Giro d’Italia Stage 6 Preview

A hard day in the Apennines with the first summit finish of the race.

Tirannia Adriatica: the gods can be cruel, one day Mikel Landa was making one of his special attacks in the drops, and for once he made it stick and only a few could follow. The next day he crashed out of the Giro and was loaded into an ambulance. Landa’s fall was one of several, Joe Dombrowski went from second on GC to 48th, that’s if he stays in the race pending a concussion check. Pavel Sivakov is out of the race, ditto François Bidard of Ag2r Citroën who would have been tipped for the breakaway on mountain stages to come.

Little else happened on the stage but it was a hectic day for the riders as the inevitable sprint approached. Caleb Ewan was left without his full lead out but perhaps this was a stroke of luck as he surfed the wheels instead and won, surging past Giacomo Nizzolo.

The Route: 160km and 3,600m of vertical gain. It’s uphill from the start, a launchpad for the day’s breakaway but it could take longer for a move to form. Today’s stage sweeps past familiar places from Tirreno-Adriatico like Matelica and Castelraimondo on the way to the Forca Gualdo in the Monte Sibillini. There are 10% slopes early on and this is climb with a spaghetti western feel, a big wide road and in big wide country and passage across to the Forca di Presta with more climbing to the pass.

The descent is as long as it looks, 40km downhill and mostly on a big road, including some tunnels but with plenty of cracks and potholes.

The Finish: a 15km summit finish but it’s got gentle gradients for most of the way, there’s a lot of 4-5% at first, the kind of climb where riding a mountain train helps. The slope starts to bite with 5km to go and it’s over 7% from here to the finish.

The Contenders: a good day for a breakaway but the Israel team will want to keep De Marchi in pink and there are two ways of doing this, one is sending him up the road – and the form is there as long as he’s recovered from Monday – and the other is to chase today, not necessarily too hard but enough so that when the GC riders start hustling for the final climb the break is either brought back or contained. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) as ever comes to mind but is the form there? Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) will like the route and the chainring ratings below have a few breakaway suggestions.

Among the GC contenders Egan Bernal (Ineos) looked great in Sestola but that was on a 10% slope, here you’d think he’ll need more punch to get away but is looking easy so he’s the safe pick today. Simon Yates (Bike Exchange) is worth watching to see if he’s still showing the form he had in the Tour of the Alps, whether the seconds lost in Sestola’s were down to the cold or not.

Egan Bernal
Mollema, Yates, Ciccone, Brambilla, Villella, Conti, Formolo

Weather: a sunny day, 23°C in the valleys but cooler at altitude and it should stay dry.

TV: the start starts at 12.55pm CEST, the big Forca di Gualdo climb is from about 2.45pm onwards and if you tune in around 4.30pm you’ll get the final climb with the finish forecast for 5.15pm CEST.

74 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 6 Preview”

    • Depends on the time gaps but he’s in very good shape, did a good opening TT, was very strong in the Tour of the Alps and then did a lot of chasing on Tuesday and still all but Dombrowski off his wheel up the final climb.

  1. I’m wondering what the M.O. of Quick Step is from here on in, now that Almeida is effectively out of GC contention?
    Does Evenepoel keep a low profile and just try to go with the flow, then hope to recover time in the final TT?
    It would be understandable, but the most un-Quick Step-like approach to take I’d recall?
    Or does he / can he do something on days like these (cue Matt Monro)?

    • I thought Evenepoel might have featured on the list of potential winners – the gradient it looks like it could be a large-ish GC group at the finish and he seems to be one of the punchier riders. Could see a Roglic-like strategy of time bonuses and TT time gains, or have I misinterpreted Evenepoel’s strengths?

  2. It’s hard to separate the potential winners. Why not Vlasov, Carthy, Bardet, Martin…all assuming that the break is reeled in. I suspect that if Evenepoel can win he will win. He has all the arrogance (no bad thing) and confidence of youth (see Merckx Giro 1968 & TdF 69) and has not yet suffered the setbacks that bring moderation and reason (see Yates 2018).

    Matt Monro: I need help Ecky!

  3. a practical and minor question… I’m always wondering why the course profiles provided by the Giro (and other races) show kilometers ridden on the x-axis, but not kilometers remaining? The television coverage only shows kilometers remaining. So for viewers who watch delayed coverage like myself, and I guess there are many thousands like me, we need to do some quick arithmetic to match up the televised coverage with key points of interest in the race. Obviously not a big deal, but kind of a weird omission considering how basic this is. Why don’t the organizers simply provide two rows of numbers on the x-axis of course profiles: kilometers ridden AND kilometers remaining?

    • +1 (00)
      You’re not alone in thinking this. It seems like such a simple thing to do that would make things easier for the viewer.

