The Giro swings north with a parade up the Adriatic coastline and an inevitable bunch sprint. The finish includes two late intermediate sprints and some cobbles in the last two kilometres.
Rest day wrap: nothing notable happened. Rest days do help riders recover but a 24 hour break isn’t enough to give anyone fresh legs. It’s worth mentioning that Fabio Aru has started legal action against Greg Henderson after the New Zealander tweeted suspicion about Aru’s biopassport. If it goes to court we could see Aru’s passport data made public, his recent bout of dysentery must have sent the values haywire. Just don’t hold your breath, if it proceeds the wheels of justice in Italy turn s-l-o-w so expect the case to be settled in years.
The Route: 200km of nothing, the race runs along the coastline, a paradise of la farniente with its beaches, ice cream shops and not much else. The Giro has to tour Italy and does pass the coastal stations of Ancona, Fano, Gabbice Mare – where Alex Dowsett beat Bradley Wiggins – Rimini and Cesena, a list of Italian holiday destinations. Note the two “TV” or intermediate sprints late in the stage which will help raise the bunch from its stupor.
The Finish: the last kilometres are one long straight line into Forlì before one right-hand bend just before the 1km point and then a narrow bottleneck before a left hander. This section is paved with flagstones and then the finish is on a wider tarmacked road with a 450m long straight section. It’s all flat.
The Contenders: André Greipel is the prime pick. He is among the fastest in the bunch but in a solo contest I’m not sure he’d win regularly. Instead his Lotto-Soudal team are the difference, he is a fine sprinter but the lead out they delivered last week in Castiglione della Pescaia was so good it should be shown again and again as a case study. Instead the late crashes of Daniele Colli and Alberto Contador understandably hogged the headlines.
Moreno Hofland‘s lost his lead out man Robert Wagner but could come close, he admitted to a mistake in the last sprint and I rate his leg speed. Matteo Pelucchi has complained of fatigue, will the rest day help?
Elia Viviani could be tired too as he’s been toiling for Richie Porte at times although today is his day. He leads the points jersey competition so will he contest the two TV sprints to get more points? This will help the quest for the red jersey but could cost him the stage.
Giacomo Nizzolo was so close last year but found Nacer Bouhanni in his way each time and this year it’s not going so well. The same for Luka Mezgec, once a capable understudy of Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb but he’s only cracked the top-3 once this season and seems to be sprinting to more 4-8th places. Finally a trio of fastmen who can win on the hillier days but are sure to feature: Sacha Modolo, Michael Matthews and Movistar’s J-J Lobato.
|Hofland, Pelucchi, Viviani|
|Nizzolo, Modolo, Matthews, Mezgec, Lobato|
Weather: sunshine and warm temperatures of 29°C with a light tailwind to help the peloton along.
TV: the feed starts at 3.00pm CET with and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm Euro time but could be quicker if the tailwind stirs the bunch. Cyclingfans and steephill.tv both have links to legal and pirate feeds.
The Giro is: …sexist… but so is Italy. The idea of podium girls or “podium hosts” is debatable. But this phenomenon reaches new levels in Italy with the umbrella girls deployed to shade the leaders on the start line. It’s an import from motorcycle racing where arguably the shade matters given the rider is sporting a thick leather suit in the midday sun while sat astride a motor ticking at 250°C… although of course it doesn’t require a model in a cocktail dress and high heels; but this only shows how it’s more of a gimmick in a bike race where it serves no real use. The Giro has the daily televisual parade of models wearing the leaders’ jerseys up the finishing straight each day ahead of the race. It also has the Madrina too, or “godmother” where the job description appears to involve being female, wearing a pink dress and parading around the start village with the Trofeo Senza Fine. This year’s employee is Cristina Chiabotto, pictured, a 2004 Miss Italy who is a presenter on JTV, a TV channel dedicated to Juventus, a soccer club from Torino in Miss Chiabotto’s native Piemonte region although this time she’s not been on the race much with an early appearance and not much since. La Chiabotto’s job title in Italian is una showgirl and the closest she’s probably got to cycling before was a 2005 appearance on series two of Ballando con le stelle (“Dancing With Stars”) which featured Mario Cipollini. Odd, unusual, retro? Perhaps, probably but many sports events in Italy have their Madrina and consider the wider context where female newsreaders and television presenters in Italy wear very low cut or unbuttoned shirts, even to present highbrow discussions about immigration or parliamentary budget debates. The Giro is a reflection of Italian society rather than an outpost.