Giro Stage 3 Preview

A big summit finish on Monte Etna. This isn’t the hardest climb of the Giro but it’s plenty for the first Monday of the race.

Ulissi’s joys: A break including Thomas de Gendt who looked to be stretching his legs, he won every climb and sprint along the way and thanks to brute force alone, he didn’t try to outmanoeuvre, he just rode them off his wheel. Aleksandr Vlasov abandoned, he’s been ill and even if you’re not an ardent Astana fan his absence is bad for the race as the Kazakh team were one of the few who had multiple cards to play in the mountains and now they’ve lost Fuglsang’s two lieutenants. We got the inevitable uphill sprint and UAE got to work with Valerio Conti leading the charge and taking team mate Diego Ulissi clear with Quickstep’s Mikel Honoré and Luca Wackermann who launched but faded. Peter Sagan bridged across, the Slovakian seemed to be in prime position but couldn’t finish the job and Ulissi was the clear winner.

The Route: a downhill start but the worst part is neutralised, and then comes a long climb through Leonforte, a place for the day’s breakaway to form. Then it’s round the wide base of Etna to Linguaglossa with a technical approach to the foot of the final climb.

The Finish: there’s no escaping the volcanic feel, even if the summit above is cloudy the road out of Linguaglossa is paved with large flagstones made from the black rock. Then it’s 18km at 6.6%, a long climb and selective, especially as there’s a gentle 5% section to start with meaning things get tighter later on with the final three kilometres at 9%. It’s all on a big main road that snakes it way up, further up the forest gives way to the characteristic barren volcano landscape and it won’t on TV today but steam rises from cracks beside the road.

The Contenders: Filippo Ganna is the race leader but Geraint Thomas is the first among the GC contenders and Ineos will want to ensure rivals can’t take time. The first way to do this is to let a breakaway go clear to take the time bonuses – so Simon Yates can’t – and if the mix is right, someone can sport the maglia rosa for a few days without threatening the big teams and their big ambitions. Half the field is already four minutes down on GC and the likes of Giovanni Visconti (Vini Zabu-KTM), Mark Padun (Bahrain-McLaren), Simon Pellaud (Androni-Sidermec), Matthew Holmes (Lotto-Soudal) and Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r La Mondiale) fit the bill as climbers who could get in a move today and surprise but they’re examples rather than suggestions. This scenario is hard to engineer and the names cited aren’t exactly prolific winners.

Among the GC contenders Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) is the obvious pick, he’s climbing well and has good finishing skills. Geraint Thomas (Ineos) need only mark Yates and then outsprint him.

Simon Yates, G Thomas
Majka, Fuglsang, Visconti, Masnada, Konrad, Padun

Weather: sunshine and clouds with a good chance of rain on the slopes of Etna, a top temperature of 25°C and little wind to speak of, today’s side is sheltered.

TV: they start Etna around 3.40pm with the finish forecast for 4.30pm CEST.

53 thoughts on “Giro Stage 3 Preview”

  1. Have tier two teams (not sure of the current term) ever held a GT leaders jersey? Thomas will be making a nervous return to the volcano. Big Monday.

    • You mean ProConti teams?
      Nicolas Edet on Cofidis took the Red Jersey on Stage 8 of the 2019 Vuelta was the last for a good few years.

    • Probably many times.
      I was watching the detour podcast last night and they interviewed brett lancaster who held the leaders jersey in the giro riding for a Ceramica Panaria Navagare (currently named bardiani csf) after winning the prologue in 2005. Just one example but i presume there are others.

      • Di Luca was in and out of pink in 2009 and eventually finished second riding for LPR when I think they were second tier. Obviously it being Di Luca it’s in italics, with a line through it and with a large asterisk at the end.

    • Going back a bit now – but Thomas Voeckler twice held the yellow jersey while riding for 2nd tier teams… think he probably managed a half a dozen stages in yellow on both occasions.

  2. Since this seems to be the year of the young guns, I’m keen to see what Almeida, Foss, McNulty and O’Connor can do. Fingers crossed for O’Connor in particular.

  3. This race does have a “traditional” feel about it not only time trials but the peloton lined out behind Ineos! As Inrng says, the Ineos mountain train might not quite make it to the station this time. Geraint Thomas was very attentive yesterday, noticeably sitting on Simon Yates’ wheel in the final. I wonder if with the pair of them marking each other it might leave one of the less heralded contenders such as Tobias Foss to take the win and potentially the jersey.

  4. Ulissi looked very impressive yesterday, I always expected him to kick on and become an Alaphilippe type one day rider but it seems these Giro uphill finishes are his specialty. Sagan looked good in bridging across but then just didn’t have it.