    • If you look at the published timetable (look on the race website or Steephill) there are two columns, one distance from start the other distance to finish. I agree however that some consistency or showing both distances would be better.

    • +1 as well. I thought the very same thing a few days ago.

      Although, I suppose we should be thankful they are at least in the same units. I can easily imagine RCS deciding one year to use Roman cubits for some obscure reason.

    • Put yourself in the position of the rider, DSs and support staff, road crews, commissaires;- are they meant to have odometers and GPS units that run backwards to tick down to zero at the finish..?
      The road book from which the profiles are taken is really meant for the race. It’s vital to know when the sprints, KoMs oh and the finish are going to come at the distances given from the start.
      But yeah, if RCS was responsive to an audience it wouldnt be hard to do a version that counts down 😀

      Shockingly dangerous parcours yesterday. Not just traffic islands and pedestrian crossing shelters, but all those sausage kerbs and bollards too. Really need to see prominent markers sticking up above head height on everthing. Yes, Landa and Dombrowski came down on an outrider who was standing in front of a metal stanchion, but was there a whistle and could the marshall be seen above a group? Nope.
      We keep on seeing this kind of thing and not enough is being done. A simple brightly coloured tall card or inflatable would be so simple and quick to ziptie on to any upright.

      • And sponsor them – because they’re much more likely to be put up if there’s money involved.
        Or a large, sponsored helium-filled balloon.

        • Hmm. Private hospital group or orthopaedic treatment brands come to mind. “Straight where you’re headed if you hit this.”
          But yeah, an insurance company would be spot-on and exactly right on brand values of protection.
          Normally don’t share this kind of idea, but this is getting urgent and humanitarian.

    • Just another example of how crap the user experience is when watching cycling, or at least crap compared to what it could be

  4. Totally off topic but perhaps someone who reads this has experience with TV coverage?
    WTF do we hear all the racket from the rotor blades on the helicopter shots? There’s zero reason for any sort of microphone in a ‘copter hundreds of feet above, video is what we’re after.
    My father was involved with one of the very first TV traffic ‘copters back in the day and when it couldn’t fly for some reason like weather, they’d fire it up on the ground and have the reporter read the traffic reports as if they were flying. If the ‘copter couldn’t even be started up, they’d turn on a vacuum cleaner in the office and the reporter would then read the report.
    Is the racket just a sound-effect to remind us these are images being shot from a helicopter?

    • Good question! I have a family who is complaining about exactly that sound when I watch any bike race. They don’t mind I spend a lot of time in front of the tv, but the rotor sounds bugs them as H.

    • I like the sound of the rotor blades. It is the comforting sound of bike racing on TV, similar to the sound of muffled chatter and a bat tapping the ground at a cricket match. Ideal for dozing off to…!

    • I don’t work in TV, but I’m betting it’s about the switching process – the tech for switching between feeds is going to be very, very standardised, and is going to expect that when you switch feeds, you want to switch both video and audio to the new feed. Those feeds are similarly going to be configured to expect audio coming from the same source as the video (i.e. the integrated camera)

      It’s going to be possible, of course, to substitute other feeds, but this would take effort, so the path of least resistance will be to have the helicopter audio with the images. Of course, this is also preferable for people like me, that have a more rounded sensory perception – that is, I get somewhat distanced from the subject if the audio doesn’t match the video (for example, even though it’s very boring, I like having the sound on in zwift, even though it’s just a monotonous drone of wheel noises that drives everyone else around up the wall)

    • Think you were asking this in the Tour de France too? The sound of the helicopter is piped in, it’s a soundtrack, you can here the even tone despite the aircraft moving around, different weather etc. They need some ambient sound, just as the motos have microphones too.

    • I swear the helicopter noise is getting louder – it’s almost as loud as the commentators now.
      For me, it’s totally unnecessary – we know it’s a helicopter and I don’t care if it’s a hot-air balloon – but if they must have it couldn’t they turn it down a bit? I find it very wearing. (They could also turn down the noise on the ground – it’s mostly only motorbike noise anyway.)

  5. Riders crashing out is always a difficult watch. There is an inherent risk in racing on public roads which no amount of safety protocols can remove. I cant think of another sport where broken bones seem to be such a regular and accepted part of the sport. One thing that has always struck me with racing accidents is the sense of time moving on, in most sports where there is an injured athlete everything stops. Whereas in bike racing, except for very rare exceptions, the race disappears into the distance with the injured left behind in a pile on the road.

    Seems like a pretty open outcome for today. The GC riders might want to snipe for a few seconds but cant see them wanting to put in big efforts with no great reward in prospect. Alessandro De Marchi and his team are going to be highly motivated to keep the pink jersey, keep it today and it is probably theirs until Sunday.

