Giro d’Italia Stage 7 Preview

A day along the coast with a sting in the tail in Termoli.

Gino Made It: with Mikel Landa down and out, two of his helpers in Gino Mäder and Matej Mohorič went in the breakaway with hopes of turning things around. It was a plan more than a hope, Mohorič was the workhorse and they split the breakaway over the Forca di Presta to form a quartet on the descent to Ascoli.

Behind Ineos split the bunch across the Monti Sibellini, Ganna was taking big pulls but it didn’t deliver much directly, no arch rivals were caught out or eliminated. But it made the race more lively and set up a tense finish and race leader Alessandro de Marchi was on the wrong side of the split, his spell in pink over.

Mohorič pulled over when he could pull no more, and Mäder won with a clear attack that left Mollema and Cataldo standing. This only came after hours of hard racing, part of this saw Mollema chasing to get across to the breakaway in an intense effort that must have cost him, another part was the work by Mohorič to help tow the group. Mäder won with 12 seconds to spare on the line and a share of them down to Mohorič.

Atilla Valter started the day a minute down on GC wearing the white jersey but is now in the maglia rosa after he matched Yates and Vlasov on the final climb. It’s Groupama-FDJ’s first time in pink since Bradley McGee in 2004 and Valter the first Hungarian to lead the race and on his way to surpass László Bodrogi as the country’s best cyclist. Valter makes the perfect leader of the Giro for many right now, a very good rider but a clothes horse for those with bigger GC ambitions. Remco Evenepoel is just 11 seconds behind on GC but his team won’t want the burden of race leadership just yet. Evenpoel impressed, as did Bernal again, and Ciccone. Yates wasn’t being dropped but he just seemed unable to respond, in two mid-mountain stages he’s lost 33 seconds to Bernal, the kind of finishes were he would normally look to be outsmarting Bernal. After João Almeida and George Bennett on Stage 4, yesterday it was Jai Hindley’s turn to see their hopes for GC punctured, he lost over two minutes.

The Route: 181km and hilly along the way with 1,800 of vertical gain including the climb to Chieti and more. The race reaches the coast for the final 80km but darts inland for some climbing at times but it’s on wider roads and shouldn’t ruin things for the sprinters.

The Finish: after a long procession along the coast it’s into Termoli and after the 2km to go point the road funnels, it gets narrower and narrower. Then the road flicks right with and turns into a short “wall” climb, it’s only 150m long at 12% but crucial as there’s a sharp right hander into it to slow things and the slope steals momentum. Those caught behind can flounder. The road levels out and it’s around town for a dash to the line via a bridge over the railway line (more climbing, just) and then it there’s a slight rise to the line.

The Contenders: with a bit more climbing and a grittier finish today’s stage isn’t the usual dragstrip finish we associate with the sprinters. But all the top sprinters in the race can win on hilly days, even the compact Dylan Groenewegen has won uphill sprints in Paris-Nice. The exception is Tim Merlier but he’s got some punch too and so if he hasn’t won an uphill sprint or a dash after a hilly day maybe it’s a matter of time.

Caleb Ewan
Peter Sagan, Giacomo Nizzolo
Gaviria, Viviani, Merlier, Groenewegen

Weather: sunshine but a cool 20°C

TV: the stage starts at 1.00pm and finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST.

77 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 7 Preview”

  1. Yesterday I was impressed by Remco’s composure so far (admittedly, before the race I had lower expectations from him than everyone else). He glued to Bernal’s wheel and he looked in a comfort zone. These two possibly can continue to the final time trail which will make a thriller finish. DQS team is an expert in one day races. Can they handle the pressure of maintaining lead for 3 weeks and winning in a grand tour?

    Great entry as always. One grammar mistake:

    “was on the wrong side of the split, his spell in pink over.”

    • Personally, and it is a point of style, not rule, I think including the “is” would suggest a : as the best option. Not having “is”, our able host has written the sentence well.

      With thanks for this excellent blog and comments which I am enjoying every day. Adding to the enjoyment of a compelling first week of the Giro.

      • As is, it’s called an “absolute,” which allows an unspoken “being.” If our brilliant host added “is” they’d have to make it an independent clause by using a semi-colon or period.

