We reach the halfway point of the Giro della Valle d'Aosta and while the final stage is short and sweet, stage 3 is probably the longest and hardest of the race. After how brutal the first two days were, I expect to see a large number of riders either DNF or be 30 minutes back on the leaders.
Here is my preview of stage 3 from my larger post
Stage 3 Gressan to Valtournenche (Breuil Cervinia)There is a certain subset of riders, about 25 to 30, that have shown themselves as worthy climbers and they will be the ones animating stage 3. This doesn't look like a stage for any breakaways in the finish as this will be the stage that Rob Power will look to stamp his authority.
Starting from Gressan, the race includes 4 climbs and summits at 2004 meters after climbing for 25 kilometers on Breuil Cervinia.
It is weird to say that the Les Fleurs climb, which is 11.5 kilometers and averages 7% gradient, is probably the easiest climb on tap for the riders because it is still early and most will be saving their powder for the next climb. The Col Tze Core is quite the rural and brutal climb that was last used in this race in 2013 but was used as an early climb. At a distance of 16 kilometers, the Tze Core averages 7.6% and hits a gradient of over 15% at one point. Head to Cycling Challenge for Will's take on the climb.
After the descent back down to the valley into Chatillon, the race finishes with 25 kilometers of uphill to the summit. This finish was used last year on stage 1 where Manuele Senni took the win but it didn't include the entire climb and didn't have as brutal of run-up as this stage.
After over 4000 meters of climbing on the stage, the GC winner will most likely be decided on this stage or at the very least, put enough time in to make themselves the favorite.
To me, it feels like a breakaway will either get away on the Col d'Introd (2nd time climbing it in as many days) or right after it and establish their lead on the Les Fleurs climb. Australia will keep it close enough but once on the descent, the lead will balloon to around 8 to 10 minutes as there are 50 kilometers of flat valley roads until the beginning of the Col Tzecore. On that climb, a selection from the breakaway will be drawn out while the yellow jersey group forms and begins their hunt. The gap will be significantly reduced but the catch won't be made until after the descent of the Col Tzecore. Probably early on the climb to Valtournenche will see a gruppo compatto before all hell breaks loose.
1. Rob Power
2. Laurens De Plus
3. Andrea Garosio