Giro Stage 4 Preview

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Giro Stage 4
Rest day? Today’s stage sees the riders given the morning off and starts well after lunch. At 112km including eight laps around the city of Bari this looks like part group recovery-ride, part exhibition criterium.

The Route: a start on the coast sees the race head through numerous olive groves to Bitonto, once home to the 17th century mathematician Giordano who spent years trying to prove parallel lines are parallel, not as obvious as it sounds. Then to Bari, southern Italy’s second city after Napoli but the Giro hasn’t visited here since 1990. Overcompensating the race will lap the city centre eight times.


The Finish: flat and with two tight turns but the roads are reasonable. The width varies but with a circuit finish the route won’t be a surprise.

The Scenario: a bunch sprint. 100% certain? No but almost as the teams will wind up the pace so high that nobody can get away and there will no hills or junctions to surprise the bunch. This stage is surely the easiest on paper but that doesn’t mean cycle tourism. In fact many will be fresh and feisty for the sprint so we should expect plenty of chancers to play hobo with the sprint trains and the crash risk is high with rain forecast.

The Contenders: Marcel Kittel vs the rest? Yes. Two sprints, two wins and each time he’s come from a seemingly unwinnable position. His win Dublin was astonishing for the way he came from so far back to beat Ben Swift and Elia Viviani on the line. It’s been great to watch on replay but it’s a problem because he should be in the right place and finishing clear rather than fighting for every metre. As fast as he is, the result is far from a forgone conclusion so we’ll see if Elia Viviani, Nacer Bouhanni and Giacomo Nizzolo can find a way to beat Kittel. As for Ben Swift, he was close but surely tomorrow is his day?

Weather: the race might have left Ireland for the south of Italy but RCS seem to have freighted the weather over from Dublin as rain is forecast. The difference is the thermometer will reach 24°C. No wind is forecast and much of the circuit is sheltered.

TV: the race is on a variety of TV channels according to where you are in the world. Eurosport is covering the race across most of Europe. beIN SPORT has the rights in the US and France. I still haven’t seen the promised Gazzetta free stream but leave a comment below if you have to share with others. There’s cyclingfans.com and steephill.tv for TV schedules and pirate feeds and more.

The finish is forecast for 5.10pm Euro time. The urban circuit might be risky in the rain but given the probability of a sprint finish and the repetitive circuit, tune in to watch the sprint.

Tjallingii: with a flat stage without any categorised climbs Belkin’s Maarten Tjallingii is sure to keep his lead in the mountains competition for today. The Dutchman is one of the few vegetarian pro cyclists. It’s an obvious constraint but one that can be balanced by a careful diet, which is exactly what most pro cyclists must live by. He gets a special dish each day from the team chef. His diet’s obviously no problem but others find his name a mouthful. Here’s how you say it:

Mike May 13, 2014 at 8:12 am

Tjallingii is one big vegetarian! I remember reading that when he did eat meat, he would put on too much size that it weighed him down too much.

The Inner Ring May 13, 2014 at 9:16 am

It seems to be a family thing, his parents are vegetarian so he is too. For him it’s no big deal but obviously of interest to many vegetarians around the world.

Jack May 13, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Are there any other known vegetarians in pro cycling? I like the idea of rooting for fellow veggies. I seem to recall David Zabriskie proclaiming himself vegan towards the end, though this didn’t prevent him from eating salmon.

Be kind to the vegetables May 14, 2014 at 4:17 am

I like to know if someone is vegetarian so I can keep away from them, if it’s not the annoying sanctimonious “I don’t eat meeeat!” it’s their terrible flatulance.

Steven May 14, 2014 at 6:02 am

I’d like to echo Jack’s sentiments. The efforts of Zabriskie and Tjallingii show that what should be an unremarkable fact might still surprise some – vegetarianism/veganism is no hindrance to elite athletic performance. As for ‘Be kind to the vegetables’, most would prefer to avoid those displaying blatant prejudice and a deep level of personal ethical insecurity.

Juan May 16, 2014 at 3:08 am

Pretty sure Mark Cavendish is too

Larry T. May 13, 2014 at 8:47 am

Another day with just a few kilometers of RACING. Ho-Hum. Reading reports that teams have been forced to have duplicate staff and equipment waiting in Bari makes me wonder if anyone’s head is screwed on properly here? Economic crisis and austerity in both Ireland and Italy, yet millions of euros squandered on charter flights so the Corsa Rosa can be rained on in Ireland. Back-in-the-day the first week of Il Giro used to count for something in contrast to LeTour’s usually boring and flat first week. That’s NOT one of the features I see as leading to LeTour’s popularity – but what do I know? At least with nothing much happening until 5 PM Italian time, I can enjoy riding my own damn bike and not miss much. W Il Giro!

Leo May 13, 2014 at 9:10 am

I doubt it is millions of euros on flights. Ireland was definitely a positive, you wouldn’t see as many roadside watchers and so much pink in Italy for three “boring” stages under the rain. Dubai would be another matter though.
The first week of the Giro never had big mountains, but also never was flat as in the Tour. This year it won’t be different, starting tomorrow.

The Inner Ring May 13, 2014 at 9:14 am

It’s a big net gain for Italy, Northern Ireland and Ireland. RCS is exporting Italian culture and being paid well for it while the Irish get tourist publicity around the world.

