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.
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.
|Caleb Ewan, Fernando Gaviria
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 cyclingfans.com and steephill.tv are the go-to sites for schedules and pirata feeds.