Giro Stage 7 Preview

A day for a breakaway before the uphill finish in L’Aquila.

Stage 6 Review: cycling can be such a long sport that a six hour race is short, that one day racing is intense. In a grand tour it’s three weeks and so long that you willingly surrender the lead and finally Primož Roglič managed to shake off the maglia rosa. Almost literally after an early crash in the stage left him with torn kit. There was breakaway from which Fausto Masnada launched the winning move on the big climb of the day. Only Valerio Conti could join him and the pair had a shared interest to reach the finish together since Conti was going to collect the maglia rosa and Masnada could aim for the stage win. In the finishing straight Conti kept shifting his hands on the bars as if he was displaying body language to Masnada to hurry up and sprint past. Masnada still deserved the win and it’s a huge achievement for any wildcard invitee to win a stage in a grand tour. The Italians have their stage win and the overall lead and Conti was delighted, giving an Oscar-style acceptance speech where he was thanking many for helping into this moment.

The Route: if yesterday was a possible breakaway day, today’s a much stronger chance for move to stick. The Svolte di Popoli climb is more famous in motorsport for the hairpin bends but like most other times when a bike race uses a motorsport course it’s a different feel, a Lilliputian moment. Still if no body is drifting through the hairpins it’s still an ascent for 9km at 5.6%.

The Finish: they could ride into town, but instead with 9km to go flick off for a loop with some extra climbing and twisting roads before a citadel finish reminiscent of what we often see in Tirreno-Adriatico as the ride past the old gate into town and an uphill finish to the line.

The Contenders: who makes the breakaway? Today’s finish is uphill so if someone can make the move they’ll need an explosive finish. Diego Ulissi (UAE Emirates) got the nod yesterday, he can again today while Valerio Conti may have a temporary grip on the race lead but five minutes over the main candidates is probably enough, he’s unlikely to be allowed to take more. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) is the daily pick (* Update 9.30am: apparently he’s biding his time until the mountains), let’s also cite Andrea Vendrame (Androni-Sidermec), Tony Gallopin (Ag2r La Mondiale) and… and… actually once you look at the riders and remove those working for team leaders and other related duties it’s not easy to name more who you’d back for a punchy uphill finish, for all the GC contenders in the race there’s no Peter Sagan, Alejandro Valverde, Julian Alaphilippe, Michael Matthews et al.

De Gendt*, Gallopin
Vedrame, Vuillermoz, Jungels, Lobato, Dunbar, Gasparotto

Weather: sunshine and clouds, 18°C

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST / Euro time. It’s on RAI in Italy, Eurosport across most of Europe and Australia, L’Equipe TV in France and Flobikes and in the US.


44 thoughts on “Giro Stage 7 Preview”

  1. Perhaps a day for Alexis Vuillermoz? Though I expect he’s attempting a GC bid first and foremost after his previous 11th place…

  2. Something satisfying about watching Masnada. He hits a rhythm right between ragged and smooth and looks like he could stay there forever. A deserved winner, despite the deal. He kept the gap to the chasers at 30 seconds for the last 20km with basically no help from Conti.

    Sam Oomen the biggest winner of the day? Thought that Jumbo Visma were unnecessarily generous to a former top ten.

    • I thought too that they had given the break rather a lot of time by the end. One thing giving the jersey away another allowing potential top 10 riders to take so much time. Sunweb had said that Sam Oomen was going for breaks not GC, they might now have to revise that, he has been training with Tom Dumoulin so should still be OK riding into third week. Movistar now have two riders in the top 10, Andrey Amador must have a shot of staying there or do they still go with Mikel Landa or Richard Carapaz?

    • I was surprised by that also, given that Oomen was in a supporting role last year but was never outside the top 30 and stayed super strong in the third week as others faded. Yes he is lacking in the ITT but so are other contenders for the top 10 eg Formolo, Majka, Lopez, Carapaz, Landa, I was expecting some of those teams to take up the pace towards the end to minimise the time conceded.

    • If I am not mistaken, Sam was a pretty late call up for the Giro, after Kelderman, who was lined up as support for Dumoulin broke some bones. Jumbo’s assessment seems correct in hindsight, as Sam is now about half a minute ahead of Roglic, which is not particularly dangerous. The fact that he is killing himself in the breakaway in the first week makes it even less dangerous. On top of that he finished over a minute down to the stage winner, so he’s not really in the form of his life right now. I think Jumbo V did good to stay calm.

  3. For me the obvious breakaway pick for today is Ciccone. The race passes his hometown, there are mountain points to be won, and there’s every chance of a stage win. Some of the teams that were conspicuously absent from yesterday’s break should also feature you’d imagine: EF Education First, Ineos, Lotto Soudal.

    Then again, with Conti in pink and the finish being the stuff Ulissi dreams of, UAE might just be tempted to bring the break back.

      • For some reason I thought he was of similar frame to Masnada, but a quick glance at PCS makes it clear that Ciccone is a fair bit smaller and lighter. So yes, you could well be right that today is better suited to the slightly more powerfully built climbers.

