Giro Stage 6 Preview

The first summit finish of the Giro and the climb to the observatory atop Mount Etna will give us the first glimpse of the stars challenging for the maglia rosa.

Enrico Battaglin

Stage 5 review: a break formed right from the start without a fight and usually this means everyone expects the move to come back again, like prisoners out on day release. This time the headwind condemned the move. The inevitable bunch sprint drew in with similar conditions to the previous day, a nervous finish that saw the bunch reduced by the time it reached the foot of the climb into Santa Ninfa and this time with the flatter finish to help Enrico Battaglin won, as predicted. Sometimes Battaglin looks out of place on the Dutch Lotto-Jumbo team but he’s the perfect signing, able to win in the Giro which is just what they and their (Swedish-owned) Italian bike sponsor Bianchi crave. Is he related to Giovanni Battaglin, the 1981 Vuelta and Giro winner (when the races were days apart) and framebuilder? I recall reading he’s a distant cousin and L’Equipe says so again but if he is it’s distant like Kevin Bacon. Miguel Angel Lopez lost time after a late crash, he’s still 24 so holding position every day is still a skill to acquire.

The Route: 164km and all about the final big climb. After the downhill start it climbs to the first TV traguardo volante “flying sprint” in Enna, a steady haul up a 4-5% road and good launchpad for a breakaway. The route loops around Piazza Armerina, a scenic detour and then makes a beeline for Etna.

The roadbook says the official climb starts in Ragalna but in reality the road starts rising from Ponte Barca some 20km before of which the final five kilometres are real climbing, the slope bites. In other words the 15km climb is really a 20km climb, perhaps it is too early in the Giro to admit this?

The Finish: 15km at an average of 6.5%. If you watched last year’s stage they climb Etna again but via a different route, that was via the Salto del Cane, this is to the west and may be unfamiliar to some in the peloton who have spent time training on the slopes as it’s arguably the fourth way up, the backroad version. The graphic above has warnings of 15% and 14% gradients but otherwise this is quite a steady climb, freshly surfaced for the race and it’s defined by the length and the long straight exposed sections. Like other roads up volcanoes this is has a brutal, direct feel to it, there’s little Alpine charm to it, the exposed lava feels like nature’s building site. The key point is with 5km to go, the gradient gets steep and stays so enough for the real climbers to be at an advantage for the next 4km. Things ease at the finish, the final kilometre is 2.5% before rising to 5% to the finish line.

Simon Yates

The Contenders: what chance a breakaway? Last year Jan Polanc (UAE Emirates) held on from the breakaway for the stage win and he could do the same again. This isn’t to confess any insight into his form, just that he is an example of a climber unlikely to upset the big contenders who could be given room to go up the road, even if he is only two minutes down on GC meaning his team mate John Atapuma has more space. Otherwise scan the GC for climbers who have lost time already like Joe Dombrowski (EF Education First-Drapac), Rodolfo Torres (Androni) or Ruben Plaza (Israel Academy) but these are suggestions more than picks.

Among the big candidates we’ll know a lot more this evening, today’s climb is still a test effort for many. So far Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) hasn’t put a foot wrong, he’s started well in the time trial and has been fighting for stages ever since, he’s got a strong team in support and Esteban Chaves is another to watch too.

Domenico Pozzovivo is having a great Giro. He’s done this before, his problem is that for all his promise on the climbs it’s rare for him to win and he’ll slip down on GC in a pan flat time trial like the one that awaits in the Adige valley. So here’s a shot at the stage win.

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) was fourth on Etna last year and seems in marginally better form now. Michael Woods (EF Education First-Drapac) is another pick, this will be a test to see if he can turn his punchy promise in recent days, be it in Liège or Caltagirone, into a result in a longer climb.

