Today over 500 riders took to the hills way above Finale to tackle three of the most physical stages we've seen all year. With countless blown out switchbacks, too many rocks to keep track of, and the fatigue from two days of training starting to take its toll, for many it was a battle just to survive. Only the strongest riders were able to push on every stage from start to finish.
In the women's race, Cecile Ravanel certainly had no trouble as she once again took the lead on Stage 1 and never looked back. Even with the title wrapped up she isn't backing down in the least and ended the day 1-minute 12-seconds ahead of Isabeau Courdurier. Giving chase was Katy Winton who mathematically could overtake Isabeau in the overall standings. The two started this weekend almost equal in points and both will be charging hard—they are the ones to pay attention to during tomorrow's final day of racing.
For the men, it was Damien Oton who took two convincing stage wins to top the leaderboard ahead of the two men fighting for the championship. With Sam Hill just six seconds back in second place, his fight for the title is looking stronger by the minute, but he can't afford to relax one bit tomorrow. Hot on his heels in third is Adrien Dailly who desperately needs to win here to keep his title hopes alive, but with a long 12-second gap between him and the top of the leaderboard, he will have to ride out of his skin on Sunday. However, if Hill should have any kind of trouble such as a mechanical or crash, Dailly is positioned perfectly to take full advantage.