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.
|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.