Giro d’Italia Stage 6 Preview

A spicy finish with hills and hairpins lend this stage an air of Milan-Sanremo but the final two kilometres are all uphill so even if there’s a sprint we’ll see some different names in the mix.

Stage 5 Wrap: sprint win for Fernando Gaviria. The race did a lap of Messina and as they approached the finish line with a lap to go Luka Pibernik clipped away and did a victory salute. He didn’t know there was a lap to go, apparently the battery in his radio had gone according to Nibali who chuckled on RAI at the event… but he could have checked the roadbook or even a preview online before. Pibernik’s gaff was funny but look closely and it seemed that Caleb Ewan also launched his sprint for a brief moment until a team mate warned him off, perhaps a more tragic error? As the real finish loomed several riders including Ewan were out of place and Gaviria was delivered into place by his team to win ahead of a fast-finishing Jakub Mareczko, the Italian with the Polish name.

The Route: 217km north along the coast. The first climb to Barriterri is steady at 11km at 4% but a good launchpad for the breakaway.

The Finish: a technical finish with climbing and cornering. With 7km to go they turn away from the coast on a sharp bend that doubles back and climb uphill on a medium to narrow-sized road that twists up to Acquapesa and then takes a balcony road that’s reminiscent of the section across the top of the Cipressa. They descent via a series of hairpin bends that will offer great views of the peloton snaking down the ramparts and a hard place for any riders to make up lost ground. It’s back to the coastal road taking the other direction they came on and then a sharp turn at the 2km to go point. From here it’s up to the finish line and after a gentle slope it pitches up towards 8% for the final kilometre, all on a wide and straight road.

The Contenders: it’s only a short uphill finish but it shouldn’t take much to see the big names test themselves, similar to the Mûr-de-Bretagne stage finishes in the Tour de France, especially because if there’s a split in the field nobody can afford to be caught on the wrong side. There’s a good chance a breakaway sticks because plenty of riders are now a long way down on GC after Etna so they won’t threaten Bob Jungels’ maglia rosa.

If it’s a breakaway it’s a lottery to know who stays away but lowly riders on GC with a good profile for the uphill sprint include the likes of Matteo Montaguti and Ben Gastauer (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Omar Fraile (Dimension Data). One leftfield pick is Vincenzo Albanese (Bardiani-CSF) who was winning these kind of finishes all the time in the U23 ranks last year. What about Dylan Theuns of BMC Racing, he’s good for a climb like this from a breakaway but could be on team duty.

If it’s all brought together for the finish then Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) is good for a finish like this as he has plenty of uphill power and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) has been winning sprints too but he might lack a little tradecraft. Rui Costa (UAE Emirates) is a diesel who not find this selective enough but could slip away in move in the final kilometres. Otherwise Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) is punchy, the same for Andrey Amador (Movistar) and Ben Hermans (BMC Racing)

If it’s a sprint Nathan Haas (Dimension Data) is a great for a sprint like this too as long as he can restrain himself from hitting the front too soon and he tweeted yesterday he was having a hard time. Can Fernando Gaviria (Quick Step) hold on? He is more than bunch sprinter, he has some punch for this kind of climb but will need to be on just the right wheel to make it.

Geraint Thomas, Nathan Haas
Gaviria, Hermans, Dumoulin, Pinot, Battaglin, Nizzolo, Slagter

Weather: (updated 11.45 CET as yesterday’s forecast has gone with the wind) sunshine and clouds and warm with a top temperature of 23°C. The wind will blow at 25-35km/h and could gust more although it is forecast to drop during the stage. It’ll blow from the west, meaning a crosswind for much of the stage and the final 2km will be in a headwind.

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.

60 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 6 Preview”

    • Trying not to be harsh, but Ewan is an idiot then!

      Cavendish doesn’t study the fine detail of every sprint stage in the race handbook because he is bored or has nothing better to do. He does it to understand what is involved in winning, which sometimes isn’t about pure speed or power.

      But Ewan is young and I guess can be cut some slack.

