Giro Stage 7 Preview

A day for the sprinters with a familiar finish in Foligno, last used in 2014 when Nacer Bouhanni won the stage, profiting from the absence of other big name sprinters to collect several stages and a giant contract at Cofidis soon after. Today’s sprinters will settle for merely the stage win.

Tim Wellens

Stage 6 Review: ever had a dream you’re leading a big race? Tim Wellens must have been pinching himself yesterday as he slipped away from the bunch with team mate Pim Ligthart and Trek-Segafredo’s Laurent Didier for company. Two riders were five minutes up the road but the trio made it across to the early breakaway in no time. It looked like classic Wellens, a bold attack that wouldn’t pay off. Only behind there was no reaction and the time gap grew. The bunch was riding piano, one rider wanting to take off some clothing was spotted getting off his bike and peeling off the layers by the side of the road before handing the gear to his parked team car. With 30km to go – and on a mountain stage – riders in the peloton could be seen having a pee by the side of the road. It meant that Wellens and Co. had eight minutes to spare as they approached the final climb.

Jacob Fuglsang was an early attacker once they hit the slopes. It looked too early, too far but he got precious help from Kanstantin Siutsou who bridged across. Behind the group got smaller and smaller and then Vincenzo Nibali attacked. Normally you don’t need to move if you have a team mate up the road and if you do then you have to make sure you’re going to go clear, decisively and for good. Only Nibali’s move looked nervous, as if he was fed up with Fuglsang taking time although it was always the plan that he’d try. What ever the plan, what ever the appearance it didn’t work. The Shark was reeled in and quickly passed by others, in fact it was Dumoulin who countered and Domenico Pozzovivo was there. Moments later Ilnur Zakarin breezed across and behind the group split to pieces. It was only a matter of seconds but Chaves, Majka, Uran and others took time while Nibali, Ulissi, Landa and Amador surrended a little time, enough for La Gazzetta to put Nibali on the front page under the title “Flop Nibali” which needs little translation.

Dumoulin was impressive, authoritative but a word of caution, he is very good on short climbs and yesterday’s effort was brief, intense and not on a steep slope. Put him on an 8% gradient that takes 40 minutes to climb and the result may not be the same.

The Route: one for the sprinters. Later on the Valico della Somma is easy, a wide road of 4-5% used by trucks to cross the landscape and only enough to dump the out of form sprinters, but if the sprinters get in trouble then their teams will stop chasing and this could give any breakaway survivors an extra chance, albeit slim.


The Finish: fast, flat and familiar. The Giro finished here in 2014 and the route is identical. There’s a flat run into town. It’s not got anything wild and takes place on modern, wide roads but there are several bends with pinch-points from street furniture. A wide U-turn at 500m and the roadbook lists a bend and then just a 160m finishing straight but there’s no sharp corner, just a sweeping road.

Marcel Kittel maglia rossa giro

The Contenders: Marcel Kittel? He’s been cooked since arriving in Italy. For all his impressive climbing in the Tour de Romandie seems to be suffering on suffering on the stages with a climb or two. Today’s route still suits him but he’s no longer the certain pick we saw in the Netherlands. That’s no bad thing either as it gives something to look forward to in an otherwise linear stage. The flat finish suits him and his team perfectly.

André Greipel‘s won his stage but remains a formidable contender while Arnaud Démare wants a stage and also has his eye on the red points jersey, he trails Kittel by 18 points, a significant gap but if Démare keeps collecting in the hope Kittel abandons… well that’s a story for the coming weeks rather than today.

There’s a race of Italian sprinters in Elia Viviani, Giacomo Nizzolo and Sacha Modolo. Viviani’s told RAI on Wednesday his legs are not good, Nizzolo has yet to look convincing and Modolo was prolific last year but with Greipel and Kittel around it’s hard to find the opening.

Caleb Ewan‘s Giro debut hasn’t worked out so well but this finish sits him perfectly and Orica-Greenedge will surely do they can for him. Finally Moreno Hofland could feature, he has the power and acceleration but seems to need some luck too.

Marcel Kittel, André Greipel
Arnaud Démare, Caleb Ewan
Modolo, Viviani, Hofland, Nizzolo, Porsev, Sbaragli

Weather: sunshine and clouds with a top temperature of 19°C and a chance of rain late in the stage.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm Euro time. Eurosport is covering the race across most of Europe. beIN SPORT has the rights in the US and France while Italian host broadcaster RAI offers the best coverage with experienced commentators as well as roving reporters on motorbikes to add extra coverage. As ever, cyclinghub and are the go-to sites for schedules and pirata feeds.

43 thoughts on “Giro Stage 7 Preview”

  1. Nibali’s blaming the management for yesterday’s cock-up. Not a good sign as his team had already admitted they’d screwed things up for him at LeTour last year. Will the Shark and the rest of the contenders let the Butterfly of Maastricht (who gave him that name anyway?) take seconds here and there, then maybe add a nice chunk on Sunday? If they’re not more attentive they could find the big man with enough time in hand the Giro’s final week will only make a difference if he cracks completely – not something you want to count on I think.

