Giro Stage 6 Preview

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.

36 thoughts on “Giro Stage 6 Preview”

  1. Technical note: Patrick Konrad won the sprint for second and so gained bonus seconds on Almeida, who finished third to extend his overall lead on second in the GC.

  2. Marc Madiot on Equipe TV yesterday contrasted the Giro and TdF stressing that the team discipline and pressure in the Tour compromised the racing and spectator pleasure while the Giro was a delight. He is right.

    Yates seems to be having more than one off day. He was dropped on the climb again despite getting back on this time.

    • Definitely something wrong. But is he improving or was the pace/climb not as hard as Etna because this time he was dangling just off the back over the top of the climb.

  3. It was pretty impressive watching Ganna purr away on that climb yesterday, pulling away from Brambilla who was rocking this way and that while he made knocking out a sustained 400 watts or more look quite a relaxing thing to do. I reckon that’s the last time he’ll be allowed in a break on a stage any team has designs on trying to win!
    Re Rubio, he’s clearly spent his formative years watching Quintana.
    Another entertaining stage today. A showdown between Matthews, Sagan and Ulissi should be good regardless of the outcome.

  4. Filippo Ganna’s ride was impressive, powering along in the big ring. Some of the excited commentary is rather overdone though, yes tall riders have won GTs but the climb was exactly suited and his luck was in, Thomas de Gendt stopped riding & there was not much incentive for the bunch to chase. Harder challenges will come but he does seem to have the “right” sort of personality to make it as a top sports person.

    Today does seem to be perfect for Peter Sagan, presumably he will win again sometime but he has been finding all sorts of ways of coming second!

    • Agree with the comment about presenters – at one point on Eurosport I heard a reference to Indurain and his Tour-winning exploits. And then Wiggins added to the GC talk in the studio. One thing is for certain – it was a ground-braking win as he’d never won a professional road stage before. But I don’t see any GC challenge any time soon from him.

    • It’s a feature of cycling that even before Ganna had crossed the line yesterday we see speculation and extrapolation about what he could win next, as if the Italian title, the Worlds, the maglia rosa and now a road stage aren’t quite enough. It’s understandable but in other sports when a footballer scores a goal or a driver wins an F1 race there’s usually celebration rather than “ok, but what can you do next?”

      • Not sure I agree with that. Every young Argentine who is shifty and can score a goal or two is the “next Messi” just like they were the next Maradona before Messi came along with people (and top clubs) projecting what they can do and adding heaps of pressure on them. In fact, I would venture Football is millions of times (pounds and euros) worse than cycling at speculating what a youngster can do next instead of just appreciating a performance.

        • I know what you mean but cycling seems to be asking the question as soon as the ball has left the player’s foot and before its heading for the goal sometimes. Maybe I don’t follow football as closely though.

          • To push the analogy, it’s rare in football that, after a standout performance as a central defender, the media talk is about whether the player could be successfully retrained as a top goalscorer.

            Also I wonder how many of the pundits desperately looking for the New Eddy Merckx (TM) have seen how Merckx raced, beyond the 30min of archive footage that keeps getting shown. It reminds me of jokes about film critics who have never seen Citizen Kane, but will still use it as the gold standard against which every new film should be compared.

          • I actually love it all.

            It was amazing watching Ganna win, completely unexpected and joyful.

            Then the speculation is part of the celebration/enjoyment, it’s fun to imagine what he might do as we digest what he has done!

          • Hi from Argentina. Both of you are right. However, Inner Ring is, as it matches, just speaking of cycling. Comments about Argentinien way of being did not pertain to this blog. No offense

          • Don’t you think, though, in this case it has something to do with the fact that Ganna is clearly an amazing time trialist who suddenly showed he had range–the kind of range that might make for a serious GC contender these days?

      • Trust me when I say nothing is as nauseating as the way football commentators talk about football teams and players when they think they already assume they are going to win the game. The narrative is not about what’s happening on the pitch but the schoolboy wet dream of how this side or that side will win the game, and that every touch is pure perfection, even if that’s not what is actually happening. The foregone conclusion is much more apparent when it’s United/City/Liverpool/Barcelona/(insert big club name here).
        So cycling commentators looking into their little glass balls to see a cyclist’s possible future is forgivable, as it doesn’t make me want to vomit in my mouth.
        Football commentators are forever trying to pick the next big thing – and chat endlessly after the game if that player scores a goal. Chance always plays such a big part in the narratives. Ganna would never have had his chance if Thomas was still in the race, and Gareth Bale would probably be in the lower leagues if Redknapp hadn’t moved him up to play on the wing, and they didn’t qualify for the CL so he could rinse Maicon repeatedly.
        But Ganna has a lot of competition for the next hot young thing since there are so many around already making good on their promise.

    • The speculation from top class TT’er to potential GC success is understandable though, given how so many tours and stage races have been won by ex-TT riders, if you can call them that.
      In fact, a top TT provides an essential building block for graduation into most other types of races and it’s not hard to see someone of Ganna’s talent doing that.
      I think it’s just the excitement of seeing Ganna emerge and imagining where he can go.

      • Wasn’t there an old saying coined by some grizzly old French coach back in the day ‘give me a world class pursuiter and I’ll give you a Tour de France winner’ or something to that effect? Granted it was a while ago and a few things have probably changed since then but you won’t find anyone better at the pursuit than Ganna. He seems too big to me, considerably more strongly built than the always wiry Wiggins was before he converted.

    • Not too hard? How can he get back to the first 20 riders after he has been dropped to the back of the group on the climb? Or do you expect him to hold his ground on the climb?

          • ah, this was in reply to INRNG’s post. Anyway – looking forward to today.

            Hard to say who I’d like to win – want Sagan to get a victory, but also like Matthews and feel like he’s a bit unlucky overall, Demare has is victory so possibly prefer the previous two, even if Swift would be a bit of a fairytale given he rarely wins, although the crash two days ago might be affecting him?

          • The alleged extended sticky bottle.
            There are facts, “facts”, factoids and the list goes on. And as always, facts about other people are easier to come up with and easier to accept as facts – even after they’ve been disproven. You can replace “other people” for instance with “other nationalities” or “riders you don’t particulary like”.

            PS In my book it’s “not proven”. And that is quite distinct from “Not proven, but guilty”.

          • just to clarify I am in full agreement Eskerrik.

            Happy to joke every so often on stuff like this, and noel’s comment is funny.
            But obvs – no one guilty till proven, and some similar stories to this are quite annoying, especially when a country/riders gets unfairly judged without evidence.

        • @Eskerrik Asko the case against “not proven but guilty” would look much stronger if he hadn’t posted his original Strava file, quickly realised it looked dodgy, pulled it, then edited out the dodgy bit and re-posted it. Actions like that do not have the look of a man with a clean conscience.

        • Well, I guess he didn’t really need to return to the front by himself. Instead the front waited for Demare to return 😛 Great sprint nonetheless!

          • They really did.
            And how many more poor sprints is Sagan going to have to do before people accept that he’s sprinting badly this year? He did alright the other day, but as in the TdF his positioning today was woeful (and not just by his high standards, by any standard).
            I haven’t seen a worse sprint than that since MvDP in the Brabantse Pijl…

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