Plenty say the likes of Chris Froome (Team Sky), Fabio Aru (UAE-Emirates) and Miguel-Angel Lopez (Astana) need to take back time and so have to attack. They’re right but if these riders and others haven’t had a good start to the race they can’t simply stand up on the pedals and dance away, they’ll have their doubts and could lack confidence already, to try a move and to get reeled in would be bad. To attack, get reeled in and then dropped would be disastrous. So expect several climbers needing to attack to bide their time, simply not losing time would be a relief for several riders.

One dark horse is José Gonçalves (Katusha-Alpecin) who is riding surprisingly well so far and had a good Tour de Romandie and if he attacks it’s not like he’s a rider everyone is under orders to close down.

Simon Yates
Thibaut Pinot, Domenico Pozzovivo
Woods, Gonçalves, Chaves, Aru, Lopez

Weather: some sunshine and clouds, a top temperature of 19°C mid-stage and much cooler at the “summit” with a good chance of rain but the forecast so no wind today.

TV: Host broadcaster RAI offers the best coverage, Eurosport has the rights for many countries across Europe and Australia and it’s streamed via Fubo in the US and Dazn in Japan. They reach Ragalna and the start of the climb at 4.25pm CEST and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm.

70 thoughts on “Giro Stage 6 Preview”

    • I’d read before they were very distant cousins but can’t find a source to back this up now… so maybe there’s no link at all. As Morten says below Battaglin is a typical name of the Veneto area where they’re both from.

  1. Excited to see if the headwind at the end gives Wellens a chance to stay with the contenders and have a go at the stage win from a reduced sprint…

  2. Enrico is not related to Giovanni. They come from the same town, but Battaglin is a very common name in that area of Italy.

  3. Surprised you’re leaving out Dumoulin. Seems in good shape and this steady, no too high gradient seems to suit him. That said, I have my money on Yates for today.

      • Dumoulin could be an excellent pick, I agree, but surely not because the climb is “similar to Oropa” (?!): the last 5 kms someway are, but that’s all Oropa’s got, here we’ve got 10km at 6% preceding them (from Ragalna), and some more 700 m of altitude gain right before that… Surely, they can be ridden in a way they end up meaning nothing, but it’s just a different beast from Oropa. The whole Oropa stage barely reached 1000 m of total altitude gain, here that’s just the very final part of the climb: it’s over 1700 just in the final 40 kms…

    • He should be close but the finish picks up to the line, not sure I can see him winning ahead of Yates, Pinot etc? I also wonder what he does about the maglia rosa, he gladly unloaded it to Dennis, does he really want it already? Obviously having time on your rivals is a plus but having the costs of leading the race for just the benefit of a handful of seconds can be awkward too.

  4. Not sure this is going to a breakaway. It is early for any decisive GC showdown but there are some who need the time.

    Chris Froome looked off the pace again yesterday, he didnt loose any time but was hardly at the front of the bunch, perhaps he was conserving energy. It would seem very likely that we shall see Sky trying to control things. However the others will see weakness and will try to exploit this, one thing CF simply cannot afford is to loose more time.

    A good number of others appear to be in good nick. Tom Dumoulin seems to be back where he was last year, he doesnt need to win here but if he did it would be a big statement. Simon Yates has been impressive as has Domenico Pozzovivo, who needs time on these sort of stages to make up for the time he will loose come the time trial. Thibaut Pinot? perhaps, he has flattered to deceive too many times but it is early in the race before the pressure ramps up so maybe today is his day. Like Inrng I think Fabio Aru and Miguel Angel Lopez are lacking in confidence, they could slip out of contention today.

    An interesting side event is whether Rohan Dennis can hang on to Pink, I suspect Tom Dumoulin will be back in the lead this evening even if he doesnt win the stage.