    • He is young, but surely your job as a professional cyclist – especially one whose ‘territory’ comes down to a handful of opportunities each year (in GTs at least) – is to know what you’re going to face. It’s not like a climber or a Cummings-esque breakaway guy who can attack more or less anywhere they like if they’re feeling good: he has to produce in those specific moments, when the pack are already doing 60kph and everyone’s shoving each other, and doing the homework is part of the game.

      • Yes I agree that it seems like an obvious thing to do if you want to win the stage. Personally I would probably like to know as much as possible. That said, I can also get overwhelmed mentally if I think too much about things I can’t control in competitive environments.

        Let’s hope it is a lesson-learned in this case.

  1. Adam Yates might be another pick amongst GC contenders in a sprint: he was 13th yesterday in the sprint on a flat stage which suggests that he has good form and is alert to keeping out of trouble – so today might suit him more.


  2. A breakaway does seem to have a very good chance. I suspect the various GC teams would prefer any bonus seconds to be mopped up by riders who are no threat rather than potentially going to a rival. Even so there could be a split in the bunch if one or two of the contenders give it a go at the end. Adam Yates might be one to watch.

    This is the sort of stage where GC contenders have come to grief in recent years though the weather this time around seems much kinder. I wonder if it will be another slow day, minimum effort might suit everybody.

  3. It’s a shame for the race that these winds are either tail / head, in the main.
    It’s having the effect of an extremely slow burn.
    So slow, in fact, that GC is less separated than was the case last year when the flat Dutch stages produced some criticism.

    We might get the odd few seconds here and there today but you’d still expect Jungels to be in pink.
    He’ll probably keep it until Sunday, I would have thought.
    And that’s also a factor now; the Blockhaus stage is looming on the horizon.
    Is it worth going into the red for the chance of a few seconds with Sunday approaching?

    You can’t beat Mother Nature. And she’s certainly looking kindly on Movistar and Quintana this week.

  4. Ewan only seemed to make about 4 pedal strokes. I think he’s one of those guys who is talked about a lot, but is never quite going to make it to the big time. A Bouhannino, if you will.
    I think Gaviria can do this – and QS will want to hold on to pink so they’ll be working hard.

    • Well Ewan is the same age as Gavaria and has four more pro wins and more of his total wins have come at World Tour level including a stage in the 2015 Vuelta where he handily beat both Sagan and Degenkolb, so the facts go against your assertion somewhat. This is the way some people always talk about sprinters, every time they miss out they’re written off as overrated….until their next win.

      • If one considers Robbie McKewen made it “to the big time” I think Caleb Ewan will be just fine. He seems a lot like McKewen, a compact sprinter who doesn’t want(need) a big train to win. Of course Robbie was no Cipollini, Petacchi or Cavendish but he certainly earned his wages in sprint wins!

        • +1

          Interesting you bring up McEwen, Sam Bennet was just saying how in the off season he was watching old clips of McEwen to pick up sprinting tips, especially about how to surf wheels to the front without a dedicated train.

      • Gaviria’s palmares is much better – good results in many different big races.
        Other than that Vuelta stage, Ewan’s results are of a much lower standard – being a WorldTour race is not a good measure. Take away wins in Australia and what are you left with? A win in Abu Dhabi (whoopee) and the EuroEyes Cyclassic, which he only won because someone was disqualified for nudging him.
        (That someone was Bouhanni, who people are much less likely to stick up for – but then he’s not Anglo.)
        By the way, ou can see the action that caused the DQ here:
        Bouhanni moves a metre at most – anyone else wouldn’t have been DQ’d.
        What’s also apparent is that no rider other would have flown sideways across the road anywhere near as much as Ewan did.
        That might actually have won him this race, but I think it is precisely what he needs to overcome if he’s to win more.

        • Well you could also look at Gavaria’s wins in South American races, all of a much lower standard than the TDF but it’s really splitting hairs, they’re both talents, and I’m sure with experience Ewan will learn to avoid some of the mistakes he’s been making.

          Bouhanni has been discussed widely here, but you’ll find that most people don’t dislike him for not being Anglo (and Ewan is half Korean anyway so it’s kind of a moot point), they dislike him for being a jerk. His reputation as a bully invites more scrutiny from race officials (who are usually not Anglo either if a race is in Germany or even France), so he’s only got himself to blame.