    Is this the same route up Etna they did a few years ago, when I think all of Yates, Thomas and Nibali were riding, and they all got blasted by a headwind and nobody attacked? Is it likely the wind will be the same today?

  5. Unless Thomas’ form has taken a huge jump Yates should walk this. His MO is to attack 3km out and the profile today is perfect for this. If Yates cant drop Thomas today then the race is over Thomas should win easily.

    • You do realize we’re discussing the Giro here? Anyting can happen on any day, the craziest stuff on the days you expect it the least. The final week is also extremely brutal, some guys will be looking to peak by then and others will falter after having given good signs for two weeks. No, making bold statements about who should win at this point is a tad too bold.

        • It’ll be interesting to see what happens at the front of the peloton today.
          It’s in Ineos’ interests to let the break go, whilst Mitchelton Scott would perhaps prefer a shot at time bonuses, so could they presume to chase any breakaway down?
          It’s surely in their, and Yates’ minds, however, not to do too much too early.
          Anything more than, say, 10” gain for Yates today would be more than welcome for him.
          It already has the classic Sky defensive feel about this race, something they know how to do very well.
          Whether they have the team here to do it, we shall see.

  6. It’s the northern side up Etna this year. More forrested and so the wind will not play ea serious role.
    It’s a more steady road than the southern which have been used last time.
    Inrng, which of the columbian riders should we watch today?

  7. I cant see why Yates and Thomas should be favourites today.

    Only thing we know from the ITT is that Nibali did better than expected and Fuglsang was a few seconds off Kruijswijk and Kelderman. McNulty was clearly the fastest GC rider on the ITT. As for Thomas and Yates the ITT didn’t reveal anything in regs to their shape.

    De Gent played it smart and lost 8minuttes. He will be in the breakaway.
    QS will attempt to control the breakaway so Almeida can take the jersy (which should suit everyone as there is only one strong team left after Astana’s implosion: Trek – and Nibali is waiting to do his thing for the 3rd week).

    • So Ineos are letting Michelton Scott use up energy chasing bonus points, though would be happy to see the break win, and DQS are happily in the pack? Not convinced by Vicenzo but who knows its a long way from Etna to the Agnello.

    • I think it’s more a case of being a tough call. I expect with the right make-up INEOS will let a break ride. Having someone else do the hard yards of protecting the jersey for a week or so suits them fine.

      It’ll be down to the other teams to find ways of gaining on Thomas (presuming he’s cycling well) and so we can expect INEOS to be relaxed today while the other teams fret about time gaps and closing them. We may see a Tommy Vockler type wearing pink for a bit as a result.

    • Wow – rough day for Britain, they are done for this year’s race. Feel bad for Thomas, but surely this is a form issue as well – the crash didn’t seem that catastrophic. Yates is… I don’t know, that was not a good showing by him.

      Anyways, we’ll see in the hours after the race is over. But, it looks like this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico was not a good indicator of form for the Giro!

        • I’ve now seen two different views – yes, he slammed down hard, with all his weight and momentum concentrated onto his left hip. Those are very big, strong bones and muscles in that area, so I’m not surprised there doesn’t seem to be any fractures, but the tissue trauma and pain would be significant. Kind of like being punched hard in the nose – not hard enough to break any bones, but definitely hard enough to stun and daze one. I wouldn’t be surprised if when he awakens in the morning he can barely walk.

      • Well, pretty horrible from the Twitter video. Besides, it’s a bit of a lottery situation with that kind of crash. You might get away with some skin, you might hit something crucial.

        Hope he will recover quickly.

    • Not really. Its between Nibali and Fuglsang as espected – if Fuglsang can survive the 3 high altitude passes in the final week – and Kreujswijk, Kelderman as outsiders.

      • You expressed doubts about clear favoritism of Thomas and Yates, granted, but I didn’t see you saying they’d lose 12 minutes (after a neutralised zone crash) and 3 minutes + respectively either!

        I’m pretty sure it fits the definition of ‘unexpected’!

        • 12min is unexpected – beeing dropped and losing minuttes when Fuglsang anf Nibali goes is not. Fuglsang and Nibali still held back today.

        • Thomas’s accident was very nasty indeed. I’m surprised he got as far as he did having seen it. Yates rode like he was ill. Maybe there’s something going round?

          • my take: Neither of them did super well in the ITT.

            Yates: probably peaked too early in TA while the likes of Fuglsang and Nibali was still training.
            Thomas: was probably never really there.

  8. I don’t know how Geraint Thomas does it.

    And he’s gone and proved all those wise cynics who said he’d take a hit to be right.

    Hope he heals up soon.

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