Giro Stage 7 Preview

A short stage, no climbs and an obvious sprint finish. Normally yes but watch out for the wind today, the roads are exposed and this could have the air of a semi-classic.

Le Démmarage: nm, English translation: pulling away, burst of speed, acceleration n.

The wind shaped events, the big climb 25km from the finish could have split the race up more but the bunch hunkered town into the headwind. Then in the final Arnaud Démare was losing ground on the climb used before the finish but wasn’t in a hurry to get back, he even told team mates not to rush. Vincenzo Nibali tried an attack which seemed to destabilise Peter Sagan and then Astana surged past to place Fabio Felline, only Démare was on their wheels. The Frenchman came round the final corner and did what he does best: a long sprint up a slight rise. It’s his second stage win and he takes the ciclamino points jersey on a day when Peter Sagan (8th) and Michael Matthews (2nd) wanted to score ahead of the pure sprinters.

The Route: just 143km around the heel of  Italy to Brindisi. The map matters more than the profile today as the wind could get up, they’ll be a NNW wind of 20-30km/h and it could gust to more so this is crosswind territory. The roads here are wide but obviously not peloton wide.

The Finish: after a long straight road into town finally there are four corners to negotiate before the finishing straight, over a kilometre long.

The Contenders: Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) is in form, his team is strong and his confidence is sky high. Still in a straight sprint things went to the photofinish in Villafranca Terena so he’s not streets ahead of the rest, plus this time there’s no hill to eject rival sprinters meaning there’s a wider cast of challengers to make things harder still. He gets three chainrings below just because he’s the obvious pick but plenty can hope to surf his wheel and then zip past with 50 metres to go. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Emirates) ought to be a strong pick but seeing him dropped on climbs lately suggests his form isn’t where it could be. Deceuninck-Quickstep have Davide Ballerini and Alvaro Hodeg and even King Solomon might find it hard to chose between the two but the team are great in crosswinds so watch out. Elia Viviani (Cofidis) gets the dragstrip finish to suit, he’s had a rotten year – the Olympics were his big focus but that went out the window – so just one win could transform everything and normally he’s got the torque for a late surge. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) should be close and a win too would mean so much too.

Arnaud Démare
Fernando Gaviria, Peter Sagan, Davide Ballerini
Hodeg, Viviani, Barbier, Matthews, Cimolai

Weather: sunny but only 20°C and a moderate 20-30km/h wind from the north.

TV: the finish is forecast for 4.30pm CEST.

42 thoughts on “Giro Stage 7 Preview”

  1. The finish was strange yesterday, I think the headwind in the last 300m surprised many, most of the top sprinters ran out of teammates too early, Astana left it late and came around pretty fast, and it was some clever surfing from Demare on Felline’s wheel.

    I expect Sagan will be disappointed, once again his team worked pretty hard all day, and it all fell apart when it really mattered. Still, good to see Bora try and animate the race. Matthews seems to be coming around pretty well, however, and if Sunweb decide to support him, he’s got a good team around him, and several winnable stages ahead.

    I also was surprised to see Trek try to get a cheeky little gap on the last ramp before the line, it might even have succeeded if the wind had been a bit different. No chance this time, but again, it’s nice to see them try out some moves.

  2. Which teams might be able to exploit the wind (assuming it blows) today? I suspect Jumbo Visma might be able to put some of the climbers in trouble, Tony Martin is in the “wily old fox” category now. There will be some nervous GC riders on the start line this morning.

    • Jumbo Visma, Quick Step and Lotto are the experts in that kind of thing. Sky eps have Dennis and Ganna to lay some big watts out too

      • Problem with Ineos is that they have no sprinter to finish the stage win. Usually, they would want their GC prospect to gain time. With Thomas going home, they sure are not wasting Ganna or Dennis to set someone else up. Swift, if he’s good can certainly surf Quickstep train.

        • With crosswinds Swift would need team mates to surf the wheels as any rider identifiable as a ‘potential stage winner’ will simply be eased off the back or at least constantly challenged in their position in an echelon. Teams can do this by having a strong rider create a gap which their target either sees widen or has to work to close. Repeatedly done this is extremely wearing.

    • I guess there’s an equation which is length of stage and strength of riders by the benefit of time gain from crosswind gaps.
      The only team I think that fits that mould is Quick Step. Bora could be incentivised for Sagan, but he’s yet to repay their hard work.
      INEOS and Astana have lost their GC riders so the incentive is not there. They’re two strong teams that might have rivalled QS on such a stage, but other than fighting for Swifty, there’s not much point in INEOS flogging themselves.
      Now I’ve put my cards on the table I’ll no doubt be proved wrong. It’s like the old Dune story: “plans within plans”.

      • ‘INEOS and Astana have lost their GC riders’? Fuglsang is and always was Astana’s GC rider in this race. And he is ideally suited – if his team is up to it – to taking time in crosswinds against more ‘pure’ climbers, as he showed in the 2014 TdF when he shepherded Nibali through the pave stage.

      • I’ve never understood why his team don’t say ‘No, you can’t do that’. How many more times will he be allowed to cause himself such issues? It happens on mountains too: he ends up chasing through gaps left.

        • How many peoples seasons are ended, or GC hopes dashed, in stupid bunch crashes like the two scrappy ones that have happened today and the countless ones that have happened in first weeks of Tours. Sitting at the back you avoid those. You might lose 30 seconds here and there but you’ll still be in the race. Yates maybe backs himself to get it back in the mountains. One of the most annoyingly stupid things about modern cycling for me is the constant desire of everyone to be at the front all the time.

          • I agree with you when there is no particular need to be at the front (an example of how radios make riding less safe), but today Yates was lucky – he could have lost minutes. And in the mountains there really is no need for him to do it: he ends up having to come round those who are dropped.