  4. GCN reported Thomas of Gent was under orders not to go in breakaways until the third week, though I can’t remember their sources.

  5. So when Conti says after the stage that he wanted to win the stage too but that Masnada was just too strong, is that just being gentlemanly by not revealing a deal they had?

    Fun stage to watch.

    • I thought Contis exaggerated hand movements, getting out of the saddle swinging the bars etc was pure theater to make Pasnadas win look ‘genuine’, which he then tried to back up with his comments. Which is classy – we all know a deal was done and don’t have an issue with it, and Conti shows humility and respect to a competitor and countryman.

  6. At last, there was a dog running onto the road in front of Conti and Masnada near the end! Seems to happen less frequently these days. What is it with bike races and dogs?

    • I’d ask what is it with people who bring dogs to bike races and unleash them? There are plenty of strays around for a variety of reasons, but this didn’t look like one to me. I kept looking at the TV picture, thinking “Whose dog was that?” but saw only a lone car parked up there – perhaps they let the thing out to do its business at the wrong time? I wonder what the race marshal who climbed off the moto did? I assume he wanted to make sure the thing didn’t end up back in the road when the rest of the race came past.
      I’m reminded of this from the “Greatest Show on Earth”
      The “action” starts just a bit more than a minute into the clip 🙂

    • I am surprised we don’t see more of that. If you ever ride through villages you often experience some dogs running around and potentially also chasing you.

    • Dogs are just plain stupid when it comes to bikes. You’ll never crash over a cat, they move out of the way of a bigger faster thing.

    • In many more remotes places, there are animals which are owned by the village rather than an individual, so aren’t locked up.

  7. Can Conti become an Italian Tommy Voeckler? I hope he tries to hang on to it for as long as possible, what else has he got to do for the next 2 weeks?!

    • He says he’ll hold on for as long as he can, and hopes to keep it until the time trial. But he’s a talented rider who should be able to hold on to it for longer. It’s hard to see him keeping it in the final week but at least for a bit in the mountains given his margin. If Fabio Aru wasn’t absent Conti wouldn’t have had his day and the team wouldn’t lead the race.

      • What’s Aru’s role going forward? Seems like his days are well past at the top level, but he doesn’t seem to have the personality to be a super domestique.

        • You havent been following the news? Hes discovered a health concern which could explain his form decline I would imagine once\if that is resolved he’ll aim to pick up where he left off in 2017.

          • @BenW
            Not as simply cynical as you might be suggesting. Astana, among other things, has got a serious technical staff – part of it, at least, and maybe not as long as hip hop is concerned – while UAE simply hadn’t, until some recent recruiting (and I’m not sure that it’s going to be enough). Just check the huge step back which also was taken by other high-level athletes who joined the team while supposedly hitting their prime: Kristoff and D. Martin come to mind, but also good cyclists like Atapuma or Swift. They were from Katusha, Quickstep, BMC and Sky, that is you could be equally cynical, but it might also be about the way the team was working, even more so if you also look at the relative failure at developing very promising young talents like Ganna, Petilli, Ravasi and, to a certain point, also Polanc.

          • Reading between the lines Gabriele I sense you think this is a matter of the blood passport. “How do I explain a constant dip in form when I need to resurrect my career?” Perhaps I’m putting my own spin on it. But, yes, each of the riders you mentioned are a step or so below where they were with their previous (more successful) team.

          • Indeed they are – its interested me for some time, in fact. Obviously it can be interpreted a couple of different ways – these “steps back” in form are common with riders leaving big teams though – few leave Quickstep with any sort of form, see also Astana and Sky. It makes you wonder – but then one doesn’t need a long memory to remember controversy at the end of UAE’s Lampre days.

  8. Yesterday was a great example of why mutually beneficial “deals” on the road are necessary in cycling – a classic “if we work together, you’ll have the stage win and I’ll get the leader’s jersey”.

    Also, given Dumoulin’s exit, yesterday worked out as well as it could for Sunweb – Oomen putting himself nicely back into GC contention (possible top 10?).

    • Hmmm, I puzzled this one a little. Had Conti stayed with the rest he surely would’ve stayed in Pink because of the sizeable time gap the break already had, and to the extent that Masnada had made the break with him he didn’t really need to ride. It’s likely he got some time advantages, and if he had screwed Masnada over it might have repercussions, but he wasn’t ultimately beholden to Masnada, either for riding hard, nor giving him the win. A nice sportsmanlike gesture for sure though.

  9. Rolled my eyes a bit when I read Gianni Savio’s claim that Masnada is part of the same ‘project’ that brought Bernal and Sosa to the world’s attention. Sure Masnada is having a great year but he’s 25 not 21, and he was WorldTour a few years ago already with Lampre. Credit where it’s due Gianni, but not so much this time.

    • He was just a trainee at Lampre for a short period in 2016, from August, 1. on and rode the 5 Italian autumn classics for the team, all the rest from 2010 up to today he was part of Androni.

  10. Why hasn’t EF been made to switch their kit colors away from pink so as to not confuse them with the maglia rosa? Do they not do that anymore

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