A sprint stage or a breakaway? Probably a breakaway day, and watch out for the final 2okm which are harder than they look.
Athletic Bilbao: a stage raced hard from start to finish. It took an hour for a move to go but it wasn’t to the peloton’s liking and so it was pulled back and eventually another move barged clear. The peloton kept them close with UAE Emirates worried about Rojas in the move as a threat to Conti’s maglia rosa and by the Svolte dei Popoli climb the escapees only had one minute but this grew again and the move stuck. Onto the hilly circuit in L’Aquila and after trading moves Pello Bilbao launched the winning move to go solo and hold off Tony Gallopin who came close to completing his collection of grand tour wins in all stages. It was a frantic day with UAE running out of riders; they’ve lost Juan Sebastian Molano and now Fernando Gaviria and didn’t have enough riders to keep chasing but Trek-Segafredo, Katusha-Alpecin and Bardiani-CSF all joined in. Astana get a win but they’ve come here to win with Lopez.
The Route: 239km, the longest stage and just maybe the small climbs the final third help to break things up. It’s north, much of it along the coast, for over 200km with some climbs in land. This is the Marche region of Italy and the roads tend to go directly up the hills and are often in a poor state but the Giro sticks to the more gentle ascents, although the one to Candelara is a leg-breaker. The final part turns back and takes the coastal road back south to Pesaro. This should be familiar to some in the peloton it’s the same coastal road from Gabbice to Pesaro used in 2013 for the time trial stage when Alex Dowsett was the surprise TT winner ahead of Bradley Wiggins. It’s a twisty section of road that rises and falls, culminating in the Monte San Bartolo before a quick descent via several hairpin bends into town.
The Finish: the descent ends with 2.5km to go and it’s flat from here on. The route crosses town with a sharp right hand bend with 700m to go and then another with 250m to go, a tight bend that’s crucial for a large group.
The Contenders: sprint or a breakaway? UAE Emirates have lost their sprinter so will only chase if Conti’s race lead in danger and the big GC teams will hope to avoid trouble today. Still it’s a good day for the breakaway but who to pick, who hasn’t gone in the moves and has energy today? It’s hard to pick names so the safe bet is a sprint and the known knowns in Viviani, Démare and Ewan who can cope with the hilly finale.
|Ewan, Ackermann, Gastauer, Montaguti, Canola|
Weather: sunshine and showers, 17°C
TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST / Euro time. 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.