      • I think Larry is correct, I heard it mentioned on television commentary the other day.
        Floats like a butterfly, I would presume?

        When was this Giro route decided, as they seem to have gone ‘a la Vuelta’ (if you’re allowed to say that, mixing up languages!)?
        It’s no bad thing, I’m enjoying it very much. Otherwise it would have been a wait until the mountains.
        At the moment Dumoulin is floating like a butterfly and stinging like a gnat..little bites here and there. Perhaps he’ll do the full bee sting on Sunday’s TT?

        Today is Gorilla Day, for me.
        I half expect his bike to drop to bits in the final sprint, such is the shake, rattle and roll he gives it.
        What’s happened to Kittel, is he suffering from vertigo?

        • Never heard it on Dutch tv – and Dumoulin gets named a lot.

          That said, it might very well blow over here and used by Dutch news outlets in the future.

          • It’s a name that goes all the way back to his junior peloton days, apparently, because of his cheekbones. Effeminate, I guess? It’s not used on Dutch TV because we’re not one for nicknames or monikers, not like the Italians are for instance.

          • And “butterfly” in a dutch nickname would be far more suited to a Belgian rider. It’d sound awesome actually, the “Vlinder van Vlaanderen”. *Got* to find some rider to stick that on! 🙂

    • I knew Nibali had spoken of not being happy with his TDF team last year; there’s always something with The Shark. However, I’d not read that team agreed to this version. As for yesterday, he’s big enough and good enough to make his own mind up surely.

    • Nibali seems quick to blame the team – hint: leave them – in last year’s Tour, it was he who did not follow the wheel on the flat stage where he lost time, hoping that others (not team mates) would do it for him. Mind you, that does make you wonder where his team mates were.
      And with the Fuglsang situation – pulling all the way to the line – things can’t be happy in that team once again.
      As I’ve said, the other riders are making a mistake if they’re allowing Dumoulin to take all this time. You’d think he would crack in the high mountains, but there’s no guarantee those stages even happen.
      I can see Kittel not making it for the sprint – seems to have no climbing legs at all. A long way from the finish, but other teams will surely want to rip up that hill and get rid of him.
      Cofidis really fell for Bouhanni winning against weak opposition.

      • That’s a great point and would absolutely infuriate these guys banking on the highest peaks to weed Dumoulin out were they not to happen as he steadily goes about winning in the now.

      • Come on, J Evans, the Bouhanni things is becoming a bit comical. The litany started when he was only podiuming or whereabouts, then people went quiet when he won those two or three WT stages. Now that he’s gone back to podiuming in minor races, here you come again.
        He’s paid more than he’s worth? Maybe. Still he had a good shot to Sanremo and wasn’t bad at all in Kuurne, either. I can’t see Cofidis buying that (on top of the WT victories) for a much lower price. You should take into account that when you’re a smaller team you must sometime pay *more* for a rider to work for you, because the athlete feels he’ll get less options in more general and sportive terms.
        Personally I even prefer him to Kittel, who I see as a sort of “incomplete”, really too much of a specialist. Cipollini was a prime climber and Classics rider compared to him. Marketing guys like the sheer display of power, that sensation of “nobody can beat him”, but the race he won this year, including the two Giro stages, were of very relative technical depth, both in terms of course and of in-form field.

        And… have another look to the first week of last Tour: well before Nibali might utter a single word on the subject, you needn’t be a genius of cycling to see that the team was riding awfully, which sure didn’t favour his confidence or form (lost energies, lack of proper protection). You can even go back to the inrng’s archives and read that I wrote something on the subject before anyone went public about it, it was there to be seen from stage one.

        That said, nice point on the possibility of a cancellation of the mountain stages. Spot on. The phantom of Tirreno-Adriatico is lingering around.

        • Bouhanni, I just don’t rate – although I freely admit to being biased: he is a violent rider.
          There’s always an excuse from him – he’s just that type.
          He won his Giro stages against poor opposition, although his Vuelta wins were impressive.
          I think FDJ kept the right guy.
          I doubt EQS mind that Kittel is a one-trick pony, because it’s quite a trick.
          As for Nibali, I did say ‘Mind you, that does make you wonder where his team mates were.’

          • J Evans, I think you could claim a part of Bouhanni’s salary: every time you have a dig at him, he goes from podiuming to winning 😀
            (this time in one of the minor French races the sponsor apparently likes so much… not a great field, but he beat a valuable rider as Debusschere and an “incomplete” one – yet quite fast – as Guardini).

  2. It’s kind of unusual to see a TT-focused general contender to do good on short/Sharp climbs, and not on the 40 minute 8 percent which was kind of a dream for cyclists like Ullrich and Indurain

    I think (or hope) this is a sign dumoulin will have a very bright future. With a bit of weight off he should be able to do the long stready climbs as well. With his powerfull TT, his agressive riding in in-between stages and abilitty to follow the puncheurs on the short climbs, a grand Tour winner could Well be in the making

    • I think Dumoulin is on a perfect development curve. He’s not a natural climber like a Quintana but he’s developing slowly and will be a phenomenal all round GC contender within a few years. This isn’t even Vuelta Dumoulin, who was three or four kilograms lighter, which makes yesterday all the more impressive. He manages to churn incredible power to weight ratios. And he likes to attack. It’s an exciting prospect.

      • I liked the analyze on Dumoulin (as encourageous yesterday result might look like, the outcome may not be the same on 8%-40min climb). In any case, to be good on punchy climbs is quite unusual for a TT specialist.
        His style of riding is also interesting, he does not hesitate to attack. Frankly speaking, I think he would like to try a good GC in this Giro (even if the base objective is still a stage or 2 + some days in pink).

      • Similar to the way that Wiggins with some weight off was able to hold on in the long alpine climbs. Whats quite refreshing is that Dumoulin is a lot more fun to watch race 🙂

      • I still think Dumoulin should have done the altitude training and focused fully on the Giro, which – in my view – is a far bigger prize than the Olympics TT.

  3. Ha ha ha Nibali’s so called “tactical mistake” because he couldn’t bridge across!! Well if he had got across it wouldn’t have been a tactical mistake then. You can’t have it both ways. He simply didn’t have the legs,. Which does not mean he wont have the legs for the next two weeks. How the press love to invent their own scripts. Perhaps memories of the old days linger when “great” leaders jumped across using one leg, breathing through one nostril while drinking from a bidon!! Thankfully, we may be past those times, hopefully, maybe!

    • You can have it both ways: if a rider attacks in a section where it is more difficult to get away, it’s even more necessary to have the legs. Nibali attacked on a flatter section into a headwind.

      He does seem quick to blame the team, though I wasn’t entirely sure that Fuglsang pulling to the line was necessarily a sign of division: by taking the bonus seconds, he stopped Dumoulin doing so, which is to Nibali’s benefit.

    • Dumoulin also said just that: Nibali attacked on a wrong moment.
      I am not convinced the outcome of yesterday is a good predictor for the rest of the race.

    • The tactical mistake was attacking in the wrong point of the climb. He should have been bridging on Fuglsang, there, not moving out himself. The attack, opportune or not, should have been started at least 500 m. before.

  4. If Lotto Soudal, who have worked hard over the last two days, put someone in the break will anyone else have the confidence in their sprinter to commit to the chase? Got to be a better breakaway chance than normal.

  5. Aren’t Kittel, Greipel and Démare are all targeting the Tour as well? Won’t completing the Giro to compete for the points jersey be counterproductive with respect to ambitions for the Tour? I seem to remember Cav being well knackered in the Tour after taking red in 2013.

    • Depends if they stick around for the whole thing or not.

      Typically the last week isn’t sprinter friendly, but this year there’s 2 or 3 stages in the final week that could be a sprinter’s stage. (Depends if they make it over that climb to Pinerolo)

      I’d reckon its a case of “stick around if you’re on form, bail if you’re fatigued”

    • Démare is not sure about the Tour de France. FDJ want to give Pinot the full support he deserves and this means reducing any sprint support for Démare. It also depends how hard the battle is, whether the red jersey contenders have to contest every intermediate sprint in the mountains or whether than can sit back sometimes.

  6. Wellens attacks must find reward in some opportunities; I think he knows he is a little short to go with big guys on the key moments, so he tries it differently. Sometimes it looks dumb, but other, when he has some luck with him (Peloton not chasing) it pays off.
    For a rider with its abilities, I find that he wins qualitatively well and in reasonable quantity;

    • I’ve just been listening to the Cycling Podcast, and it was revealed that Dumoulin and Wellens are quite friendly and that yesterday Tom D had had a word to Tim W (and maybe Pim Ligthart too) during the race to advise him that now would be a good time to make a move.
      Which they did, and it was!
      An interesting little snippet..

      • It “was revealed” sounds like it is some kind of exclusive knowledge. It’s not, can be read in all languages on all cycling sites. If it was clever of Wellens to tell it this way in his Interviews is a different thing.

    • It also helped that Dumoulin told him it was a good time to attack yesterday. It was Giant’s disinterest in chasing that made his normal hopeless attack pay off. I wonder if Wellens will be repaying the favor by serving as an ally for Dumoulin in a later mtn stage?

      • Attacks aren’t hopeless – as Wellens shows with reasonable frequency. Adventurous riding quite often pays off – and Wellens isn’t going to win either sprints (even uphill ones are unlikely) or big mountain stages.

  7. Tonight, 36 hours before a very important Time trial. It will be the first blood transfusion evening for a few guys. We will see some resurection.

  8. I dont think that Dumoulin can survive on top in de Dolomites. Too much high mountain stages for him for is preperation. He can podium, but not win. That can be different next year.

    • Hey INRG, there is a timewarp problem, or why is this “TD will never survive any montain” Vuelta posting appearing here today……

  9. Lotto-Soudal a third stage win in a row !!! this is really unbelievable. I went to check up their web site (first ever visit from me) and it looks like they were still opening champagne bottles three hours after today’s win. No news there yet.

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