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Giro Stage 4 Preview

An uphill finish but still one for the sprinters, just with a wider cast of contenders.

The Sho on the Road: a long day but short on action and a stage enjoyed on the radio by your blogger, the pictures were better. Nippo-Vini Fantini’s Sho Hatsuyama took off up the road and spent half the stage alone by himself, good on him and the former Japanese national champion didn’t correct team mate Nishimura’s Stage 1 exit but did give the Japanese media a good story to write home, and he added this was just him doing his job rather than avenging Nishimura’s departure. Once caught, the finale was windy but the nobody wanted to split the race up although the tension caused some crashes including Tao Geoghegan Hart who lost a bit of time on GC. The sprint saw Elia Viviani finish first but he was later relegated and Fernando Gaviria recovered the win. Harsh? Yes but reviewing host TV RAI’s Processo Della Tappa (literally the “trial of the stage”), the jury of pundits, newly armed with a lot of video replay tools for this year’s race, agreed with the commissaires which isn’t obvious for a home channel and a domestic audience.

The Route: 235km south and around the capital Rome. 235km, you’ve just read that right and the distance will be felt today and in the coming days too. The second half of the stage switches to smaller roads.

The Finish: uphill at 4% for the final 2km, but all on a big wide avenue that encircles the town. With 2km to go the road goes under a railway bridge and it’s from here onwards that it rises all the way to the line with two brief flat portions before the 1km to go banner. It’s not steep and given the speed of the bunch it pays to be sight tight on the wheels while others do the work. If there’s a lull in the pace a brave attack with some momentum could catch people by surprise but otherwise it’s still a sprint.

The Contenders: Fernando Gaviria is a light sprinter and if he struggles then his UAE Emirates team mate Simone Consonni can take over as he’s even lighter at a little more than 60kg and Diego Ulissi could try but it might not be quite steep enough for him.

Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) is another relatively light rider and has won uphill sprints in the past including a stage of the Vuelta and also the present in Turkey so maybe he might find this finish better than the flat ones. Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) is a bigger rider but versatile too.

Otherwise there are uphill sprinters, a niche normally hogged by Peter Sagan but on the Giro we have Enrico Battaglin (Katusha-Alpecin) but he was involved in a crash yesterday and might be smarting. Andrea Vendrame (Androni-Sidermec) is another and so is Juan-José Lobato (Nippo-Vini Fantini) but it’s a huge ask for the Pro Conti invitees to beat the field although Lobato has done this in the past and recently finished second to Ewan in an uphill finish in the Tour of Turkey. Tony Gallopin (Ag2r La Mondiale) has gone for these finishes before but seems less explosive these days. Grega Bole (Bahrain-Merida) is on a World Tour team but before he used to win these kind of races. Jay McCarthy can win these kind of sprints too but has a low win rate.

Caleb Ewan, Simone Consonni
Enrico Battaglin, J-J Lobato
Gaviria, Vendrame, Ulissi, McCarthy, Bole, Démare, Gallopin

Weather: grey, damp and a top temperature of 14°C, it might be mid May but this is equivalent to a winter’s day for the Lazio region of Italy.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST / Euro time and don’t tune to early for this unless you’ve  checked the ticker or social media and somehow things have gone feral. It’s on RAI in Italy, Eurosport across most of Europe and Australia, L’Equipe TV in France and Flobikes and Fubo.tv in the US.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Larry T Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 7:37 am

    Not even a single chainring for Viviani today? I would think he’ll try to let his legs do his talking for him after f–king things up yesterday and keeping his mouth shut about it. While I have no doubts he should have been relegated, former teammate Gaviria’s comments were telling. Porchetta panini for lunch today!!!

    • Ecky Thump Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 8:51 am

      Viviani may have been quiet yesterday but his outfit is much louder. Gloves, socks, shoes, helmet, shorts trim as well as jersey. I preferred Nibali’s classy but understated bands on his old Astana top.
      What do you make of it all, Don Larry?

      • Larry T Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 12:40 pm

        Two thumbs down for Viviani’s kit. I gave our friends at Nalini grief for the first jersey they made for Nibali/Astana a few years ago and was informed that (sadly) the sponsor has a lot more clout than the designers in these matters. So when I rant “I can’t believe our friends at Nalini or Santini would make something so ugly!!!!” it’s not really their fault. Remember those horrible tricolore kits Katusha had done for Pippo Pozzato? The designers must have been shaking their heads and covering their eyes!

        • Cd Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 2:51 pm

          That EV kit looks classic late eighties Italian to me. I like it! But I also went to the Jersey Shore a lot as a kid. Nostalgia.

          • Larry T Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 4:09 pm

            New Jersey “Italians” are way different than the real ones, as my favorite episode of The Sopranos (Commendatori) well-illustrated. I’ve ridden a bike past the seafront hotel in Napoli Tony and the boyz arrived at in that episode a bunch of times 🙂

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 10:43 am

      It’d make a nice revenge story but looks like the uphill finish is just too long for him, we’ll see.

      • Larry T Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 12:53 pm

        If I hadn’t been standing on the final hill where Viviani won the rights to wear that awful tricolore kit I would agree. He went up the thing on the wheel of Domenico Pozzovivo to my amazement on the day, but as you write, we’ll see.

  • jc Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 8:19 am

    Its May, its the Giro there’s a polemica….. given that the race is owned by the same folk who own the Gazzetta dello Sport I suppose it helps fill the newspaper.