    • What was worrying about Froome is that it was two in a row: of course, he’s got a good excuse for every single episode (bad positioning for Tuesday, then a wise tactical choice to save energies yesterday), and a general excuse in the Jerusalem crash. Yet, the image of his teammates trying to lead him up front and being suddenly struck by the famous illness of “Schleck neck”, desperately looking back to find their captain while he sank down through the group, didn’t exactly suggest a well-pondered decision. We’re now used enough to metamorphic Froome not to be surprised by any result today: however, it would be a considerable jump in form. Anyway, I think, as others said, that he might come back strongly later in the race, despite his common third-week woes. In that case, several rivals will repent they didn’t take advantage of the terrain we just left behind, probably the most Giresque available in this Giro and the hardest to digest for Team Sky.

      • “We’re now used enough to metamorphic Froome not to be surprised by any result today: however, it would be a considerable jump in form.”

        Much you say is sensible Gabriele but this is not. Form? Froome was recently in the Tour of the Alps and was basically in the lead group on every climb. In that race he performed much as at the Dauphine last year being thereabouts but not dancing away as on other occasions we could mention. So far this race hasn’t been his best but I struggle to imagine how he could have done much better. Stage 4’s finish was ripe for someone to lose a few seconds and fate determined it was him (but not just him). But is 21 seconds a disaster? He lost 22 on stage 12 of the Tour last year up the steep airport ramp and his demise was predicted thereafter as well. On stage 1 he lost just over half a minute but he was never going to win such a short, punchy ITT and his result was in line with the similar distance test at Tirreno a couple of months ago. Froome has stated in interviews at this race that he is not here to win in the time trials which suggests he is here to win in the climbs. Today, Gran Sasso and Zoncolan are Froome’s immediate tests of “form” rather than what we’ve seen so far. As you already know, I’ve not said he will win the Giro and a stage like today’s will let me know if I’m on the right track or not. The climb has a hint of the Ventoux about it so I expect Lopez and, perhaps, Froome to fly. I find it at least strange that Aru deserves a chain ring but a 5 time grand tour winner and the defending champion of the Giro do not.

        • Oh, come one! He was by little yet clearly *behind* the best on the climbs at the Tour of the Alps (remember that last stage?) and the best were named Pozzovivo and Pinot and López, which means that on equal form Froome should be considerably faster, don’t you think so? Or those guys are suddenly on the same level of the greatest GT rider of the last gener… I mean, three years?
          I agree with you that he might be willingly low on form – it looks a wise decision, even – but being in the lead group in Trentino is something which might imply good own form for Pozzovivo, not for Froome, given the company.
          And if the guy is in great form, he should not be losing the wheels on a 1 km 8% climb. No way. He’s always had big performance swags from time to time, but from stage to stage?
          The ITT, to start with, should *relatively* suit him more than Dennis for being punchy, but, anyway since you name Tirreno, this time he lost +75% seconds (20″ became 35″ in less than 10 kms).
          In the last 2-3 years (please don’t make me check on PCS ^__^), I remember him performing that bad in any sort of ITT only at Romandie, when he was far from form beyond any possible debate. Apart form that, the most obvious example is the 2015 TdF prologue, but on Huy he didn’t look that bad, did he? Nor on Mûr de Bretagne (not to speak of the crosswinds stage).
          As I said, what surprises me more is that his teammates looked liked they didn’t expect it. But it could be a Lance-like theatre.

          However, let me insist: I wouldn’t be shocked by a sudden growth in form; it wouldn’t be the first time that Froome comes back strong after being struggling. My opinion about him wouldn’t change. But it would be just that – a Los-Machucos-to-Santo-Toribio effect.
          And, let’s be frank, the stage and the climb suit him and his racing style, which means that a relative improvement in performances is more than possible. The problem is that the level he needs to jump up from is rather poor.

          Obviously, all the above doesn’t change much my views about his winning chances, which stays high also with the more realistic option of a later and gradual surge of form, which would be totally sensible.

