This stage is a mostly challenging and lumpy course with total climbing along the distance reaching nearly 2300 metres before a flatter finish in the last 10km.
A break could survive but the peloton will be unlikely to give any grouping much rope to work with on such a short stage.
The first 110km is winding and with undulations, climbs and descents on narrow mountain roads. The route first takes in the Ruta di Camogli climb, just a few kilometres after the start, followed by Colle Caprile (KOM climb).
The course then clears the Scoffera climb, runs across Torriglia and skirts around Lago del Brugneto. It plummets down into Montebruno, with some technical sections, then climbs up again to the Barbagelata KOM summit, followed by a very long descent (with a technical first half, up to Passo della Scoglina) leading to Chiavari and, eventually, to the finish.
The final 7km of the stage roll along Via Aurelia. The route is mainly flat, with the classic undulations of coastal roads. 2km before the finish, a tunnel built to protect against rock fall (with ‘windows’ along the sea-facing side) leads to a short descent, which ends 1,200m before the stage finish. With 850m to go, a roundabout causes a slight offset in the route and presents the home straight, which is on a 6.5 metre wide asphalt road.
An effort will be made to to burn off the true sprinters like Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Luka Mezgec (Giant-Alpecin) before the finish, and Orica-GreenEDGE is sure to be among them as it hopes to position current race leader Michael Matthews for his first stage win.
This course is a prototypical one for Matthews and he will be marked closely by riders with similar characteristics - those able to handle the undulations while still carrying a finishing kick at the end.
Among those with ambitions for the stage will be Italians Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani), Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida), BMC's veteran performer Philippe Gilbert or even Australian Heinrich Haussler (IAM) if he's sufficiently recovered from a pair of Stage 2 crashes.
Ultimately though the stage will belong to the intentions of Matthews and Orica-GreenEDGE as it hopes to continue with its early success and dominate the first week of racing in the first Grand Tour of the year.