STAGE 18 | High Mountains, Treviso-Alpe di Pampeago
Today's stage is High Mountain, with three,count'em, three, category 1 climbs.
198Km long, 70Km of which will be spent climbing very, very steep slopes.
The Italian boys have a Canadian problem. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-barracuda), the rangey all-rounder who has been keeping up with them on the climbs thus far - and hes till has his WMD ready to detonate - the final time trial, which could blow the rest away if things are that tight on the final day.
Purito, too, looks strong. We thought he might implode on the longer climbs, but he hasn't - and has still found the legs to inflict the damage when he needs to.
Our Italian boys Ivan Basso and Michele Scarponi have not yet won a stage. Whilst the Giro crown is the only one that counts, any champion will want at least a stage to his name as well.
So, how do they solve a problem like Ryder?
Today Liquigas-Cannondale will apply unrelenting pressure in a bid to crack Hesjedal and Purito. Assuming Szmyd suffers no more mechanicals, he'll take one for the team and lead Basso up the mountains in that steady unrelenting rhythm.
Basso - grinning, psyching out his opponents. Scarponi, glued to Basso's wheel like a gaunt ghost. Joaquim Rodriguez, eyes flitting back and forth, looking for defeat in the eyes of his rivals.
Somebody will crack. We just don't know who.
And then , as they hit the final climb, and we are a little closer to knowing who will win this Giro, a little blue man will pedal by to win the stage - and deny Basso & Scarponi of that win they desperately want.
1. Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago)
2. Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale)
Cycling news from around the web