          • Froome finished 4th, a handful of seconds back all entirely due to bonus seconds in a race with time trial. That’s stand Froome in the last couple of years. Oh, did I add he’s trying to win the Giro and the Tour back to back? One wonders what you were expecting or if you learnt anything from watching him in 2017. I’m not saying he’s in “great form”. He’s clearly not in the form of Pinot but given his aims why would he be? If Froome does anything here I think it much more likely to be week 3 than week 1. And that surely makes sense?

          • Oh, but I agree with this your last version, as you can read in my post above, by the way! ^__^

            Let’s remember that you were not agreeing with this sentence of mine:
            “We’re now used enough to metamorphic Froome not to be surprised by any result today: however, it would be a considerable jump in form.”

            I believe that it’s perfectly sensible not to be on top form at the start of a GT, or in a prep race. But if Froome goes from mediocre (at best) form in the first stages to a great showing today, well, it would be a jump in form.
            Whatever the reasons for him not being at his best now.
            And even less so at the TotA: I’m not a Froome’s fan but I wouldn’t say that being beat every time the road goes up by Pozzovivo or Pinot is his usual stand of the last couple of years. Just Imagine if Bardet or Quintana were there in Trentino, with a condition proportional to Pozzovivo’s…
            If the time difference was so reduced it was because there were no TTs, true, but there were also very few uphill finishes (one… and a half?) and he tended to come back using downhill sections and group chase where the rest was rather collaborative (even if he himself hit the front sometimes, sure). His inferiority uphill was consistently evident.
            Nothing strange, in fact that’s a sensible prep strategy (it was stranger to peak for the Romandie or the Dauphiné, indeed, as they did some seasons ago), but don’t tell me that it was Froome’s level of the last couple of years. He’d have lost last Vuelta well before the doping trial with that sort of climbing skills – I can crush some figures if you please.

            But since we finally agree, I won’t go on with this any longer 😉

      • What is missing is the Chris Froome who imposes his will on the Peloton, pushing others aside to ensure he is in exactly the right place. To pull that off you need to be able to intimidate the other riders into giving way simply by your presence (not that anyone would ever acknowledge this). Andy Schleck simply never had that. Tom Dumoulin was doing something similar by the end of race last year and it reappeared in the opening stage here. At their best Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali have it too. Once that mystique goes it is very difficult to get back. If by some miracle he rides away from the bunch today all will be back to “normal” otherwise the pressure will grow day by day. I just cant see it all being rescued by a storming ride up the Zoncolan.

        • There must be a fair few clean riders who decide not to let him through.
          The big pressure on Froome is that if he does badly this season people will draw their own conclusions.

          • And yet The Cycling Podcast last night floated a rumour from a Dutch De Telegraaf reporter with supposed UCI sources that Froome was soon to be declared innocent. Speculations abound.

          • If he’s declared innocent, a lot of people still won’t accept that – he’s twice the limit and many are just not going to swallow it.

          • Only an obsessed Froome supporter pays mind to the stories Froome and Sky relate to explain this extreme reading. They embarrass themselves.

          • @Anonymous
            I read somewhere that further tests led to it being reduced from 2000 nl/ml to 1400 ish. .. getting near legal values (if true).

          • Yes, AP (anonymous was me), there is talk of that (although I’ve read no confirmation). That’s taking into account dehydration and 1,429nl/ml is still considerably above the already high threshold of 1,000nl/ml. So, that would appear to blow any dehydration theory out of the water.

            And we’re already hearing about a study that supported Froome’s case. As every scientist knows, one study is not statistically significant. It needs to be backed up my many other studies. And this is presumably not the only study that WADA has looked at when establishing its levels. A single study often finds bizarre results – there was a study a few years back that found that one cigarette a day was as dangerous as 10 or 20 a day. Clearly drivel.

            ‘The study was performed by researchers at the Centre for Human Drug Research in Leiden, the Netherlands, and led by Jules Heuberger, who last year published a study on the effects of EPO, concluding that it did not improve performance.’

