After a coastal procession the second half of the stage is much harder with its climbs, some categorised and some not, as well as twisting roads and all before a tricky uphill finish.
Stage 7 Wrap: they rode past Sibari, once a place famous for being so wealthy everyone lazed around enjoying themselves but the race had to ride on for 200km. Initially there were three riders in the break but Simone Ponzi (CCC Sprandi) had a mechanical and lost contact leaving Giuseppe Fonzi (Willier-Selle Italia) and Dmitry Kozonchuk (Gazprom-Rusvelo) to ride on. The stage used a long section of an express road which meant no crowds and made the spectacle even more languid. The race came to life in the finish and Caleb Ewan had the support of his team mates and jumped just at the right time to take a straight line through the curving finish road.
The Route: a coastal procession for the first 85km and then the climb into the Gargano park via Monte Sant’Angelo, a 10km climb at 6% average but often 7%, it’s a regular road with many engineered hairpins. The descent isn’t as steep but it’s on a much narrower road with more irregular bends. They then follow the coast but this time via hillier route on a road that constantly rises and falls as they cross from cape to cape.
With 12km to go the head inland and climb the cape of Coppa del Fornaro, it’s not a categorised climb but it’s certainly a real ascent. The road goes up in two parts and it’s steep to start with 10% before a false flat and then a brief descent and then a kilometre at 8% before another false flat across the top and the descent into Peschici, first via a small road. Being well place here already is crucial.
The Finish: the profile above makes the finish look easy, as if it’s just a run down into town and then a short climb up. However the road through Peschici is awkward with a tight hairpin just after the 1km go to arch and then another tight hairpin around the 500m point, a sharp corner at 250m to go and then it’s uphill to the line, the roadbook says it maxes at 12% but it’s more 6-7%.
The Contenders: a good day for the breakaway. The sprinters have no chance for the finish so they won’t chase and with tomorrow’s Blockhaus summit finish looming none of the big teams will want to chase.
Among the breakaway picks we need to think of those who can win an uphill sprint but the field isn’t packed with proven uphill sprinters and stage snipers, let alone these kind of riders who are down on GC and we also need to think of tomorrow’s summit finish too which implies that some helpers will be required to save their energy so the likes of Enrico Gasparotto (Bahrein-Merida), José Herrada (Movistar) and Ben Hermans (BMC Racing) probably don’t get a ticket to ride. Among the riders think Matteo Montaguti and Ben Gastauer (Ag2r La Mondiale), Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe). BMC Racing have shown their willing to use riders in breakaways so Silvan Dillier is a good pick again with Dylan Theuns a possibility too.
If it’s a bunch sprint then Geraint Thomas has shown he’s hunting for every second possible. Michael Woods won the bunch sprint in Terme Luigiane to show what might have been if his team had been able to pull the break back although since nobody was sprinting for the stage win or even time bonuses the result should be taken with some salt. Adam Yates, Thibaut Pinot and Bob Jungels are all candidates too.
|Thomas, Dillier, Woods, Pinot, Konrad|
Weather: sunny and mild with a top temperature of 23°C inland. A gentle breeze of 10km/h will blow from the north-east.
TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CET. There’s live coverage on home broadcaster RAI in Italy and Eurosport for much of Europe and beyond. Otherwise cyclingfans.com and steephill.tv are the go-to sites for schedules and pirata feeds.