  2. Looks like Evenepoel is riding within himself (relatively speaking) and saving it all for the final week? Maybe Yates is too after ‘18? Sure the weather isn’t helping but it’s shaping up to be a great finale.

    • I can see the point; no point in burning matches to pick back 10 seconds when you might need them later in the race. Does rely on Evenepoel and Bernal not being able to maintain their form, however.

      • I very much doubt Yates would be losing time if he could avoid it. He’d just be sitting on Bernal’s wheel, like Evenepoel has.

    • This one’s probably a bit of subjective personal reading. Given Romero, He would have sprinted if he’s riding within himself. Would he loose time if it was a bit steeper or longer?

      I think he is hanging on, but Bernal is not at the point of dropping him minutes easy yet. Which means it hangs in the balance in terms of how much padding Bernal gets before the ITT at the end. Which is great as it keeps tension to the end.

  3. No mention of the polemics of the day? Lots of yelling on the Giro post-race show about it. I’m happy they tossed the dolt driving the Bike Exchange car but think they should have thrown the car out too, but there’s a bigger issue here – the mania about tossing things away when they’re no longer useful. I understand it’s a more disposable society nowadays with bikes that break into pieces like potato chips (a snarky quote from a bike-maker friend of mine) and all kinds of single-use items but why does it seem nobody can hold onto ANYTHING anymore? The second the sun peaks out the jackets are off, but they can’t be stuffed under the jersey or handed to a gregario? They must be handed off to a car in the caravan or tossed out in a feed zone. Who cares if they might need them again? Then there are the full (or nearly) bottles, food items (not just the wrappers) and general litter. Nobody can carry any of this one kilometer past the time they think it’s useful. It is because they can these days grab another one just down the road? A few years ago I noticed (maybe missed it before?) that team staff were all over the place with bottles and such, no longer just in feed zones or handing stuff out of the car. I think this has increased the trashing of the roadsides to the point the UCI had no choice but to step in. But perhaps they should reduce the giving out of all this stuff as well? When you see riders pouring the contents of a bottle they just took onto the road or tossing the food item they held onto as it was passed to them out of a car, something seems wrong.

    • Perhaps banning riders from giving and taking clothes? Riders would have to carry their whole kit from start to finish, and be wise enough from the beginning about their choice of clothes (rainwear or not, jacket or not, sleeves, base layers, gloves), always running the risk of carrying unnecessary weight or getting too cold.

    • It’s all ‘marginal gains’ isnt it. I’m guessing most of it can be traced to the emergence of Sky. You can’t ride in an open coat because it increases wind resistance and wastes watts that you might need on a summit finish in 2 weeks time. You can’t carry a gram of extra food for the same reason. You can’t risk being thirsty for even a few minutes so have to have the option of a drink every half an hour. You can’t have domestiques wasting energy going for food and drinks at the car if you want them blasting a train up the last climb, better have it handed to them etc etc ad nauseam. As you say, best to ban it.

    • I wasn’t sure what they were on about on the “processo” yesterday, it felt like a debate that didn’t explore the topic much, they were lamenting things like the Bahrain team’s basket used to catch bidons (so they can film it and make social media clips) as against the image of cycling (not epic etc)… by promoting the video of the basket. Trentin had some more sensible points but in between his internet connection drying up and the show coming to an end before he could develop things more that was that.

      Other than that, no polemic: the Bike Exchange car rode into Pieter Serry, a penalty was inevitable. Under the rules in question Bike Exchange are perhaps unlucky to see Bates thrown off, but lucky to keep two cars in convoy, there’s room for debate here. Bates is off the race as in he won’t be driving or given a pass… but he can travel around the Giro and still work with the team etc, it’s not like he’s banished from Italy etc.

      Accidents in the convoy are more regular than we might think, they’re often not filmed though.

      • Some were trying to blame the car running into the rider on the UCI’s ban on tossing stuff. WTF? Same as they did about the big crash that took out Landa, etc. It’s “Well, the UCI is too busy worrying about Rider X giving a souvenir bottle to little Johnny at the roadside, so instead we get this!”
        This time it was the handing back of the jackets to blame, as if the clown behind the wheel can’t look where the hell he’s going while the guy in the other seat grabs the jackets…jackets that the riders should have carried with them instead of tossing ’em away as soon as the sun started to shine.
        I’d LOVE to blame it all on SKY and “marginal gains” but I’m not sure that’s fair, but the entire “disposable” thing is a really bad look for pro cycling, especially now when so many are finally realizing resources are not infinite and taking action.