    • Smaller pelotons, no pan-flat stages… Anything but stages like yesterday Sorry for sprinters and their sprint domestiques, but their kind of cycling offers more danger and yawning than anything else. They’ll have to recycle themselves.

    • Almost all traffic island accidents seem to be because the rider doesn’t see the obstacle until the last minute. Ergo, stick something fluorescent and 3m high on top of the obstacle.
      There was something like this in Flanders this year, plus that Norwegian guy’s flashing signs. It’s pretty scandalous that nothing is done about this.

      • They have a guy in a day-glo vest waving a flag…what more can you do to make stuff like this visible? I have to admit if I was out there waving a flag, it would be from BEHIND the obstacle rather than in front of it.
        When you’re talking about 200 riders all on the same road at the same time it’s almost a miracle this doesn’t happen more often, but my complaint is having them race around a city full of this junk with a sprint finish at the end of it is just asking for crashes and injuries.
        The riders should be complaining to their union’s course-safety guy (who should review these things while there’s still time to fix them) instead of whining about it after the fact on social-media or throwing tantrums like they did last year on Stage 19. W Il Giro!

        • Higher things can be seen from further away. There’d be a cost, but considering the health implications that cost should be met, in my opinion.

      • In general terms, I agree, but this time it wasn’t really the problem. The road was very wide (at that’s *precisely* why there was a separation in the middle of it – the other option might have been using just half of it). The obstacle was perfectly visible from the front to whomever could and should really see it – as the man in question actually did! Dombrowski, in a situation like that, just as most of the peloton (and rightly so) isn’t watching much further and above, he’s following wheels and checking with lateral vision what’s happening just around him, that is, the focus is on other high-speed moving objects rather than on the context.

        That said, high-visibility 3m high signal look a good idea, just as improving the course characteristics. Sadly, there are some money-related aspects factoring in.

        • One final thing (I promise!) on this is the “Get to the front!” the riders hear in their earpiece. Races have been run on roads with plenty of road furniture (though there’s no argument there’s more now) over the years but are the crashes increasing because everyone’s all crammed together trying to “Get to the front”? Anyone who has ever ridden in a tight pack knows how quickly the rider in front of you can swerve and leave you to run into the hole or other obstacle you see only after it’s too late!
          On another subject, anyone else seen the Renault TV spot with the old guy on the bike being cheered on by his family/friends in the car? They show an old photo of a racer in a Renault jersey…is it supposed to be the same guy years later? If so, who is he?

    • Many of the comments flying around about this are of the “sprint finishes are too dangerous” variety but the crashes yesterday were before the 3km marker and the twisty urban finish. Stating the obvious but roads are not designed with bike racing in mind and increasingly road planners are deliberately putting obstacles in roads to slow down traffic to make then safer for pedestrians and (non racing!) cyclists. Yes you can improve the signage (though it costs money which is not exactly in abundance in most races) but there will always be an element of risk racing on public roads.

  6. any news on the guy they actually hit?

    that job must be quite unnerving at times, having a peloton barrel down on you, splitting around you (or not) at the last minute…

    • According to Twitter, he seems to be okay. It was a glaze and he got up straight away. He also wore a motorcycle helmet as a member of the motor marshals team.

  7. I felt really sorry for Landa yesterday. The crash looked painful and he was obviously hurt. The timing also seemed particularly cruel as it was only 24 hours earlier that he looked so good. It’s a shame for him and a shame for us, everyone likes watching a pure climber in top form. Some things are just destined not to happen, and Landa winning a Grand Tour seems to be one of them unfortunately.

    • He probably acted as the human landing pad for Joe, and the reason why Joe didn’t break any bones.

      If it was true that a UAE rider piloted their leader into the marshal, UAE really needs to do some group riding drills. Maybe Pog got himself isolated on purpose in the Tour to stay away from his colleagues.

      • As I commented on the previous stage thread, there’s a RAI video still available (now low-res) on Twitter, for example at flammerouge16. Have a look. Pretty clear to me. Of course, the man didn’t intend to do that, but he completely failed to judge how much space was needed for his teammate to also pass through at that speed. Probably substantial lack of experience as a pilot man in a frantic flat finish – which is pretty obvious if you look at their startlist. Either they devoted Molano or Richeze to do that work instead of keeping ’em around Gaviria, and was it so that would be a surprising mistake by the rider (well, Molano already did one before, as we know), or none of the rest was actually apt for such a hard work. And I’d really exclude Molano or Richeze because they actually came in 20th-30th or so (but who knows).

        • Well, I was just going to say that an experienced Ineos pilot like Luke Rowe would never make that sort of mistakes. Then I realised they just rode their co-leader Sivakov into a tree a few Ks up the road.