          • But there are also Gaviria’s wins in Europe and good performances on the cobbles, whereas Ewan’s victories in Australia are largely against unfit opposition at the start of the season.
            Ewan’s still very young, I’m just not convinced that he’s going to toughen up enough not to let himself be bounced about.
            As much as I’m not a fan of Bouhanni, he should be judged on each incident and not on his reputation.
            (Maybe they could both learn from each other!)

          • I’m pretty sure that in the context of international cycling, “Anglo” means “from an English-speaking country” and therefore prone to be hyped by English language journalists rather than anything to do with ethnicity.

          • Gaviria spent two years preparing for the track omnium in Rio last August, where he got bronze to follow on from his rainbow sweaters, so this is the first year he’s been road racing exclusively. With that in mind, it’s rather stunning to realise that he made it to the M-SR Via Roma this year and last with the ‘peloton’, and even more so when his stage wins are viewed from the perspective he’s come to the Giro off over a month of training, no racing, so has spent these first 5 days of the race sharpening up his finish.

    • I think Ewan is probably fast enough but seems to lack race craft, and also seems to get bustled out if it very easily. You could say he’ll improve these things with experience, and he very well could, but some – Cav, Gaviria, Sagan – had it seemingly from birth.
      In terms of speed Marezcko was very impressive yesterday. It’d be good if he kicks on, the world seems a lesser place without a top Italian sprinter.

      • How much of that is due to lack of track experience? Ewan had some as a junior but collecting multiple championships in the omnium at senior level, like Gaviria, must certainly refine your race craft.

    • Looking at the tale of the tape between Ewan and Gaviria it is pretty hard to give one the edge. I think both are going win a lot of races over the next decade so this battle will rage for years to come. Two of the more talented sprinters to hit the scene in a few years.

      Throwing out lower level races in Asia and South America:
      Ewan: Vuelta x1, Tour Down Under x6 (albeit against weak competition), Cyclassic Hamburg.

      Gaviria: Giro x2, Tirreno x2, Poland x2, Paris-Tours.

      • either way, for this Giro I imagine both came with high hopes considering the smallish field of top line fast men. Gaviria has wins and jerseys and Ewan has it all to do this week as the Orica focus will increasing go towards Yates assuming he stays in the mix…

      • So, Ewan has the one Vuelta stage, 6 wins against unfit riders and a race where the jury gifted him the race.
        So, really, just the Vuelta in terms of quality results..
        And Gaviria has many good results that are not victories, but show a lot of promise. Ewan doesn’t.

  5. I can’t imagine that a sprinter is strong enough to win. It’s not only a punch finish, but also a hilly finale. A think we will see a mixture of attackers (Busato), GC guys (Yates, Thomas, don’t underestimate Mollema) and a young surprise (Albanese) in the top-10.

    Interesting to see: Thomas might want to drop Landa to become the one and only team leader after Blockhaus and the time trial. Stages like today (and Saturday) suit him better and he might go for bonus seconds today. This can influence the race of today.

  6. I wouldn’t include Nizzolo, he has struggled on each and every climb so far. Clearly lack of racing kilometres and probably not in the top shape after the injury.

    • You’re right, he’s in there so can’t remove him but reading La Gazzetta today he says he’s ill, has problems breathing to compound his lack of form following his injury comeback… so maybe he sits tight and pops out for the win 😉 Serious though it sounds harder than ever for him, he sprints but seems a much more versatile rider, his win in the Italian championships showed him climbing and descending so well.

  7. Edmondson might be a good bet?
    What about guys like Battaglin, Stuyven and Sbaragli? And Modolo?

    Is it completely unreal for Ewan to make a go of it?

      • Yeah, but really more than anything it shows that he didn’t try…

        But seing that guys like battaglin, sbaragli and gaviria found it to hard as well, it was never going to happen…

  8. Going out on a limb here, what if QS set up Bob Jungels for a stage win in the maglia rosa? If he gets away on that descend and powers to the line like he did in the echelon with Gaviria, who’s going to overtake him? He climbs well too. Especially of Gaviria is still somewhere in the pack. Anyway. I’m just thinking up scenarios to make this a bit of an exciting stage.

