Stage 8 of the 2016 Giro d’Italia looks on paper to be reasonably harmless. 169km of racing bringing the riders from Foligno to Arezzo. But the two climbs that feature during the stage have the potential to draw out a breakaway victory and a potential GC move or two for those with the powers to descend effectively.
Stage 8: Foligno – Arezzo. 169km
It’s not so much the climb of Valico Della Rassinata that raises potential alarm bells in stage 8 of the Giro d’Italia. Sure it’s a climb that is not to be sniffed at, with it being 11km in length. But it peaks with 70km of racing to in a race that has almost been completely flat up until that point. Instead it is the climb of Alpe di Poti that has us on high alert for this stage, and doubtless will have many others on the edge of their seats in what could be a stage that trips up the casual GC rider.
Look out for the descending skills of Vincenzo Nibali to be at play here, he is regarded by many as one of the finest descenders in professional cycling, but also keep an eye out for a rider like Giovanni Visconti, the versatile Movistar rider who won a stage of the 2013 race to Vicenza in not too dissimilar circumstances.
It is interesting to note the shift that is developing. Growing up I knew of three categories of cyclist: climber, sprinter, time triallist. Now there is developing a fourth category, one that Vincenzo Nibali, Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan exemplify magnificently; and that is the descender category. The roads from Alpe di Potti are very much favourable to these kinds of riders. They are technical and winding and could cause a problem or two for those who feel a little less confident.