          • It’s always a roll of the dice. Often a point of frustration watching riders We are rooting for who at times (I think) are too close to the front and other times not close enough.
            If they’d just listen to Us they’d be safe.

  3. Off the topic of the Giro, but perhaps something for a post. Here’s an article about the steep decline in sports viewership during the pandemic:

    In the US there’s been suggestions that the NBA’s emphasis on BLM has turned off viewers (NBA finals viewership is down 45%) but it turns out that viewership is down significantly in many sports (tennis: US Open down 43%, French Open down 57% so far), Kentucky Derby (-43%), Indy 500 (-32%), Stanley Cup (-63%). However, the article notes that TdF viewership was up 73%.

    It’s been suggested that many people watch sports because it’s something we share communally. We watch a game or match and then talk about it at work the next day, or we watch in real time at a pub or bar among other fans. In the COVID world, those norms are upended. Since televised pro cycling has traditionally been difficult to watch as a group with other fans (many races not televised, televised races often occur at very inconvenient times, races are very very long), and because the fan base is small but perhaps more dedicated, might it be that cycling viewership is up because with many people working from home or simply isolating more, we fans are able to watch more races? That’s certainly been the case with me.

    I’d love to know if football (soccer) and cricket and rugby television viewship is also down, since the above stats in the article are primarily US numbers. And aside from the Tour, how is viewership in other cycling races?

    • That’s quite interesting actually, certainly sports that usually have crowds are missing some atmosphere when you watch them on the TV. I’d be interested to see the stats for cricket as the England Test matches that took place over the summer were seen by many as a light in the darkness, starting back again before many other sports, and using the bio-bubble technique to keep them safe. (plus the matches themselves were fantastic)

      • Record viewing figures for the BBC’s premier league showings so far, Amazon are happy with increased subscription and viewing figures for their games, and i think (not 100% sure) Sky are looking at a boost in subscriptions and viewers.

        I know the recent womens T20’s got good figures, above the previous averages. Although the summer tests saw a drop, but i’d put that down the weather delaying much of the action rather than a lack of interest.

        I’d say the US just has other issues to be worrying about, whilst the more European sports are up to speed, fairly normal and i think importantly are now back on regular schedules when we’d expect them to be happening. Cycling races specifically are delayed, but we’d normally be seeing action at this time of year anyway so our viewing habits hvn’t really changed.

    • Cycling audiences in the core markets are doing well as a whole, eg the Tour de l’Ain and Dauphiné did very well in France, also Lombardia, Sanremo in Italy… but don’t know for areas like the US/UK/Australia etc.

      • The politicisation of sport is an unwanted practise. Stamp out racism has been around for a long time, but all the virtue signalling nonsense (Lewis Hamilton being the most egregious) is rather off putting. The BLM movement has some eye raising goals speaking as a family man.
        But I agree, all the BLM pandering does not make one stop watching sport.

    • Never before did the travelogue and scenic panoramas of the TdF have such pathos. Days dreamily spent watching the wide views of cols and valleys denied to us now held a sick fascination.
      Oh, and the racing was some of the best there’s been for years: That’s why so many of us watched.

      • My mother watched every stage of the TdF for the scenery, to make up for cancelled holidays etc. (Three weeks later and she knew as much about professional cycling as I do.)

  4. Yet another example of Sagan’s poor positioning in sprints this year. And, as in the TdF, once he’d lost the sprint he largely sat up rather than gaining as many points as possible.

    • As Secretary of the Peter Sagan Fan Club (NW England Branch) I would like to respectfully point out that this is his second grand tour on the bounce.

      • But his positioning was poor in the first GT. And would doing a second GT in quick succession adversely affect his positioning skills?

  5. Cycling is perfect when working from home.
    TV on in the background, take a glance at it ever 10 mins, but mostly just listen to commentary… then focus properly on the last climb or last 5k or at a critical incident etc.

    • Cycling and cricket have been the background to my WFH summer.

      Both can be followed without 100% attention and last for days on end. Bliss.

  6. I’m still trying to adapt with a weekend of Paris-Tours, Gent-Wevelgem and a Giro stage all on the same day. What an upside down cycling world.
    Looks like another day Démare, full of confidence and with a devoted team. Hard to find another sprinter who can currently rival.

  7. After Jimmy Whelan’s camera time yesterday, I’ll parochially point out that I was surprised to notice yesterday that there are 18 Australians in this Giro after there being only 2 in the Tour. On that, it’s nice to see that there is a promising young crop in Hindley, the Hamilton bros, Harper and Whelan coming through. And that’s not including Haig – It was so disappointed to see him dropping back and losing time when Yates had his first wobble. He’s strong, consistent and proven and I think, deserved his chance here.

    Generally I’m really how the thinned and ever-thinning field at this Giro has given a great opportunity to so many riders that usually wouldn’t have the chance to make a top 10 or 20… you get the feeling there’s going to be some breakthrough results and a few surprises and it’s great to follow some of these new names.

    • Most Australians in the WorldTour have a strong ITT background, not surprising to see them pop up here rather than on the Tour de France this year.

      If Yates’ demise is confirmed in the next couple of hard stages, I could see Jack Haig going for a strong break in the tough climbs of the third week. But considering how many stages seem drawn for the sprinters-who-can-climb on this Giro, I still think Matthews is Australia’s best hope for a stage victory (or two!) this year.

    • Paris-Roubaix cancelled as well. I bet it absolutely lashes down now. Then come April that part of France will be back in its early spring sub-Saharan climate.

      • So disappointing about P-R. If people could be trusted to act sensibly and not turn out to watch the race on the side of the road the race could have gone ahead. Worryingly large crowds at the Giro too.

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