Giro Stage 4 Preview

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Yesterday’s stage had the action concentrated mid-stage, today’s finish includes a very difficult climb near the finish.

Stage 3 Wrap: a terrible crash for Domenico Pozzovivo overshadowed the day, he crashed hard and sustained head injuries with grizzly TV images of blood on the road. The crash was banal, his front wheel slipped and a reminder of how thin the thread that holds rider’s lives can be. He’s going to be ok, this is a loss to the Giro as it removed a wildcard beyond the Contador-Aru-Porte-Uran quartet. Pozzovivo’s health matters more than a stage win but the accident overshadowed a fine day’s racing with action from the start. A large break went clear and fragmented over the course with the last remnants collected in the final few kilometres with Tinkoff-Saxo toiling hard and the final triumph of Michael Matthews in the sprint while wearing the maglia rosa. He had help in the sprint from Simon Gerrans in the final moments but then decided to follow Trek Factory Racing’s Fabio Fellini, chasing him like a policeman chases a felon before powering past in the final metres for the stage win. Masterful and all from a 24-year old.

Michael Matthews

The Route: after a brief coastal promenade the gentle Colla di Velva offers the day’s breakaway a chance to go clear. Borghetto di Vara marks the start of the Passo del Bracco, a wide and open climb that’s 5-6% most of the time but with a few irregular sections. It’s long and a proper climb even if it’s not categorised.

The Passo del Termine is just under 7% at 8% but with some steeper parts and if a rider’s breath isn’t taken away but the climb the view to the right will do it. A quasi-plateau section follows then a tricky section after Volastra to take the race down to La Spezia, a naval port city.

The Finish: there’s a finishing circuit to complete once. After crossing the line there’s a cobbled section to cross before the climb to Biassa, a village perched high above La Spezia, 2km at 5-6% as it winds uphill before a final kilometre of 10% with even steeper sections to scale and all on a bending road where a rider can quickly get out of sight. The race drops to the finish on a fast and safer road.

Michael Matthews

The Contenders: Michael Matthews again? He’s proved he can climb with the best on these shorter efforts and then smoke them in the sprint. Above all he and Orica-Greenedge have the race lead to defend and so they’ll fight for this. Simon Gerrans is back in form and a useful second card to play because he need only the follow the moves out of duty before sniping the sprint and then collecting the race lead.

Yesterday’s stage was instructive with Fabio Felline and Philippe Gilbert going close and we can expect both to feature again. Will Gilbert deploy his famous uphill attack in Biassa? One outsider is Damiano Cunego, back in form and with a very punchy finish. He could strike but I think he’s waiting for tomorrow.

Some riders lost a lot of time yesterday which gives them room to go clear today. It’s hard to filter the day’s breakaway but if a bunch of no threats go clear then Orica-Greenedge and others will let them have their chance. Sonny Colbrelli, Kévin Reza, Oscar Gatto, Anthony Roux, Simon Geshke are random picks.

Michael Matthews
Fabio Felline, Simon Gerrans, Philippe Gilbert
Cunego, Ulissi, Battaglin, Nocentini

Weather: another sunny day with pleasant temperatures of 23°C.

TV: the feed is supposed to start around 3.10pm and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm Euro time. It’s on Eurosport across much of Europe and BeIn Sports in the US. If you can’t find it on TV then Cyclingfans and steephill.tv both have links to pirate feeds too.

The Giro is: Il processo alla tappa. Literally the “stage on trial” this is Italian TV’s post stage analysis show. Almost all sports competitions on TV are followed by punditry and analysis but cycling is the odd sport out with very little post-race analysis on TV (try cyclocosm instead). It might seem your average post-event sports show but once upon a time it was revolutionary. I can’t confirm this but it’s said it was the first ever show to be screened after a sports event to digest the action. It began in 1958 as a radio show and moved to TV in 1962. Soon after, the first ever TV slow-motion was screened and apparently the autocue was invented for this broadcast. All that innovation but the show is a bit stale today with production barely out of the 1980s. Host Alessandra De Stefano does her best but the rest of the show is “men talking” or more specifically men with suspect pasts talking as they hold giant microphones. Of course they need ex-pros and most Italian household name cyclists have more baggage than Linate but perhaps it would make better radio because it’s almost all talk, rather slick video analysis to explain the craft of Michael Matthews in the sprint.