            I suspect we’ll hear quite a bit more of this sort of thing, but many won’t entirely take leave of their critical faculties and simply believe what those in charge tell them to believe. (As happened with so many dopers previously.)

          • The only thing I know is that those who rule on the Froome case will have many more facts at their disposal than mouthpieces on forums. There are people all over saying “he was twice the legal limit” seemingly without being aware that that fact, by itself, means nothing. Its not a banned substance and so the reading is open to a legitimate explanation – if one can be provided. Who knows if Froome can do that and who cares if Mr Anon on a forum will accept it or not? You have to wonder about the ego of people who think they know more about a case than the people involved in it. They act as if they are all-knowing.

          • ‘Hop Hop’, I’ll spare you the full list of names of those who have been found not guilty of doping in the most ridiculous of circumstances, but you could start with Van Avermaet, Impey and Schelck, and then continue for a very long time.
            Critical thinking – and even cynicism – has nothing to do with ego.
            We do know that ‘those who rule on the Froome case will have many more facts at their disposal than mouthpieces on forums’, but what we can’t blindly trust (due to looking at history) is that they will act without bias.

          • The trial of Chris Froome via blog comments isn’t going to get anywhere apart from costing bandwidth. Back to today’s actual racing please.

            PS as I understand it via the grapevine Froome’s case is set to last longer, it’s unlikely to be resolved this week.

        • Dumoulin did it last year on Blockhaus – toughest climb of the race (only surpased in all Italy by Finestre) early in the race.
          After Blockhouse it was game over. Quitana saw his early gap beeing minimized significantly at the end. Pinot was realled in on the finish line. Nibali was distanced – on the very day when everyone needed to distance Domoulin by a significant margin.

  5. I very much expect a procession with little or no attacking by the GC favourites until the very final kms. Sorry to be do tedious, but early in a GT riders rarely attack – everyone’s too scared to lose time. Plus, it’s not a challenging enough parcours.

  6. No one has said who they expect to be wearing the Maglia Rosa tonight?
    Inner Ring *suggests* Yates may be and, of course, there are the time bonuses to take in to account.
    Aru is bound to play silly beggars and upset the tempo, Astana could join in (I almost said join the party 🙂 ) so I wonder if Sunweb will look to mark with Oomen or Ten Dam perhaps or whether they will shepherd Dumoulin up at this own pace?

    Anyway, a single effort, ridden behind a colleague, and I’ll go Dumoulin in pink later.
    C’mon the TT’ers.

  7. Looking for a climber with good legs and a sizeable GC deficit? Let me throw Ben Hermans in the group. His stated aim is to win a mountain stage in this Giro, I think he’ll try to grab this first opportunity.

  8. I fancy Pozzovivo today. He seems in good form but I don’t think even his mum thinks he’s got a chance of winning overall. So if he can capitalise on his good recent form and grab the stage and a spell in pink that would probably be the highlight of his career. Has he been in pink before? Go Domenico!

    • It’s a pity Pozzovivo got a bad case of ‘Sagan-neck’ whenever he ended up on the front. Not that he would’ve been able to go withYates.

  9. Froome is definitely riding his way into form, he looks a bit off at this stage but I think the plan is to not lose too much time in the early stages, race his way too form and win the Giro in week three, if he was peaking in week one it is a long time to hold that form till the end of Le Tour.

      • Not convinced by that argument. Last year TD at least held his own in the mountains. He did have one slightly off day when he lost the jersey into Piancavallo but held his own the next day into Asiago (a harder stage a bit like the one this time round into Cervina). Are his rivals here really as good climbers as Nairo Quintana? If Chris Froome really is holding back for the final week it would still leave him a lot to get back, you have to assume TD will gain time even on CF in the TT.