      • One of the Qhubeka team cars was written off on Wednesday, wasn’t it?

        What isn’t caught by the cameras didn’t happen, as we know, but it’s hardly surprising the cars have mishaps occasionally, travelling so close together at high speed. Running into Serry was inexcusable though: the driver’s sole responsibility should be safety, regardless of what else is happening in the car.

    • I think it’s less about the disposable element. The driver was passing something to the other car – but I don’t get that. I also don’t get why the driver is usually the DS and is also on the radio giving instructions etc – with the guy in the passenger seemingly doing nothing. After 5 hours driving and no break – it’s just dangerous driving.
      Surely the driver should drive, and the only thing he’s allowed to do is drive. Ideally an automatic (or electric?) car so two hands on the wheel.
      I’ve never been in the car clearly so may be missing stuff (eg change of drivers after 2 hours?) – but the way it works at present just increases risks of a big metal object hitting a bike

      • Sorry – might need to scrap my thoughts above if the wheel is on the other side of the car…..I presumed it was the driver leaning out of the car

        • But you do still have a point: we’ve all seen in-car shots of the driver talking on the radio to the riders while the person in the passenger seat does nothing.
          It’s a very simple rule: Only the passenger is allowed to talk on the radio.
          Might actually be an uncontroversial rule for once – although someone would probably find something.
          We all know it’s dangerous to talk into a device while we drive.

          • There had been studies showing that talking on phone hands free (the radio’s not even hands free) is not as safe as talking to your passengers. Reason being that passenger sees what’s on the road and would stop if they see the driver is dealing with difficult situations.

      • “Surely the driver should drive, and the only thing he’s allowed to do is drive. Ideally an automatic (or electric?) car so two hands on the wheel.”


        The DS with one or no hands on the wheel doing just about everything that is possible to do while driving is tradition and has become part of the charm of pro cycling , I guess. But given not only these accidents but pro cycling’s role in promoting road cycling as a safe, convenient and environmentally friendly form of transportation and training, it seems irresponsible of the sport to reproduce over and over again images of the last kind of driver a recreational cyclist would want to meet on the road. Trained convoy drivers that drive and nothing else – e.g. no interaction whatsoever with riders/commissaries etc. – is a pretty obvious solution IMO.

      • UCI chauffeurs with peaked caps. The only thing they do is drive and use a hands free intercom. With one less seat in the car there would be less room for all the disposables. Make riders responsible for their apparel with kit inspections after the finish, where all items must be present – and make its weight part of the UCI minimum for bikes by adding ‘and rider equipment’. This is what F1 does.
        With chip timing there’s all sorts of stuff you can do with rider stops for kit change or feeds, where you must make a stop at the allotted place or take a time pemalty after the line.
        OK maybe I was joking about the peaked caps.

        • Kit inspections at the finish: all stand in line. And if someone misses an item, he has to go fetch it. everyone else has to do pushups until hes back with the proper things. Could be aired live after the race as additional content. A whole new kind of audience could be azztracted like that!

  4. Greenedge are now a DS down after Bates exclusion for the inexcusable running down of Pieter Serry. That won’t help Yates who must be concerned at his inability to match Evenepoel and Bernal, while his pained face hardly indicates managing resources. The charm of three week tours is that things change, form can build and dissipate…

    • I want Simon Yates to win but its not been a good week for him. Looks laboured – I don’t blame him in the freezing wet and cold.

  5. I was very impressed with Evenepoel yesterday. He looked silky smooth, in a slightly bigger gear than everyone else with their more frantic ‘spinning’. That approach best exemplified by the rag doll in a washing machine style of Dan Martin. That’s before we talk about the faces he was pulling.

    • He has been looking good. But it needs to be qualified. He’s never ridden a three-week tour and he’s never ridden high mountains (often multiple climbs on a stage). I’m reserving judgement – same for Simon Yates!