  8. Looks like one of those days where there’s a huge list of contenders – beyond the names above there are a decent number of climbers low on GC who could target today (Fabbro, Gallopin, Carr, Caicedo?). Otherwise, could Bilbao have a go out of a GC group to provide some better news for Bahrain?

    • +1 Dumoulin: very happy to read he is coming back.
      Sad too about Landa, everyrhing is said above, but he looked well in good shape. Too bad.

    • Ineos briefly forcing echelons on a fairly stiff climb isn’t something I was expecting to see this morning. Quite amusing watching everyone panic behind though.

      • Indeed. Tuesday and today stages were entertaining and surely shaped the race much more than one could expect for stage 3 or 5, yet I’m afraid that my concerns about the dominant course structure for this edition’s stages are proving themselves legitimate enough. Many options for strategic racing, which are duly being taken advantage of, making for selective finales even on 2nd category climbs – yet, not that much action among the favourites. Even if, it must be said, there’s already been much more selection than in harder first week stages of previous years.

      • True, but there’s so much unknown over Bernal, which makes it actually entertaining when Ineos try to use their team strength to put everyone on a rope.

        They didn’t manage to damage Romeco (bar that 6 second bounce). Surly they’d need to distance him by a fair margin before the final time trial. Can they do it on harder climbs? Would time trial difference between Egan and Romero be smaller after 3 weeks?

        Shapes out to be an entertaining Giro for sure.

  9. My annual complaint: why can’t RAI get their pictures to work in heavy rain? Doesn’t seem to happen to the TV in other countries anywhere near as often.
    My other annual complaint: how is the parade down the finishing straight of ‘lovely ladies’ in the jerseys still happening? Embarrassingly sexist.

    • Lots of local fans also complaining – for *both* epic fails. As you also note, it’s now *years*. At no use. Does RCS consider these things sort of *traditional* only because they come across as soooo much behind the times (quite terribly indeed)? -___-

    • Yours is an interesting complaint, especially when I think back to someone’s claim the TV stuff was all done by some generic outfit that does TdF as well. I didn’t believe that then and don’t believe it now but wonder if the other races you consider superior with TV coverage have anywhere near the amount of inclement weather as La Corsa Rosa?
      Helicopters sometimes can’t fly in bad weather (Kobe Bryant’s unfortunate demise might ring a bell?) and the signals get screwed up (I think, though I’m far from an expert) in the same way your TV dish on the roof of your house isn’t always 100% perfect.
      What I’m waiting for is the punishment for the totally inexcusable driving of whoever was behind the wheel of that Bike Exchange car today. IMHO there is simply NO excuse for hitting a rider – NONE.
      Not only should the driver’s license to operate any vehicle in a UCI race caravan be torn up, the car should be banned from the race caravan no matter who is behind the wheel for the rest of the Giro. The team can keep using the car for whatever else they want and that guy can even drive it…but under no circumstances should it be allowed back on the course. Patrick Lefevere must (or should) be furious.

      • I’ve seen plenty of rain in the other grand tours (for instance) and the TV signal is not as badly affected. I’ve no idea why.

        I read someone only this morning saying (as many of us have in the past) that they should have one person driving and another person talking to the riders. Why have one person doing both of those things?

        • OK, remind me next time the weather at LeTour is like this so I can check on your claim of French TV superiority. Just don’t try to tell me they know how to cook pasta! 🙂

    • Inrng was speculating on Twitter that RAI use a helicopter to pass on the feed from the various cameras rather than a fixed wing aircraft as in the TdF. Choppers are much more vulnerable to bad weather, especially poor visibility whereas fixed wing aircraft can climb above much of the low cloud etc, it is generally only thunderstorms that cause problems. It is not uncommon to lose the chopper feeds but keep them from the bikes.

      • RAI also uses the aircraft, sometimes the troubles depend on the sort of terrain which the race travels through, quite different from France even in the case of both GTs facing mountains. Still, I’m not fully convinced… can’t they really do anything better? (serious question)

        • They’ve used aircraft before… but think this year have two helicopters now and one is the video link (think a pilot in the front seat on the right and the rest of the aircraft is full with broadcast equipment except for one guy crammed in the back left). Could be wrong but single source helicopter chat says this.

        • “Still, I’m not fully convinced… can’t they really do anything better? (serious question)”
          By THEY I assume you mean Italians? I’ll resist the temptation to make a list for you about the land of Guglielmo Marconi but admit that RAI TV might be like Italian plumbing..many times I think that peaked here back in the Roman era 🙂

  10. Ciccone uses all that energy attacking, then holds on at the end… and then loses 2 seconds because he was fiddling with his computer instead of keeping up properly with the other three. Cuh.

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