        • Last year’s 3rd week mountain stages were way easier (and Dumoulin might have lost that Giro anyway without the generous help by Jungels).
          If he was on that very same level of performances in that last couple of stages we now have, he’d lose much more than the minute and a half he left on the ground last year (and he lost one minute on the Stelvio, too, even excluding the pit stop time loss – not to Pinot, but to Zakarin and Pozzovivo, not just to Nibali or Quintana).
          It’s true that, Froome aside, his rivals’ level looks lower. But Pinot wasn’t that far back in 2017, either.
          All the same, I believe (with no serious reason, admittedly) that Dumoulin might have made a step up. The course has been known for months, I don’t think he just didn’t care.
          If he hasn’t done that step, he might lose this – provided that his rivals keep their usual level, too, of course.

          • I agree, and expect, that Dumoulin’s improvement in the mountains continues at this Giro.
            I’m really favouring him for the full win, there’s no way that Froome will have expected to be almost a minute down on the Dutchman already and I would not be surprised to see Froome lose a similar amount of time to him at stage 16’s TT.
            So the question is whether you think Dumoulin will cede circa 2′ or more to his rivals in the mountains?

          • Last year the final week had 4 mountain stages, this year 2. One of the stages last year was the Stelvio stage, nothing really comparable this year, the Finestre one is a lot lower (the stage last year had two passes over 2500m) even if it has gravel. Last year there were 3 consecutive mountain stages before the final TT. Always difficult to compare editions but dont think the last week of this one is harder than the last couple of editions. Overall the total amount of climbing might be higher but I would have thought the spread out effort would suit a rider such as TD (or Rohan Dennis if he can sustain his performances) rather than the more specialised climbers.

            We shall see in a couple of hours but I do think TD is the man again, he was prepared to put in the extra effort to grab the jersey in the opening stage, it is going to take a really top performance by another rider or bad luck to dislodge him.

          • Is Dumoulin going to have a perfect, trouble-free Giro? I find it hard to think so. His bad luck is coming and then we’ll see how deep he can go.

          • @jc
            You should notice that a lot depends on how the “mountain stage” is designed. If you have barely any climb in the last many, many kms (I posted the data here so many times that I won’t do the maths again), that’s an easier defense than having, say, three consecutive climbs. However, this year’s edition is under par like the last one, no doubt – but last year the second week was a real shame, and nevertheless Dumoulin suffered on every single mountain stage of the last week. Yet, as I said, I consider that he might have become a better rider, especially taking the course into account.

  10. Let’s chill on Froome –

    Think Dumoulin will win this Giro easily but excited to see how Yates, Lopez and others go.

    Don’t really see the point on chatting Froome doping, most here have made up their mind, J.Evans is suddenly a doctor there telling us the Sabu’ levels are already high, and ref’ing the Murdoch owned Times – turning this into a Brietbart comments section.

    I just think the guy’s case was meant to be private but got leaked so unfair to ask it to be sped up. Plus, yes his form hasn’t seemed like the 2015 Froome, and it’s been that way for a while especially recently, so I expect he possibly will struggle today after the crash. Whether it’s the crash, form or aging, who can say, as he’s gone for the double last year and this, so it’s impossible to know whether we’ve seen the last of his climbing prowess. Best to just leave and move on.

    I’m still pretty stunned by Pozzo’ TT – does he have any history in decent prologues?
    Can wait to see whether Yates has his climbing legs bolted on.
    I’ve wanted Pinot to win big for a long time, but feel like he’s running out of time.
    Dumoulin is just amazing, seems destined to rule unless this Bernal fella is as good as he looks currently.
    Really want to see how far Lopez and Woods can go also, be brill for Drapac to win something – felt sorry for them the last few years, so awesome if they can build on Uran’s last TDF.

    Today’s where it get’s exciting!

    • Agree with most of what you said, especially the very last sentence, although you might notice that what J Evans says is mostly common sense (at his best).
      One could also observe that you stress his reference to Times’ property – indeed not a damning issue as such, as long as the content of the piece are reliable – but, curiously, you decided not to quote what J Evans wrote about the peculiar POV of that academic article’s authors, or about the fact that “scientific facts” usually depend on middle to long term consensus built through a great number of studies – *one* article means quite little.

