As Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) slogged through the mountains, two words will have been echoing around his head: ‘Stage 18, Stage 18, Stage 18’.
Two brutal days of climbing at the Giro d’Italia mean everyone will be hoping for a largely chilled run from Borgo Valsugana to Treviso, leaving the fast men free to squabble over the final bunch sprint... assuming the breakaway does not rip up the plan.
Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) is the in-form rider with three wins already, while Cavendish is chasing his first win since the race arrived in Italy, having won Stage 3 in Hungary during the Grande Partenza.
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But with so many hard metres now in the legs, who will be freshest on the gentle run into Treviso on Thursday? And could any weakness from the sprint teams be pounced on by a break?
Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) staved off the threat of Jai Hindley (Bora-hansgrohe) in the maglia rosa battle on Stage 17, with the gap still at three seconds and the race increasingly likely to be decided on the final-day time trial.
The Ecuadorian should enjoy a day off from following attacks, although we can expect his Ineos team-mates to be stationed at the front... just in case.

HOW CAN I WATCH THE GIRO ON TV AND LIVE STREAM?

Each and every stage will be broadcast in its entirety on Eurosport, discovery+ and GCN+, bookended by The Breakaway, presented by Orla Chennaoui and Dan Lloyd. Rob Hatch and Hannah Walker will be in the commentary box with regular contributions from pundits Robbie McEwen, Sean Kelly and Adam Blythe, with Bradley Wiggins doing his thing on the back of a motorbike.

WHEN IS STAGE 18?

Tune in from 12:20-16:35 BST to watch Stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia. Watch uninterrupted coverage on eurosport.co.uk and discovery+, or watch the action from 12:30 on Eurosport 2.

STAGE 18 PROFILE AND ROUTE MAP

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Stream the Giro d'Italia live and on-demand on discovery+. You can also watch all the action live on eurosport.co.uk.
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