A good day for visuals, today’s stage takes in scenery used in many films, from spaghetti westerns to Mel Gibson’s Passion of Christ. As for the bike race, tune in for the tough finish today.
Runaway train: a frantic start to the stage with wave after wave of attacks, including a sustained effort from Thomas de Gendt and Peter Sagan but they couldn’t make stick. A move finally went clear with Jan Tratnik (Bahrain-McLaren), Carl Frederik Hagen (Lotto-Soudal) and Ineos pair Filippo Ganna and Salvatore Puccio and they were joined by Hector Carretero (Movistar), Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates), Jhonathan Restrepo (Androni-Sidermec) and Edoardo Zardini (Vini Zabu-KTM). Filippo Ganna, a wagon released from the Ineos train, still looked to have drawn the short straw, this was a mountain stage and he’s a colossus of a rider with a physique worthy of his father Marco who represented Italy the kayak at the 1984 Olympics. Only on the slopes of Montescuro he mopped up all the other attacks and when Thomas de Gendt bridged across with Einer Rubio he didn’t seem flustered. De Gendt however looked annoyed with Rubio who’d sat on for a long time, the Colombian could rightly claim his team mate Carretero was up the road but once Carretero was dropped, Rubio still didn’t work. As they debated – De Gendt would later brand Rubio “a backpack” for the way he sat on – Ganna rode clear. That was that, he was away and quickly took time, surging even to gain time on the peloton despite the pace-setting from Trek-Segafredo. On the descent Ganna looked uneasy at first bu despite Domenico Pozzovivo and Vincenzo Nibali pushing the pace, Ganna kept his lead and enjoyed the solo stage win. Behind João Almeida won the sprint for third place to take a few bonus seconds while Jonathan Caicedo was dropped earlier and fell down the standings.
The Route: 188km north by north east and a hilly opening phase, no categorised climbs but plenty of climbing with the road up the sides of Monte Cappellazzo at the start and then a long drag leading to the first intermediate sprint of the day. Then it’s across to the plains of Basilicata, the heel and even the footarch of Italy today. The climb of “Millotta” is a big highway, most of it a steady 5-6% and the descent matches.
The Finish: a ride into Matera, known for its Sassi caves, and a sassy finish. There’s a 750m ramp at 7% with some 10% midway, it’s all on a wide road rather than a medieval street but hard still and will cause trouble for plenty of sprinters. Then things level out through town and it’s almost flat to the finish, it drags up and then kicks up just by the line.
The Contenders: today’s finishing straight is almost flat but to get there is that short tough climb. Who can do this sort of effort? Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) of course, this is a perfect finish for him and his form is starting to look good. Still others are suited too, Michael Matthews (Sunweb) as the obvious ruval. Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck-Quickstep) who can sprint and cope with a short climb too. Ben Swift (Ineos) as well, he’s not on team duty any more but he’s hit or miss some times and he too has crashed. Diego Ulissi could strike again but just as in Agrigento last Sunday UAE Emirates will need to hit the climb hard to see if they can take a move clear from the sprinters.
The early breakaway has a chance but only if it has riders from teams like Bora, Deceuninck and UAE in it, otherwise the plains will be ideal ground to reel it in.
|Peter Sagan, Michael Matthews|
|Davide Ballerini, Diego Ulissi|
|Démare, Swift, Vendrame, Consonni|
Weather: warm and sunny, 28°C but with a stiff breeze from the NNW, an echelon-inducing 30km/h which could be pesky for the final run on the plains and the climb.
TV: the finish is forecast for 4.30pm CEST.