      *And* Froome’s case has reportedly been passed over to the UCI antidoping court, now, which means that perhaps – things as they are currently – it would not have remained secret, even according to the rules. I just don’t know, but it’s an interesting point. Now it’s a “potential antidoping violation” a bit more similar to the rest of them, given that the “Skyxplain” phase apparently didn’t work.

      However, Froome’s performance today looks quite along the lines of what could be expected in the most *normal* framework, which is great news: not a golden age Froome, but a timid growth on a favourable terrain, probably aiming at a better condition later in the race when it will matter the most. It looks like RonDe and I can agree, for once! And, as DAVE says, leave and move on. Grat, great news.

      Pozzovivo has a solid past of decent though quite scattered top ITT performances. His best ever was the 2013 Vuelta ITT podium, on a hilly terrain which, nonetheless, saw Cancellara and T. Martin grabbing the top spots, that is, not at all an uphill TT of sort (I’m obviously not including uphill ITTs here). He later confirmed that also in the rolling Barolo ITT at the 2014 Giro, and again at the tour de Suisse on similar terrain when only T. Martin, Dumoulin, Dennis and Cancellara could beat him. That wasn’t unprecedented at all, anyway, since he had already recorded great performances against a top field in 2011, when he still was on a Pro Conti team with little to no attention for ITTs (flat and short 11-13 kms ITTs in Castilla y León or in Trentino, when he limited his losses to 20-30″ to top specialists like Dowsett, Malori, Contador “2011 edition”, Klöden… in Spain he performed just like Froomey, who d’have thought what was going to happen a few months later?).
      2015 and 2016 were bad years: news have emerged about a careless approach by the team, not supporting his ITT training and, allegedly, the bike provider even stopped offering his ITT bike size. I don’t really know, I tend to think that he respectively worked more on a fast surge (better results in one day racing), which typically hinders TT skills, and then just had a bad year: his overall results got worse in 2016, it doesn’t look like an ITT-limited trouble. In fact, in 2017 he looked back to his usual standard, with great performances like the top ten in the TdS 30km-long, 47km/h ITT (where he lost 1′ to Dennis but only 30″ to runner-up Küng and less than 10″ to the likes of Izagirre or Kruijswijk) alternating with disappointing results at the Giro. He looks unpredictable, and I wouldn’t be surprised by either a very good or really awful performance come week 3.

      Agree with all the other comments you make, unless I’m misreading any of them 😛

  11. What happened to the Sunweb rider (Curvers?) who was pictured yesterday throwing a bidon at neutral service?

    Eurosport commentary suggested race commissaires have issued a lot of penalties so far this Giro, are details published online?

  12. Hats off to Mitchelton Scott. Exciting way to race. Monumental Jack Haig. Impressive Chaves. And killer sting by Yates, which gracefully sacrifices a decent deal of seconds to leave a hugely deserved win to his teammate. Wow.

    That’s precisely what I’d always ask to at least some teams in a race. Being utterly creative, they force the rest out of their scheduled plan. The race goes mad further from the line than usual and it all goes more unpredictable and less obvious. Although most contenders went one neutralising each other (which was a huge advantage for Chaves in general terms, and then for Yates in order to find the occasion for a decisive move), that made for exciting racing despite that 10-men group crossing the line together – and the rest probably spent much more energies than Yates himself!

    I wonder if those who looked stronger – and we already knew from TotA who they were – like Pozzovivo, Pinot, G. Bennett, will later repent for a not so daring display of tactics here where they had a margin (I’m not speaking of going Chaves, rather of covering less some mutul moves *or* going a bit deeper *or* collaborating a little more); otherwise, they might have inflicted some small yet decent gap to those who looked to be struggling a little more, namely Froome, Aru and even Dumoulin (the former both looking all the same a bit better than in the previous days, the latter maybe being willingly conservative).

