This is something of a transitional stage, and I'd expect the riders to use it as one. It comes between the last two days of hard racing and Sunday's queen stage to Tre Cime di Lavaredo. It also comes after two days of long post-race transfers, with a third one on tap after reaching Bergamo. Then there's the terrain itself... the highest vertical rise in the Giro, plus another kicker afterwards, followed by a descent and 30+ km of flats to the finish.
The main event will be the Passo San Marco, which at 1755 vertical meters is the longest single slog in the race (forget what I said two days ago about the Agnello, this is 300 meters more). The average grade of 6.7% is nothing to sneeze at either. There could be 100km of flats afterwards and Alessandro Petacchi still isn't winning this stage.
The Liquigas team will be under immense pressure to keep things under control, lest they want to spend that last stretch chasing back other contenders. Lampre could try something with one of their top-10 guys (other than Cunego), for kicks. Bruseghin would be a candidate for a breakaway run, assuming he didn't leave it all on the hill in today's ITT. Still, with the long, flat run-in, Danilo DiLuca's rivals will not likely see this as a place to make up some time, and I'd expect a truce to rule the day among the GC men.
My pick for the win: Paolo Bettini. He's not planning to go home empty handed.