the start of Napoli. On paper, this eighth stage suits him a lot. Maybe not as good as stage 1 in Visegrad, where the Alpecin-Fenix ​​leader raised his arms atop a bump tough enough to take out pure sprinters but not tough enough to be reserved for climbers.

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This time around, he can’t just wait for the last 200 meters to make a difference. If Cavendish, Démare and Ewan are still there under the red flame, MVDP will undoubtedly be beaten. He will therefore have to anticipate, go on the attack. And this is good, the Neapolitan route invites one to madness. We can imagine his teammates stalking all day before putting their leader into orbit on the last climb, which will be followed by only three kilometers of descent and then three kilometers of plain to reach the finish line. One thing is certain. All eyes will be on van der Poel on Saturday. The key to this 8th stage, he holds it.

Who in pink at the Blockhaus?

Leader from the arrival at Etna on Tuesday evening, Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo) will obviously have to be vigilant on Saturday on the Neapolitan roads not lacking in pitfalls. But it is Sunday, at the Blockhaus (14 km at 8.4%), that everyone expects to see him lose the pink jersey. This ninth stage promises to be terrible – with an elevation gain of 11 km at 7.2% in particular before the last climb (Passo Lanciano) – and is only 1’42 ” ahead of Simon Yates, first in the general classification. He looks too thin before such a day, even if the Spaniard is an honest climber (11th in the Tour of the Basque Country last April).

At the Blockhaus the masks will fall: The profile of the 9th stage

The Briton is in pole position to succeed him. But he fell during the stage of Etna. His knee injury does not seem very serious, but we will only know for sure on Sunday. They are six behind Yates to last in 24 seconds or less (Kelderman, Almeida, Bilbao, Porte, Carapaz and Bardet). You are in order to dream of taking power. But be careful not to forget Lennard Kamna (2nd) and Rein Taaramae (3rd), Lopez’s escape companions on Etna, who are respectively 38 ” and 58 ” behind the Spaniard. They are known for being capable of big business. So, on a big day, why shouldn’t they have the right to dream of the pink jersey too?

What to expect from the French?

For a stage victory, of course, we must focus above all on Arnaud Démare during the Neapolitan day. The blue clan has no other sprinters. And there is hardly a boxer capable of flying over the last bump, even if this type of profile can inspire Anthony Perez, with the interesting sprint when sprinting in small groups.

On Sunday, in the high mountains, unless there is a fantastic escape by Nans Peters or Rémy Rochas, we will have to rely on Romain Bardet and Guillaume Martin. More than the stage win, we expect the former to affirm his status as a contender for the final podium, while the hierarchy has yet to be established. For the second, it will be a question of reassuring oneself after a first failed test at altitude. Was it a day off or not? He will have the answer on Sunday. On Friday, at the end of a very steep 7th stage, he confided in any case that he had experienced “much better feelings“than to Etna. A good omen. But to be confirmed during the 9th stage.

Guglielmo Martino

Credit: Getty Images

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