    Well, this Tour of Sicily was frankly good and very Giresque (huge credit to Mitchelton Scott’s attitude for today, anyway). I just hope (but I’m not so sure) that the rest of the Boot will stick to this standard!
    A very good top ten is already taking shape, even if I believe that at least a couple of spots will eventually open up for other contenders.

    • That “sting” by Yates was … very impressive and left me a little bewildered to be honest. He came back to Chaves in no time who was surely riding a bloc at that point. My initial conclusion was that Yates will win this Giro and I haven’t really changed my mind in the hours that have past since then. He seems to be on another level than everyone else.
      Chaves deserved the stage win and I found Yates’ gesture really great with regards to the team’s spirit and integrity. But he not only lost the four seconds bonus for the stage win but another 10 or 15 because he didn’t just blow by Chaves with the huge difference in speed he had. He probably didn’t think about it in the heat of the moment, but I hope that decision will not cost him the overall win.

      • Your last point, I thought the same thing – Yates could have gained precious time by blasting past Chaves. But what a swine he’d have looked! DS has to decide, I suppose, in order to avoid the riders falling out. If I was the DS, I’d take the time.

        • I actually think it would be totally the riders call, the DS is unlikely in this case to tell a GC chance to sit up. It was a lovely moment though. Clearly for Yates, honouring the ride of his team mate was worth more than the 10 secs it maybe cost him on GC. He’ll know that he could have taken more time – but chose not to, and that reflects perhaps more on the well known sentiment/comraderie of MTS. All too rare in todays sporting landscape.

        • Did Yates really slow down (or refrain from riding faster than he could have done) – or did Chaves have that one punch left so that he could hang onto Yates’ wheel?

          We can all agree that Yates gave up the difference in bonus seconds, but any talk of additional 10-15 seconds or even more is IMHO utter speculation and based mainly on a spectatoräs impression of a fan’s firm belief.

  13. +1 on Mitchelton Scott!

    So happy to see attacking teamwork own the day. Especially as MS are a team built on nurturing young talent and a great team culture. The model of older guys mentoring, and doing the grunt work for, young talent is obviously smart but requires a great team culture and is a long game.., which makes today feel all the more satisfying. That said, Haig is young and full of grunt and promise… really hope he turns down the better offers he’s bound to get and one day win a GT at that team

    Etna certainly lived up to the anticipation.

  14. I’d say Chaves should maybe have gained more time. He started the climb with over a minute on the peloton. As a GC rider all he should be interested in is time – and he should be able to do the climb in about the same time as anyone else – he should have been riding, not playing any games with Henao or waiting around. He gave away well over 30 seconds until starting his attack at 5.2k to go with a 32 second lead and held almost all of that until the end, showing that he was as fast as the others.

    As for the others, as ever the GC riders watched each other too much (only Bennett seemed to want to work together): if you have Froome on the ropes you have to go for it, because in a week or so he could be vastly improved.

    Great ride by Yates, who looks very strong. And nice that he gave Chaves the win – forgoing 4 seconds – it would have been harsh to take it away.

    • J, it makes such a big difference if you take regular pulls at the front in a group during the day as Chaves did or just sit in the bunch always in the draft and rarely leaving Zone 2 as Yates, Froome et al did. In total relative to his body weight – which should be pretty similar to Yates – Chaves had spent much more energy and accumulated fatigue when entering the climb than Yates and the other GC contenders.
      And the other question is whether he’s already back to his former level after his horrible crash last autumn and the severe injuries that caused. I personally don’t think so.

    • Yeah, surprised by the foxing in the main group, looked like a chance to put Froome and TD on th rack and they may regret that come week 3. But in the end, it’s just st a case of attacking winning the day… ain’t rocket science.., if you got it, GO!

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