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.
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.
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.
|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.