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Joe K. May 12, 2015 at 4:14 am

Yes, let’s pray for Pozzovivo. He went down hard on the downhill.

Anonymous May 12, 2015 at 2:50 pm

terrible moment, hes my favourite italian

Simon May 12, 2015 at 5:16 am

INRNG, anything worth nothing in Sky only finishing with 4 guys in the pelotons? Viviani was to be expected but was it tactical to save the others or did they crack?

Augie March May 12, 2015 at 6:14 am

If I had to guess I think they might have told guys like Kiryenka to sit up, save themselves for the big mountains as three or four guys could easily shelter Porte to the finish on a stage like this. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one wondering if Tinkoff-Saxo were pushing too hard on a non-GC day.

Dr Manhattan May 12, 2015 at 8:06 am

Certainly makes more sense than Tinkoffs Tinkov Tactic of pulling the peloton along for a sprint which they themselves don’t contest. Bjarne Riis must be spinning in his metaphorical grave…

J Evans May 12, 2015 at 8:39 am

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Sky-esque tactics make no sense at all (too many ex-Sky employees on the radio? Or one egocentric person?) – unless the plan is to weaken the opposition prior to an early attack by Contador – e.g. stage 5. I suspect this is wishful thinking and it’s just bad tactics (someone winning yesterday’s stage by 3 or 4 minutes would benefit TS, as they wouldn’t be in pink till later in the race). I also don’t think that this tactic would significantly weaken the opposition: Astana look fine and I suspect that the Sky riders were dropping back voluntarily. Even at a fast pace, a stage that length isn’t going to unduly concern them.

Augie March May 12, 2015 at 10:21 am

Exactly. Even if he hadn’t won the stage, Simon Clarke would probably have inherited the leaders jersey if the break had been allowed to go up the road, and since there were no GC threats in there that would keep OGE in pink until the first real summit finish while the GC teams kept themselves fresh. Orica should share some of their champagne with Tinkoff for kindly towing Matthews to the finish for them. Even Sky normally only ride like that when they already have the race lead to defend.

Ian May 12, 2015 at 10:08 am

Spinning in the big ring 🙂

Paul May 12, 2015 at 1:06 pm

It certainly looks like madness towing the whole Peleton for miles to keep Contador safe, they must be hurting will they be able to continue this into the big Mountain Stages to come.

Tinkov is the biggest threat to Contador winning the Giro?

Sam May 12, 2015 at 11:05 am

All possible.

Worth noting though that Colombian media are reporting that Sebas Henao had a bad stomach illness before the Giro, which presumably at the very least knocked some training days on the head for him coming into the race.

Panda May 12, 2015 at 12:51 pm

Maybe that’s right, they didn’t need to worry about Porte so much. Matthews said after the stage that because they’re great mates he let Porte ride in front of him for much of the stage.

Sam May 12, 2015 at 12:57 pm

A Canberra-Tassie alliance!

Simon May 12, 2015 at 5:17 am

Should have read “noting”

Fatso Rosa May 12, 2015 at 6:17 am

La Barba Rossa Paolini finished 6th. That’s pretty decent. Overall, Katusha is being visible so far.

Dr Manhattan May 12, 2015 at 8:07 am

Surprised to see him there in the first picture. Maybe he forgot he didnt’ have Kristoff on his wheel?

The Inner Ring May 12, 2015 at 9:11 am

He’s often good in the first week of the Giro. As for Katusha it was Kochetkov who dropped all the breakaway riders on the Barbagelata climb, a useful aide for Zakarin later.

J Evans May 12, 2015 at 9:49 am

Katusha are having a remarkable season – not suspicious at all.

Ian May 12, 2015 at 10:08 am

There’s nothing wrong with xenon.

Anthony May 12, 2015 at 6:29 am

What’s up with Lobato – sick or injured?

He should be contesting these stages surely…

Anonymous May 12, 2015 at 12:45 pm

Why?
When has he ever won a sprint that’s flat in the final km?
When has he ever got over big hills or medium mountains in a race of this class?

Anthony May 13, 2015 at 12:12 am

Sorry – I was referring to the previous stages – particularly the reduced bunch kick won by Matthews with Felline and Gilbert filling the podium.

Tricky Dicky May 12, 2015 at 7:22 am

I hear Meersman punctured twice – once at the base of the climb and then again, causing him to crash. If he’s unharmed, I think he should be in the mix too.

Looking at the stage last night and today, you have to wonder whether Sagan might have chosen the wrong race?

The Inner Ring May 12, 2015 at 9:13 am

Yes, he punctured yesterday but I think the finish here could be too spiky for him.

Larry T. May 12, 2015 at 7:49 am

BRAVO to Mathews, a marked man and the big favorite but he still managed to deliver the win. Processo may not have the slick production values craved by those with attention spans limited to seconds but I find comments from guys like Davide Cassani and Beppe Conti generally good with sometimes interesting stuff from Garzelli and Lelli (which I assume are the ones with dodgy pasts?) as well. Don’t forget they get RIDERS and team managers to come on as well, though they usually get softball type questions rather than serious grilling. Ms. De Stefano has brought an air of civility to a show that back-in-the-day often turned into a shouting match.
The route they showed on TV for stage 4 appears to be somewhat different than the original? We know from our visits there this area is prone to roads sliding down off the hill due to torrential rains, especially beyond Volastra. No matter what it should be challenging and scenic though the riders will need to keep both eyes on the road. Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Domenico Pozzovivo!!

The Inner Ring May 12, 2015 at 9:15 am

They’ve had huge floods in the area and you can see all the work they’re doing to the Vara riverbed to reduce the problems but what has changed on the route, did they not always have the Bracco-Termine combo before La Spezia?

J Evans May 12, 2015 at 8:54 am

If Porte wins the Giro, where will they put all the motorhomes?
And this idea does come with the distinct possibility of one his rivals’ ‘fans’ battering on the side of the his caravan at 3am.

noel May 12, 2015 at 9:43 am

I did wonder about a nearby Tinkov organised party going until the wee hours before a couple of key stages…

hoh May 12, 2015 at 10:18 pm

According to Sky, they kept a room for Porte in case Tinkov go overly in part mood..

Richard S May 12, 2015 at 9:25 am

It’s hard to tell whether Tinkov are being smart and keeping Contador out of trouble on a fast descent they had identified as dangerous in a recce, or if it’s just their egotist owner wanting them to display their strength after a quiet spring.

Those climbs sound a bit tasty for Matthews surely? If he gets over them and wins I’ll be very impressed. Looks more like a day for Gerrans, Gilbert, Feline and a Katusha rider no ones quite heard of.

irungo txuletak May 12, 2015 at 12:29 pm

I am sure Gilbert will try it on the climb. But there is still 10km downhill afterwards. Difficult to make it solo. Anyway, happy to see him doing well after his crash in the flèche wallonne.

Didn’t understand why Tinkov had to ride so hard neither.

Ferdi May 12, 2015 at 9:29 am

Really disappointed yesterday. I expected such a large and good breakaway to succeed and be joined by attackers from the peloton. I didn’t see the point of Tinkoff over-controlling so much. It’s ok to keep Contador outta trouble and not let the escapees get 15 minutes, but to be there until the last kilometer, is not only not effort-economical, it kills the race, as turns it into a bad Milan – San Remo without the 300km.

Chaz Ryan May 12, 2015 at 12:29 pm

I think Sky may have rested them too, if so it was a very smart move although they may have had crashes the day before or been suffering from the heat.

Joao Santos May 12, 2015 at 1:48 pm

Thanks, INRNG for your details in the “Il processo alla tappa”. It’s amazing how our sport is so closely related to the birth of the sports journalism as we know today, especially in the field of sports television broadcasts.

KB May 13, 2015 at 1:15 am

There is a fun tumblr that does a daily recap called ‘Processo a processo alla tappa”
http://californiastreaming.tumblr.com/

Also, stages 3 and 4…short stages = fireworks and full-on racing; I hope all the commenters who normally insist that only ultra-marathons are race-worthy distances, have enjoyed these too!

Cragomatic May 12, 2015 at 5:26 pm

What an absolute cluster bomb of a stage! So much going all all the time. Tinkoff Saxo chasing hard after their own man Kreuziger in the (ridiculously large) break, the accountant isolated in the finale (all the team’s hard work today and yesterday to thank for that?), Astana driving a bonkers pace, GC riders attacking and stunning breakaway win for a pubescent Italian! I think I’ve forgotten half of the stuff that happened…

Ha, and Simon Clarke celebrating in the manner of someone who thought they’d won the stage 😉

noel May 12, 2015 at 7:01 pm

and now he’s trying to claim ‘I knew Cannondale was up the road’… how to turn yourself from a lovable wally into a bit of a prat…

hoh May 12, 2015 at 10:22 pm

Wondering who’s the Movistar Guy that reminded him that he didn’t win?

gabriele May 12, 2015 at 11:21 pm

Visconti, I think.

GTGTGT May 13, 2015 at 4:32 am

Was Clarke possibly celebrating because he knew he’d be in the Maglia Rosa?

(Haven’t seen it, so it’s a genuine question).

GB May 13, 2015 at 5:04 am

That’s what he said in post-race interview but that only prompted a lot of ‘Suuuure you were…’ comments on Twitter etc.
Seems like a weird thing to hang him up for, but whatevs.

GTGTGT May 13, 2015 at 6:42 am

GB, I just watched the end.

Despite the fact that Formolo was only a couple of hundred metres ahead (ie. the reduced bunch was visible down the straight as Formolo crossed for the win), Clarke was DEFINITELY celebrating the stage win.

For mine, this is evidenced by the way he puts his hands on his head when Visconti rides past him and appears to say something to him.

No way he was celebrating the pink.

So, mark it down as another of the funny situations where this happens in pro cycling.

I wonder whether the OGE back stage pass will provide any insight into this?

GB May 13, 2015 at 7:13 am

I thought as much myself, I was referring to how oddly smug some people were being when pointing that out. ‘Embarrassed guy makes excuse for ultimately trivial goof-up’ is not exactly Il Gazzetta headline material.
It’s my own fault for checking Twitter tags, really.

Tovarishch May 12, 2015 at 6:58 pm

And a real den bez (jour sans) for Zakarin. Interesting.

J Evans May 12, 2015 at 8:11 pm

The riders make the race, but as many of us have said before, a puncheur-style stage (albeit this was a particularly difficult one) will often produce more exciting racing than a flat stage – or even a flat stage with a summit finish. And short always helps.

As for Zakarin, almost as if he had ‘targeted’ Romandie…

J Evans May 13, 2015 at 12:21 am

Hesjedal’s riding on the back is always going to cost him dearly sometimes.
Then, he says ‘Who would have known that the front group would have gone with 15 guys on that second last climb?’
Seeing as Kreuziger was up front by a large margin, I – and I’m sure most people with the faintest clue about tactics – was predicting that Astana would work hard to close that gap.
Rode like an amateur.
And even then it’s still hard to see how he lost that much time if, as he claims, he ‘had the legs’.

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