Larry T. May 13, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Really? I’ve been watching the Giro for over three decades and doubt the crowds in Ireland were anything greater than in Italy, bad weather or not. I’ll admit that things like Italian cheese and wine can be exported, but EXPERIENCE and ATMOSPHERE are another thing. LeTour’s not LeTour when it’s exported to the UK (and I’ve been there for it) just like the Giro’s not the Giro when it’s in Ireland, no matter how much pink lipstick is put on the pig. I wasn’t making reference just to the costs of the flights, but the entire expenditure in times of austerity in BOTH countries. Now climbing down from soapbox :-)

tj May 13, 2014 at 8:09 pm

Larry, we get that you are an Italophile ( is that a word ?), but you are in danger of being labelled a curmudgeon. The history of cycling is littered with once great races that failed to adapt or innovate eg. Paris Tours, Paris Brest Paris etc, I am sure there are Italian examples as well. IMO , the Giro in Ireland was a brilliant move to capitalize on the historic Roche triple crown from back in the day while the son and nephew are still relevant players in the sport. Plus, the pink sheep were feckin awesome ! It might just jump start the Tour of Ireland as well, though it hurts my brain to have any Mcquaid involved at at any level at all.

Abdu May 14, 2014 at 4:26 am

An excellent book along these lines is ‘Soccernomics’, published by the Guardian UK. Some great commentary and facts about the waste of money involved in hosting major events like tbe World Cup and Olympics, blowing the arguments out of the water from organisers, etc. Anyone involved in the Grand Depart in Ireland would not want to read it.

noel May 13, 2014 at 11:59 am

millions of euros – 3 planes would cost about 100k?
‘getting rained on’ – a bit like last years Giro in Italy then?

Abdu May 14, 2014 at 4:34 am

Check out CyclingTip’s piece on the logistics – http://cyclingtips.com.au/2014/05/moving-the-giro-from-ireland-to-southern-italy/

RCS chartered 3 flights to Bari, one being a cargo plane. This took all riders, team staff, etc. but left 600 staff (locals). Team buses etc. drive to Italy. Teams will need to go to the nest stage in Bari via their service course to collect items not taken to Ireland.

Huge spectator turnout, leading to more eyes on advertising, inbound travel pickup, etc. No riders died. My opinion is that this was actually a success, but then I clearly use different KPI’s..

Joe K. May 13, 2014 at 10:04 am

Where is Kittel’s lead out train? Did the team not bother to bring his usual “train” members because Kittel is expected to abandon at the start of the mountain stages, so as to keep them in reserve nice and fresh for the TdF? Or perhaps they didn’t give him a train because he obviously doesn’t need one to win.

The Inner Ring May 13, 2014 at 10:10 am

They’re there but he got bounced off the wheel and lost the train twice.

Alpen May 13, 2014 at 1:24 pm

For all that Sky never did for Cavendish, Eisel and EBH rode a heck of a lead out through the tight tricky bends in Dublin. Swift even did a good sprint. Kittel is just on fire.

Abdu May 14, 2014 at 4:23 am

They’re in ToC as well. Sheez, if the TDU cops criticism then surely the Tour of California should be for being an irrelevant expensive waste of time that detracts from the Giro… At least the TDU is good training, what’s the ToC’s excuse for living?

Joe K. May 13, 2014 at 10:08 am

In the pic above of Tjallingii the podium girls are wearing pantsuits. I’ve never seen podium girls in anything other than skirts. Perhaps this is the beginning of the end….

Colin Cox May 13, 2014 at 2:13 pm

It’s the first step towards podium boys.

Netserk May 13, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Kittel out with a fever!

https://twitter.com/marcelkittel/status/466187069342355456

“So, the Giro got me earlier then I thought. Absolutely disappointed that I have to leave this beautiful race today because of a fever. :'(((“

Robbo May 13, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Disappointing, although it does give me some respect for Giant-Shimano management/DS and team physicians; they could have told him to ‘suck it up’ but racing with a fever could have serious health consequences.

Abdu May 14, 2014 at 4:20 am

Starting a completely unfounded rumour, but Kittel had a few drinks for his birthday on the insistence of a pesky Aussie rider. Think I saw it on Twitter. Might be another O’Grady & Schleck situation?

Ok so that’s rubbish.

BC May 13, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Another exciting day for the Giro!

What the hell is wrong with modern riders, a little rain and they decide take it easy in case they slid out. The commissars need to get a grip and tell the lazy useless buggers to race or be DQd.
I am sure others will disagree, but really, this is not a sporting spectacle at any level.

jaded May 13, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Finally , my paint is dry. Now I can go and do something worthwhile. I do like Michael ” Bling” Matthews Matching helmet, Sunglasses and pink Jersey.

dwrz May 13, 2014 at 10:34 pm

The Giro passed through Bari last year (Stage 6, 2013). See: http://www.gazzetta.it/Giroditalia/2013/en/percorso-tappe/tappe.shtml?t=06&lang=en.

The Inner Ring May 13, 2014 at 10:56 pm

But no stage finish. After today I suspect the race might not be back for another quarter of a century.

Abdu May 14, 2014 at 4:21 am

Pretty funny that riders were asking the Maglia Rosa what to do. Bling Matthews is by all acounts a nice young bloke, but also no rocket scientist and certainly no patron of the peloton.

ben May 14, 2014 at 9:48 am

What colour glasses have you got on Abdu? I see it as a sign of respect.

More than that, I see it as a sign of the wonderful egalitarian nature of pro cycling. Everyone has something to offer once given the chance, and not put in the corner because of ignorant prejudices.

Not an issue May 14, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Err, 23 year old in just his 2nd GT, not a GC candidate. Not egalitarian, misplaced. Before you get your nickers completely twisted tell me what experience he can add, compared to say Petacchi or Kreuziger?

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