A trip up the coast and a likely sprint finish, a blogger’s rest day with a route so obvious there’s more to say about citrus fruits than the coastal course.
Si si, Nono: the route had one big climb and Alpecin-Fenix, UAE and Intermarché got to work with a pace that dropped many sprinters. Ewan (a mechanical), Cavendish, then Démare all popped. Démare though was dropped towards the top and so had less of a gap to close and he made it back on although his leadout man Jacopo Guarnieri blew a gasket here and couldn’t make it to Messina with him. Ramon Sinkeldam though was worth two riders and dropped off Démare in just the right place.
Among all the big name sprinters in the sport, Arnaud “Nono” Démare was the only one without a win this year and he’s now got it. He’s not necessarily the fastest sprinter, in track and field he’d be more a 400m runner than a 100m sprinter but in cycling it’s all so different given the requirement to run a marathon before sprinting. Each day. He’s now in the points jersey with a lead over Biniam Girmay.
The day also saw Vincenzo Nibali announce he’d be hanging up his wheels at the end of the season. He’s a name in Italy but not a star, his face doesn’t appear on breakfast cereal packets, perhaps because he’s had a tendency for self-deprecation rather than self-aggrandisation. But you can make a case that nobody in the peloton has a palmarès as broad as his with all three grand tours, two Monuments and more. La Gazzetta Dello Sport devotes three pages and an editorial to him today.
The Route: 192km up the coast along the SS18 road, the Tirrena Inferiore. The Giro has darted inland when in this area to add some spice but not today, it’s the the coastal road all day, even the early climb is on the highway.
There’s little more to add, the stage is branded “riviera dei cedri” by the race in a tribute to the cedro, the citron that’s not a lemon but a still a sour citrus fruit. The coast is big on alternative citrus fruit, often grown for perfumes, or bergamot which for English readers goes in your Earl Grey tea, and for Italians they grow lots of citrus myrtifolia or chinotto, the ingredient for Campari and the Chinotto (“kin-otto”) soft drink that sort of an Italian version of cola, there’s a hint of citrus in it but overwhelming it’s a bitter taste, a boiled artichoke reduction that’s carbonated. In short there’s more to say about fruit than the route today.
The Finish: a straight road into Scalea and flat too.
The Contenders: a dragstrip finish evokes Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step) again, the best in Baltonfüred but we’ve still not got a hierarchy to the sprints. Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) needs a win soon and has the pedigree to win. Fernando Gaviria (UAE) was blaming his bike after a high cadence sprint, as if he couldn’t get into top gear but there’s also a structural problem as his bike just requires more watts to ride at a high speed than others, a French website synthesising Tour Magazin’s bike tests recently described his bike as gouffre à watts, a “wattage sinkhole” which does evoke poetic licence but at 70km/h and 1,500W there’s a point, it’s harder to pick him. Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) is going to be more confident now.
|Mark Cavendish, Caleb Ewan|
|Gaviria, Bauhaus, MvdP, Girmay|
Weather: sunny and with a slight tailwind, and only 20°C.
TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST.