Giro d’Italia Stage 3 Preview

A sprint stage as the race heads for Cagliari and the ferry port to Sicily but the sailing could start on the roads because a strong wind is forecast which could make things nervous.

Greipel wins in Tortolì

Stage 2 Wrap: five riders went clear with four from wildcard invitees doing their job to enliven the stage and Daniel Teklehaimanot for the second day in a row. They got seven minutes’ lead but soon were kept on a tight leash despite what was a piano stage, a slow day that was well behind the slowest schedule in part because of a stiff breeze. The inevitable sprint finish saw the inevitable André Greipel stage win, he’s now won a stage in every grand tour he’s started since the 2008 Giro and for the first time ever he leads the Giro too. Greipel won but Caleb Ewan unclipped his foot after connecting with Fernando Gaviria in the sprint.

The Route: a short stage running south parallel to the coast and then west for the final 50 kilometres. The Capo Boi is a long drag up over and around a cape complete with hairpins but it’s 5-6% for two kilometres and won’t worry the sprinters.

The Finish: in Cagliari, Sardinia’s largest city. It’s flat and exposed to crosswinds as the race passes the salty lagoons before entering the city. With 3km to go there’s a gentle bridge over the river and an express road and the bridge slopes down to a large roundabout. After this there’s with a large road all the way to the finish. The asphalt ends with 350m to go, there are large flagstones and some of them look irregular, nothing wild but a few wide gaps can make the sprinters bounce. See for yourself with this grab from Google:

The Contenders: a sprint finish seems the most likely scenario given the flat course and because there are so few obvious sprint stages in the race that several teams have a shared interest in setting up a bunch sprint.

Third time lucky for Caleb Ewan? He wasn’t happy with his leadout train on Friday, yesterday he tangled with Gaviria so perhaps it’s today? He’s got the speed but the final straight’s flagstones don’t suit his aerodynamic position, he sprints so far over the front wheel that the irregular surface will make his back wheel bounce, so he’ll have to adjust his position to suit. André Greipel is looking very solid both in terms of speed and his bulk so he’s the safer pick. Fernando Gaviria was close yesterday but hasn’t looked so reassuring.

André Greipel
Caleb Ewan, Fernando Gaviria
Modolo, Mareczko

Weather: windy, warm and sunny with a pleasant 27°C. A 30km/h wind will blow again from the west/north-west meaning a tail/crosswind for the first 100km and then a headwind for the rest all the way to the finish line. It could gust to 50km/h.

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 and are the go-to sites for schedules and pirata feeds.

42 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 3 Preview”

  1. Ewan was looking very fast when he am Gaviria touched handle bars. Did he unclip? I wasn’t sure, I thought that perhaps in the clash his gear activator had been knocked and suddenly he found him self in say the 16 sprocket and not the 13 tooth? He certainly looked a bit peeved and could barely bring him self to speak of it in the Backstage Pass video. I reckon with no unluck he may find himself a bike length ahead of the Gorrilla perhaps

  2. The way Ewan reacted to Gaviria’s gentle touch, jerking sideways, I reckon those flagstones might send him flying. He still needs to learn to look after himself in sprints.
    Looks like Greipel’s stage – he won yesterday fairly easily and Gaviria looked slow – and Greipel will flatten those flagstones. Very impressive ten-year stretch of results.
    Praying for wind or it’s going to be another long day, however short the stage is. 5.15pm finish time? Pretty unlikely and for some of us the longer it lasts the later our bed time.

  3. I can’t see Greipel winning today, thinking about heavily opposing him on the betting exchanges for today’s stage. Footage emerged overnight of him and his teammates drinking bottled alcohol and Greipel was standing up swinging items of clothing above his head, looked to be having a blast. There’s a time and a place for partying.

    • I would suggest that how strong the winds are and what direction it is blowing from will have much more effect on the outcome today than the odd mouthful of beer and some celebrations of taking the pink jersey. If the winds are a factor then Andre Greipel must have a good chance more so than some of the lighter riders (including GC folk). Teams with plenty of classics experience must be favourites in such a situation ie Quick Step, the Lottos and Team Sky (primarily because of Geraint Thomas, he was literally blown off the road a year or so back). Vincenzo Nibali does have such experience too but not sure about the rest of his team.

    • Ah, shiny granite block paviours. Beloved of town authorities everywhere.
      Those ones on the Via Roma finish aren’t so bad.
      The blocks near us have been pounded by the convoys of lorries and buses to a jagged arete.

      It’s a mighty fast run in today, headwind too.
      One for an old, experienced head?
      I’ll go Greipel, even if he has been on the ale 🙂

  4. Appeared that in both stages Ewan’s sprint train did too much too far out – particularly with a headwind -with nothing left for the final km. A problem exacerbated by the need to have some support for Yates in the mountains and saving the best for the TdF. In trying to do both they are probably spread too thin to support either well though I hope to be proved wrong.

    • Because there are so few sprinters in the race we have fewer trains and the GC squads are doing a lot of the work to the 3km point but once this is over there’s a lot of “floating” around the front of the bunch, this hesitation helped Pöstlberger on Friday.

      • And, as I pointed out elsewhere, we’ve got fewer sprinters than usual because many teams don’t want to find themselves in the kind of predicament about GC support which DJW hints at. Circle closed. 😉

  5. It certainly looks like Nizzolo won’t win the sprinters jersey for the 3rd year in a row. He got dropped yesterday. So between griepel / Ewan / gaviria and perhaps modolo, it’s a question of who stays in the race until Milan.

    • We’ll see. Huge lack of racing days for Nizzolo because of his knee problem (he started the Giro with less than a week of racing since the winter, I think); if he doesn’t sink under the burden of exhaustion, he might grow better through the race. Those who scored most point until now won’t get to Milan (or wno’t really contest the jersey, like Pöstlberger, I presume).

      • I read an interview with Gaviria and he said his biggest goal of the Giro is to make it to Milan. Since he’s my main sprinter on my VeloGames team, I’m hoping he stays in it.

        • I’d really hope so, too, even if I didn’t buy him in any game 😉

          All the same, the idea itself which he expressed suggests that it won’t be easy for him to make it (unless he’s the kind of low-key person who chooses as his “biggest goal” something you can nearly take for granted!).

  6. INRNG didn’t mention but there was some great teamwork by Katusha yesterday. When Zakarin had his mechanical, I thought it was all over for him but his team did a great job to get him back in the pack.

    • But he rather wasted it by getting caught out by a split in the peloton. I would have thought that, if you put all that effort in, you would make very sure you pushed your way to the front along with all the other main contenders

      • You need to get back up but easier said than done, rejoining the bunch with 2.5km to go means you’ve just done a 60km/h pursuit… and then need to start overtaking the bunch during the final 2km at an even faster speed to overtake others who ease up, it’s a lot of ground to recover.

        • Very true but professional sport is unforgiving, what would Chris Froome or Alberto Contador done in the same situation? I suspect they would not have got caught out. It is these sort of tiny differences that make one person a champion the other a “could have been”

          • They would also lose time. That’s what innerRing tried to tell you. Iif you catch the end of the peloton just at 3km, it’s stretched out wide, and passing this high speed train ito reach the front group is a quite difficult job. Even Froome can’t just ride with 70km/h while the rest is going with 60km/h through narrow roads an corners.

  7. How come there is no Diego Ulissi this year? He’s usually a good shout for a couple of stages every year! Without him, Brambilla, Trentin and Moser I’m worried the intermediate stages won’t be as good!

    • Ulissi decided to go stage hunting at the Tour since Rui Costa – which is virtually the same kind of rider – came to cover Ulissi’s usual role at the Giro (stages with one eye on GC if the stars align).

      Good for both athletes, I think: they had plenty of experience and success in one GT (6 stage wins for Ulissi in 5 Giros, 3 stages for Rui Costa in 8 TdFs) while they had literally *none* in the other.

      Brambilla and Trentin had a long and exhausting Spring: Trentin had a full cobble season, where he was especially committed, Brambilla had a disappointing classics season with some health issues and hopes to be back in form for the TdF, too.

      Moser’s case is more of a personal crisis, his relation with cycling has constantly been one of ups and downs. He always, always struggles to find form and motivation.

      You’re rightly worried, the guys provided some memorable stages last year, and that sector (stage hunting) is one of the few in which Italian’s cycling, in general, looks not to be struggling, precisely thanks to them (and some others).

      I still hope that the few teams which didn’t come with strong GC ambition will make for the Italians’ absence: DD brought good international stage hunters, Cannondale has got a pack of supposed quality attackers, Astana will be motivated, too, UAE Emirates have got Valerio Conti (and Mohoric and Polanc… and the youngster Ravansi and Petilli) who might be interesting, besides Rui Costa, and then the wildcard teams, obviously.

      Truth is that I’ve rarely seen a GT with so many WT teams going hard for the GC: besides Astana – which has got special reasons – , only Bora, Cannondale, Lotto Soudal and DD, all of them arguably among the weakest WT teams, didn’t bring a strong and convinced GC leader; Quickstep with Jungels and UAE with Rui Costa will depend on how their captains will fare during the first half of the race.

      • We’ve seen Jungels in the Giro before. If he were as good a climber as Kruijswijk, and he isn’t, then it would be more interesting.

        • I don’t think you’d actually like that. You seem to want races to precisely conform to ‘who you have decided is best’ wins.

          • “Who is best” and stays upright always wins. I’m happy with that. Sport is about not knowing, possibilities and opportunities.

          • But Nibali didn’t win against Froome in the 2014 TDF…

            Hope your dream comes true and Quintana ends the contest on Etna.

  8. I think that he announced today that he won’t be contenting for the GC. He spent so much energy in the final few kilometers leading out FG and that seemingly will come back to haunt him later on. This Giro is going to be very long and every bit of energy saved is going to be vital. We will however, have to wait and see.

    • Leading out Gaviria or pushing the group along to maximise his time gain? I’d imagine in the same situation Thomas or Dumoulin would’ve done exactly the same. He looked incredibly strong, able to go down the outside of the group on the windy side and a couple of times pulling away and turning to see nobody was on his wheel. I’ll admit he’s a long shot for the overall but a podium could be on considering he was 6th last year. Then it just needs snow to disrupt the final week..!

      • Thomas looked to be a missed Greipel gearshift away from (both of them) making it across to Quick Step.
        I wonder if he’ll see that as an opportunity lost, to put a little time in to the other GC?

    • +1. And also pretty incredible that everyone knew what Quick Step would try to do when the bunch hit the crosswind and pretty much when it would happen, yet they still couldn’t be stopped from forming that first echelon.

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