    • I was musing on Evenepoel and DQS yesterday and their approach to this race now.
      Do they ride a purely defensive race and, potentially, allow Evenepoel to take perhaps a minute or more out of Bernal in the final TT?
      That’s all things being equal and a straight extrapolation from the opening day TT but, as we know, the Giro doesn’t work like that.
      It’s interesting. For all Ineos’ show of team strength so far, I’m not convinced that they can replicate this on the high peaks, hence maybe they’re trying to do a Chris Froome and grab what seconds whenever they can.
      It’s a story that will slowly unfold day-by-day I guess.

      • It’s kind of the story of the new Ineos/Sky. They have the best team but not the best rider, if Evenepoel can do a Pogacar here. They went crazy looking for riders on the top of mountains in the Andes and forgot to look under their noses.

        • Evenepoel is such a huge name in Belgian even at such a young age and with not that huge a list of wins for his profile that i suspect his current team can raise extra cash to keep him.
          Belgium sponsors will pony up extra because of the currently guaranteed exposure.

  6. On the Bike Exchange thing, surely the commissionaire car had some responsibility. It was the driver with their hand out of the car talking to Matt White, surely they should have seen Peter Serry too? I doubt anything is being done about that.

    I am sure Simon Yates is playing the long game after his previous experience, the seconds lost are potentially small in comparison to the time that could be gained on some of the other stages. However not sure losing seconds here and there is good strategy.

    The loss of Pavel Sivakov could become an issue for Ineos. Pippo Ganna & Gianni Moscon are very strong riders but not when the gradient really goes up. That only leaves Dani Martinez as a climbing gregario compared to the two Remco Evenepoel has.

    • Watch the overhead video – the organizer car is not in danger of hitting anyone. Is the driver of that car supposed to drive BikeExchange’s car too?
      I know someone who used to drive the race jury at the Giro, he prided himself on his skills and was crestfallen one year when he merely scratched the car on a roadside wall!
      I’ve driven in race caravans myself, it can be done with a radio microphone in one hand, IMHO it’s the rest of the distractions and lack of professionalism to blame. When I did it the rule was NEVER hit a rider! Never! Wreck or damage the car, scare the s__t out of the passengers, spill the drinks, shear the bikes off the roof if you have to, but NEVER, EVER, EVER hit a rider.
      Now I fear that car will be driven by someone with less experience or professionalism, which is why I thought the UCI should remove it from the caravan entirely.

      • They may not have been in danger of hitting a rider themselves, but they were complicit in the BE car being in a position where it was in danger of doing so, for an extended time, with a distracted driver.

  7. Bernal’s ride yesterday didn’t make great sense to me. Seems like he’s got great legs, but is just a little too keen to prove it! OK, he put time into Yates etc, 17 seconds, but what about the three guys on his wheel? They’re the stronger competitors and he never even asked for a turn.

    Anyway, everyone’s expecting hubris from Remco, but he looked more tactically mature than Bernal for mine yesterday. With one caveat: If he was as comfortable as he looked why didn’t he take some bonus seconds?

    • I thought that Egan Bernal was keen to push on but he saw the others with him didnt want to help so knocked it off and just took the 6 seconds. In reality it was probably not difficult enough for them to take any significant time over the last few hundred metres. Have to wait until Sunday to get more insight.

    • Winning the ‘great legs but too keen to show it’ contest is definitely Ciccone. He’s barely sat still yet. He’s racing like he almost can’t believe himself how good he is.

      • And then didn’t even have the sense to ensure that he finished on the same time as the others. He was looking around and playing with his computer, lost the wheel and thus two seconds.

        • Sloppy yes but it did not look like two seconds to me.

          Otoh what was the break with bettiol and bardet all about?

          • The time gap is counted from the first rider, so Ciccone only has to be >1 second behind the last guy and he then is timed by how much he is behind the guy who was in the lead of that group.
            So, even though you might only be – for example – 1.5 seconds behind the last rider in a line, you can lose 20 seconds (as happened to riders today).

    • Bernal is steadily gaining time on many of his rivals, particularly Yates, who was seen by many as one of the two top favourites.
      Evenepoel didn’t take the sprint because Bernal was the strongest of that group, winning the sprint even though he’d taken all the wind since his attack.

  8. Unfortunately for the GC contest, Bernal looks considerably superior to the rest and so does his team compared with all others. I reckon only his back or similar catastrophe is likely to stop him.

    • Or Remco somehow hanging on in there for 2 weeks and then blitzing the last time trial. Unlikely I know but possible.

    • You saw another last 3 km’s than I did if you say so. Bernal seemed not able to get rid of Ciccone, Evenepoel and Martin. Evenepoel’s CHOICE not to attack or take over at the flamme rouge was clearly annoying Bernal. Luckily a lot GC contest to come and it doesn’t seem Ineos can make it as boring as the tour, during the Sky times (or Indurain or Armstrong for that matter).
      I am looking forward to the battles.

      • I think Evenepoel sensibly refused to take a turn because it was straight into the wind – hence Bernal being unable to drop anyone.

        • Exactly. Notable headwind, which makes Bernal’s ride even more significant, despite the relatively small consequences. As others said, probably a little to keen to show off or prove (himself) that he’s fine again.

          Yet, I wouldn’t underestimate the importance, at the Giro, to push even “secondary” potential rivals back away from the top when they’re vulnerable.
          Ineos and Bernal (and Landa with Bahrain) already made this couple of middle-mountain stages quite selective, much more than the standard 6-7 first stages.

          This isn’t the Tour de France or the Vuelta, where the GC top ten, albeit with some change in order, stays more or less since the first uphill stage through the three weeks. Tao, Carapaz, Froome were far from looking top favourites after a week, and Nibali in 2016 went on losing more and more such a status… until the very last mountain stages.
          Of course, as many times whoever tops (“virtual”) GC from scratch goes on fighting for the final victory – yet, it’s way less common than in the other GTs.

          • Only Bernal attacked. He couldn’t drop the three others because it was a headwind, so it was much easier for them to simply ride on his wheel (or he didn’t want to use the energy to do so). They couldn’t come past him for the same reason: headwind.
            Bernal kept going in order to still have a gap on Yates et al.
            Bernal then rode in the wind until the line, using far more energy than the others, and then he still won the sprint even though he’d done far more work at the end of the stage.
            Thus, Bernal showed how strong he is at the moment, even though he gained little.

      • Looked like a headwind up the climb prevented any strong attacks. Dan Martin was going to go, but then looked like he realised how strong the wind was and dropped back in to the group

    • Oh, come on, it’s waaaay too early for the ‘this race is over’ hopelessness 😉

      I give even weighting to Bernal’s back as Evenepoel’s unproven status. And if we extrapolate from the prologue to the final TT, then we can expect Evenepoel to take a minute on Bernal on stage 21. So Bernal needs to attack Remco, not vice versa. If Bernal keeps riding like yesterday and RE can follow like he did today, then Remco wins à la Pogačar.

      OK, there’s the question about Remco in the high mountains. That’s going to be interesting, but on a watts per kg basis he’s more than a match for Bernal over a 30 min effort… let’s see what happens over 60 mins.

      Then there’s the team. No doubt, Ineos are strong, but they’re a man down and I’ve been impressed with the Deceuninck domestiques – Masnada looks a match for Martinez, Knox is riding really strongly and then there’s Almeida. Ineos has the train, but if Martinez is their weapon to send up the road and make people cover, he’s going to have to do more than he did yesterday.

      • I’m far from declaring a winner – (or descending into a state of hopelessness ;o) – but Bernal is proven over high mountains and over three weeks, whereas Evenepoel isn’t. It’s possible that Evenepoel is good enough to stay with Bernal on the big climbs, I just don’t personally think it’s likely. And the Ineos train was in full effect yesterday.
        You make a lot of good points – DQS do have a good team, Bernal’s back could go at any time and Evenepoel may be able to follow. One thing, though, Evenepoel’s stage race wins are in minor races where other riders are often either not yet that fit or not really trying. So, for me, Evenepoel has not yet shown that he’s can match Bernal over a 30 min effort.

        • With the uncertainty around Bernal and Evenepoel, I think (and hope) we might be in for some surprises. I don’t think that yesterday is a true reflection of pecking order and that it’s still quite likely that Yates and Vlasov will eventually finish ahead of Ciccone and Martin.

          And, just for the moment, think Bernal looks more keen than dominant… I couldn’t imagine Chris Froome during his dominance burning matches so early in a GT unless there was more reward for the effort ie dropping everyone!

  9. Perhaps a naive suggestion but wouldn’t it be safer if the DS wasn’t the driver?From what Ive seen in behind the scenes films like the Ronde Treasures the convoy is chaotic and seems to require 100%attention to just drive, never mind the myriad activities carried out at the same time.

    • He might be called a DS but he really is the driver. The main DS is matthew white who i presume was not driving which is why he only got the fine. Whitey is the DS calling the shots and watching what goes on.
      I don’t know why the riders needed to get rid of the rain jacket so bad they hand it to the race directors car in any case. Put it in your back pocket (which they are designed to be capable of), give it to your own DS when you get water or just unzip it if you need to cool down a bit. The weight penalty from something so light could hardly be measured in across the final few km’s. The guys seem to cause themselves more troubles putting them on and off then just leaving them on.

      • I can see why the riders might want to get rid of their jackets as soon as possible, using the commissionaires’ car if that’s the one available. Especially if one domestique has already been given his team-mates’ jackets to look after: he can’t fit them all in his jersey pocket.

        What i don’t understand is why the team needed the jackets back there and then. Or, alternatively, why the commissionaires decided they had to return the jackets then. Either way, it could have waited till the stage finish.

    • Not naive, just way to f@#king sensible for pro cycling.

      Can you imagine if a football manager had to do their job whilst navigating a vehicle through the convoy? And then being certain that this actually improves their decision making!?

    • It’s changed, a DS is often sat in the passenger seat now to call the shots, with an assistant doing the driving. But not always in all teams and the assistant is not a chauffeur, they’re also thinking about the race, maybe on the radio etc, handing food out of the window to riders dropping back etc.

      • Ok, I didn’t realize that. I think it would make good sense for the driver to be responsible solely for navigating safely, but not sure how you’d police that other than having trained 3rd party drivers

    • If you watch quick step in ronde treasures, peeters is driving and steels is on the radio. They are the best double act in cycling.

  10. Why not make it a rule that the driver of the car cannot use the radio or pass items through the window ? I’m amazed there aren’t more accidents with the teams cars , most of them are obviously very skillful and experienced drivers but asking them to do 3 or 4 things at once is a bit much

    • There are rules about not driving into riders too… but it still happens. Not to be too sarcastic though, you’d need more commissaires driving around the convoy to police things. The convoy is a risky place, drivers do get training but many a DS who drives for the first time is a nervous wreck at the end of the day.

      • Got a chuckle from this. As you say, the convoy is a risky place, as is the peloton even when no cars are around. I’m sure every one of us here has gone down on a bicycle more than once, despite trying to ride safely and minimize risks. And that’s when not racing. Likewise, most of us have hit something while driving a car, even it it wasn’t a full-on car crash. There’s an inherent, and like irresolvable, tension between aggressive bike racing, and pervasive safety. None of that is to belittle efforts to make racing safer, but to agree that mistakes and accidents will happen.

        • ‘I’m sure every one of us here has gone down on a bicycle more than once’ – people on this site do seem very keen on their bikes.

      • Here’s a thorough white-wash of the story
        The author fails here to distinguish crashing some cars together vs hitting a totally unprotected racer on his bike and tries (as usual) to blame it on the UCI since they called the car up there so they could return the jackets. How does that excuse Gene Bates from paying attention to WTF he’s supposed to be doing? I’m surprised the author didn’t work in some reference to no longer being able to give little Gianni a bottle during the race.

        • To be fair, the Qubeka DS was probably committing the same sin of eyes not on the road when he drives into the back of another teamcar. Shouldn’t he also be expelled?

          On a seperate note, that roof full of BMCs, are they still safe to ride even if there are no visual defects? Could be hidden cracks. Would a machanic have to tap around all the frames and listen for the cracks?

          • “…when he drives into the back of another teamcar. Shouldn’t he also be expelled?” Perhaps, but my argument is still “wreck the car(s) shear the bikes off the roof, etc” but NEVER, EVER, ever hit a rider!” and in that case no rider was hit though I don’t know what excuse was given for the collision – probably something about the UCI rules preventing Lil’ Gianni from being able to get a bottle from his hero?:-)

  11. Strange when there was a chance for all four to increase their lead, but only Bernal did the work into the headwind. They could’ve taken 30+ secs if they worked together instead of hugging Bernal’s wheel. Poor show from the three behind Bernal

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