  9. Does anyone know if the Nibali v Quintana thing is just over excited Italian media trying to create a story when there is none or does it have any basis in reality?

    • Nibali said on TV yesterday that he and Quintana are “not friends”. He said he has plenty of respect for the Colombian but he’s not going out training with him as he might with Fabio Aru. I think with the Astana man’s scratch from the race depriving the Italian press of the dream Coppi vs Bartali or Moser vs Saronni polemics they’re trying to gin up a nasty rivalry between these two instead….and not having much luck with it.

    • Gazzetta BS (you might remember some famous example from the past), plus RAI’s desperate thirst for making up those peculiar aspects of cycling which normally should arise by themselves, spontaneously (rivalries, nicknames and so on – they tried to impose an absurd nickname to Gaviria who outright refused it).
      Nibali directly denied it on TV a couple of days ago: “no issues with Quintana, we’ve got a racing rivalry, the rest you might have read is totally ‘made in Gazzetta dello Sport’, it’s a creation of Claudio Ghisalberti”.
      I think that he was asked if he talks with Quintana during the race and he said “no” (I’d wonder what language might they speak), then the Gazzetta built on that the idea “they don’t speak to each other, somehing nasty is going on”.
      Just as Larry says, they’re not friend like riders sometimes may become, and they don’t have the sort of plastic flavoured “PR friendship” we apparently saw between A. Schleck and Contador (and luckily so, may I add).
      Nothing else belongs to the reality which lives on outside of the Gazzetta pages, at least as long as we are allowed to know.
      A good polemica emerges by itself, it shouldn’t be made up.

  10. Luka Pibernik is a young (23 yrs) rider who many not find it as easy to take it all in his stride as FDJ’s Jussi Veikkanen did after finishing sixth in the 17th stage of the 2014 Giro. Veikkanen who didn’t know there was a five-man breakway ahead of the group he sprinted from tweeted: “Shiiit happens! #clownoftheday”

    Pibernik should perhaps think that he is now in illustrious company of riders who have forgotten there was a final lap or who have miscounted the laps – and he could do worse than reading the inrng previews before the day’s stage!

    PS A famous miscalculation of laps and a premature victory celebration took place in the road in the Rome Olympics. Viktor Kapitonov (Soviet Union) and Livio Trapè (Italy) had left the peloton clear behind in a two-man breakaway, Kapitonov sprinted and thought he’d won but there was still one 14 km lap to go. Trapé took off, Kapitonov chased him down and won the sprint by less than half a wheel. (Kapitonov later became a legendary head coach for the national team, Trapè had an unremarkables six-year career as a pro.)

    PPS Apropos Soviet road cycling, for anyone interested or fond of good reading I can recommend Nikolai Razouvaev’s continuing “Memoir of a Soviet Cyclist”

    • This type of comment is one of the reasons I got hooked on inrng some six years ago; the additional information, intriguing facts and discussions going above and beyond just the racing at hand. That and the superb content inrng pushes out (superb being an understatement).

  11. After looking profile and some streetview spying,
    I got one name: Diego Ulissi, BUT
    then I found that he is not in giro…

    Dylan Theuns rings bell (he was 3. in Huy).
    Also Battaglin and Dumoulin.

  12. Six stages so far: one absolutely unforeseeable finish and a delightful first GT victory, one thrilling solo victory from a breakway, one sprint victory for the old guy, two sprint victories for the new guy and a perhaps quite expected victory for the breakaway but not necessary for the rider who got his first GT victory.
    I’m quite satisfied with the first week of the Giro – even if the racing has not given us any fireworks yet, but then we probably never assumed it would.

