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With many sprinters having already gone home, Mark Cavendish should have his easiest sprint finish win of this year's Giro d'Italia

May 22 update: Stage 18 will be hosted by two cities making their debut in the long history of the Giro d'Italia; the start, San Vito Cadore, and the finish, Vedelago, have never hosted the Giro before. San Vito Cadore is just south of yesterday's Stage 17 finish in Cortina d'Ampezzo.

Except for two modest climbs, this short (139 km) stage is all downhill out of the Dolomites so it's a little out of place amongst the mountainous stages in the last week. The GC teams will take the day off and leave it up to the sprinter team(s), like Team Sky, to control the race.

The last 5 km into Vedelago, in the Treviso Province, are almost perfectly straight and flat on well-paved roads. If Mark Cavendish made it through Stage 17 on time then he'll be the prohibitive favorite for the sprint finish win, his fourth of this year's Giro, because so few of his sprint competitors are remain in the race. A win here would likely give him a commanding lead in the points competition (Red Jersey). All he would have to do is make the time cut on the two remaining mountain stages with the literal helping hand of the tifosi (). — Steve