    Given the final few kms it really could be anyone today even Primoz Roglic. Hopefully there will be somewhat more urgency in the peloton today, at times yesterday it did seem as though they were all on a cycling tour to admire the Tuscan countryside.

    • Larry T Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 12:48 pm

      It’s not just May or just the Giro, that’s just the only time most cycling fans pay much attention to Italy, where controversy is kind of a national sport 🙂
      I was surprised myself that nobody asked any of the peloton about the slow pace, perhaps that polemica will come back another day?
      Time to sit down with a panino porchetta https://www.porchettadiaricciadoc.com/ and a birra to watch the race! W Il Giro!

      • jc Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 1:33 pm

        It seems very slow again today, more than 20 minutes behind the slowest time in the Garibaldi. I am sure some could stop for a quick coffee and no one would notice.

        • Larry T Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 1:59 pm

          We spent an enjoyable 4 months living in Viterbo a few years ago so it’s a nice reminder scenery-wise (though for some reason Lazio has the worst pavement in Italy) but unless they get going soon I’m gonna need another espresso…or three! Petacchi on RAI TV is blaming the length of the stage and the poor weather conditions for the leisurely pace.
          Since it’s kind of dull at the moment, does anyone have details on EF’s front wheel capers yesterday? Did they somehow manage to take a foot/pedal in two different guy’s front wheels just a few minutes apart? Looked like spokes broke and both wheels needed to be changed.
          On another note, did anyone else notice the day before a team (that I can’t remember now) swapped front wheels almost instantly? Like back-in-the-day before the gawdawful lawyer tabs were mandated on the fork dropouts? Just popped open the lever and the wheel dropped out just as Tullio Campagnolo intended…then popped in the replacement wheel, a quick close of the lever and away he went!
          In recent years I’ve agonized for the competitor and his mechanic forced to deal with this CYA setup, so watching this was a pleasant surprise. I’d heard the authorities had cracked down on filing off the annoying tabs, but this fork seemed blessedly free of them. Did anyone else notice this?

  • vittorio Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 8:43 am

    What about Rojas? He used to be not so bad in sprints like this. Cheers and thanks for your reports.

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 10:42 am

      He’s similar to Lobato (and Ventoso who rides here as well) but hasn’t won anything for years, he’s swapped sprinting for team work.

  • Frood Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 9:22 am

    I could well imagine a Yates or a roglic or even a nibali having a sneaky go at the end. Some teams will be pretty spent by the end of today so there’s more chance the finale is less controlled than it might be otherwise.

  • J Evnas Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 9:36 am

    Naturally, DQS come out and complain about the route. The route had nothing to do with Viviani’s massive and unnecessary swerve at the end. I’m not saying he did it deliberately, but he did it and he impeded the Trek rider.
    I like these finishes: they require skill and tactics as well as raw speed.

    • Tricky Dicky Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 10:07 am

      … and luck! Presumably RCS wouldn’t be thrilled if that final chicane caused a mass crash which sent a few GC contenders home. It felt a bit unnecessary to me but I agree we don’t want straight drag strips all the time for the sprinters: no harm with a few technical issues to overcome to reward initiative.

      I assume Gasparotto is a bit long in the tooth to get stuck in here? It’d be nice for TDD to win something. However, I agree that Ewan or Gaviria are much safer bets.

      • J Evnas Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 10:38 am

        Gasparotto might prefer the hills to be a bit steeper, I’d have thought.

        • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 10:41 am

          Gasparotto’s been very good steep hills but today’s probably too flat. Dimension Data seemed to have signed him for points and his ability to place, wins are rare these days.

  • Simmers Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 11:09 am

    By far the trickiest stage to predict so far. Yes, the final 2km aren’t that steep, but what about the remaining 233km? Both the distance itself and the terrain will make it a very, very tough day for the pure sprinters. I imagine most of them will have an eye on tomorrow for a far better chance at a stage win.

  • Digahole Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 12:09 pm

    Is our blogger listening to an English language radio stream by chance? I’ve searched, but never managed to find one. Anyone know of a good one?

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 12:51 pm

      Italian, it’s on Rai Radio 1 and with Silvio Martinello, bumped off the TV but good on the radio although I enjoyed Massimo Ghirotto before too. Maybe one day the subject of a blog post but a slow grand tour stage is often better on the radio.

      • Digahole Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 3:09 pm

        Perfect background noise for work, a long ride… a beer in the sun. Unfortunately my Italian isn’t even close to being up to it

  • Cascarinho Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 12:44 pm

    I think it’s for Démare today. “Ca va le faire”, he says yesterday. And it’s going to be less tactic and less technical than the previous days.

  • gabriele Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 2:29 pm

    Some ten kms from the line there’s a short 8%-800m “bump” on the road, near Colonna, and the road becomes twistier. A tidy closing up to the finale could be disrupted by some attacks or some sprinter could be already forced on the back foot through a violent forcing, if any team is willing to give it a try (which is what I doubt about).

  • RQS Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 10:13 pm

    I read that Dumoulin has lost four minutes today. Time for him to go home and prepare for the TdF? A bit defeatist I know, but pragmatically his race is run.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 15 May 2019, 12:48 am

      If the knee allows he could stay for at least Stage 9 and the TT and see how that works out but among all the GC contenders he’s probably the one most able to skip the Giro if it doesn’t go to plan and refocus for the Tour.

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