    • I’m not as satisfied, but, just as I gave a chance to last Tour until it became clear that we were well into the race and nothing intersting had happened (or was going to happen), I deem it fair to wait for some more stages.
      However, I reckon that you can’t have a 2009, 2010, 2013, 2015 or 2016 Giro every year!, until now this edition is flowing along the lines of 2008, 2011 or 2014 (probably slightly better than the latter two at stage six) and clearly better than 2012.
      I still prefer it to last year’s Tour, or most TdFs of the last decades, but if we focus on the last five or six years we might notice that the Tour (copying the Giro, eh eh eh!) started to offer a way more entertaining first week, often even better than what *this* Giro is producing until now.
      The Giro has raised the bar and I’d like to see it keeping to its own standards.

  13. A true polemica might be if Rosa, too, should have been thrown out of the race. A journalist wrote an article retwitted by Nibali et al., but apparently it’s too complicated for the mainstream media to ask for an Italian rider to be kicked out.

    • Ah, have now seen. Not quite the extent of Moreno’s actions. If he was expelled from the race for that you’d end up with an awful lot of riders getting chucked out.

      • I’m not saying Rosa should be kicked out, but that was a sort of polemica you could have fostered to feed the debate, arising from the race itself and the riders’ twitts – I mean, better than the Nibali-Quintana fantasy grudge 😉
        After all, touching (not pushing) was enough to DSQ Movistar from the Catlunya TTT…
        Note: I don’t mean to start a discussion, and personally I prefer Rosa in the race, it’s just an example of how you could set things.

  14. *OT*
    I’ve just been shocked by a deeper look at the ITT. It’s not “hilly” at all.
    SDS played a cruel joke on the climbers drawing the profile: the two “hills” are long drags that don’t even average 2.5% (8.7 kms at 2.4% and 5.8 kms at 2.2%).
    The first one just includes three separate and very short sectors (less than 400 m. each) in which the gradient rises at around 6-7%… as the hardest moments – bot the riders will tackle each of them always coming from about one-km-long downward false flats. I wouldn’t need to drop to the inner ring ^__^, imagine the riders… That final stretch up to San Marco which looks like a little ramp, well, on Street View you wouldn’t even notice it goes up.
    The second and final “climb” barely and shortly reaches a 4% gradient in a couple of occasions, it’s steadily 2%. The kind of thing that ends up in a bunch sprint, Kittel included.
    It looks the kind of terrain where a climber gets slaughtered, I’ dare to say that it might be even worse than a normal “flat” ITT. It’s all about putting down a whole lot of watts. I don’t have time to look into the possible physics behind this idea (probably something about air resistance at lower speeds and a not very significant impact of power/weight ratio), it’s more about experience.
    And, hey, 40 kms isn’t short (39.8! Ah ah ah ah, tricky RCS guys).
    The only good news for the climbers is that there are some bends to break the pace. And the landscape is great, beautiful little scenic roads – but that’s for the spectators.
    It’s going to hurt. And they weren’t well-intentioned at all when they drew that profile, I’d bet that they knew that it was very deceiving.

    • Good stuff – thanks. Should mean that Quintana and other climbers have to attack.
      In what looks to be a less than inspiring parcours, this could be a big upside.

  15. Just watching highlights of today’s stage can anyone explain why Cannondale were on the front hammering it?

    They’ve gone quite a while without a vixtory so that move just made no sense to me or was it simply a case of getting on front for some exposure?

    • Well Woods did ‘win’ the bunch sprint so they were right to feel confident. Unfortunately for them they (and others) let the break initially get nearly 9 minutes and that’s where it was lost. If they’d taken the chase up about 10 minutes earlier than they did then they could have had that illusive win.

    • Cannondale is leading the team classification since stage 3 and they just want to keep it that way.
      I know lot of you say you don’t care about this classification at all, but the teams do.

  16. Thanks for clarifying. As highlights didn’t make it clear but it appeared to me that it fruitless task but I guess team classification is important considering their win drought

  17. For a man who apparently doesn’t read the road book, Ewan got that spot on tactically – Gaviria had to come from a mile back. (I think Ewan owes me debt of gratitude – the moment I shot my mouth off about him he was bound to win.)
    More finishes like that – much more exciting than a long straight – perhaps fewer long flat stages like that, though (but Dunkerque was good).

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