A big day in the Apennines on roads where the Giro seldom ventures. This is a day many will have marked for the breakaway while the GC contenders will hope to avoid any traps.
Piano piano: the flag dropped and nobody attacked, not even a Drone Hopper. Magnus Cort tried a mock move, Pascal Eenkhoorn and Bauke Mollema made another spoof attack, the peloton was laughing about actually attacking. But the Giro, especially with live TV from the start, requires an attack, if only to allow the TV production to cut back and forth. Diego Rosa of invited team Eolo-Kometa drew the short straw and went up the road.
We got the promised sprint and Mark Cavendish looked to be dropped off perfectly into position only for Caleb Ewan to gain ground and then suddenly Arnaud Démare came around. But who won? It required a photofinish to show the tiniest of margins in favour of Démare. He’d gone around his leadout via the barriers, passed a slowing Morkov and then launched his sprint to get around Ewan. He can do it all, he grows vegetables with biodynamic methods at home, he can fold a napkin into a penis shape, and now he becomes the most prolific French stage winner in the Giro.
Ewan was so close that perhaps his time will come next, Cavendish was in the mix and in fourth was the consistent Biniam Girmay, we’re starting to see a clear pattern with these four consistently ahead of the rest. The Eritrean needs a harder stage to thrive and he should served with Saturday’s course in Napoli.
The Route: a quick parade along the coast before turning inland at Maratea, a scenic town with a giant Rio de Janeiro-style Christ statue above. The Passo Colla (literally “glue pass”, you don’t want to get stuck here) has a brief steep start before being a steady big ring climb of 4% to the top, a breakaway can go here but it’s hard to jump away, it’ll still be worth being on a wheel.
Monte Sirino comes next, a long trek to the top but with few steep gradients, it’s a small country road with a wild feel, in the middle of nowhere and barely used by the Giro, the race hasn’t been there this century and a faster descent, past Fontana d’Eboli but the peloton won’t stop.
The Montagna Grande di Viggiano is the hardest climb of the day, 6km at 9% towards a small ski station. There’s still a long way to go so it’s not quite a launchpad for the stage win but a chance for the climbers to make life hard for the others.
Next comes an unmarked climb, it’s not too hard and there’s an exposed section over the top before a descent and La Sellata, a proper climb again but rarely more than 6% and a quick drop down to the city of Potenza for the finish. Altogether it’s a hard stage with a lot of vertical gain but nothing fierce so it makes it accessible to many.
The Finish: the town of Potenza’s an unusual place, a mountain city where escalators and elevators are public transport, it’s even got one of the world’s longest escalators. Trivia? Sure but it tells us about the town, it’s hilly but with modern infrastructure, this is no medieval bastion, think appartment blocks rather than ramparts. So after circling around town on some hilly but wide roads, the stage ends with a sharp climb to the line but it’s all on a regular road.
The Contenders: a big day for the breakaway and if anyone has an eye on the mountains jersey, here’s a chance to grab it as Monte Sirino alone offers 40 points to the first rider over the top and current leader Lennard Kämna is on 43 points. There should be a scrap to get in the move while behind teams like Ineos and Bike Exchange don’t need to control things if there’s no danger up the road. It’s one of those “wheel of fortune” days where strong riders should get away but there’s a degree of luck to get in the right move and today’s picks feel like little more than suggestions…
Alessandro De Marchi (Israel) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) are perpetual breakaway candidates but no word on the form. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) ought to be too but he’s been deployed to tow the peloton on sprint stages so team mates Matthew Holmes, Sylvain Moniquet and Harm Vanhoucke might go away but they don’t win much between them.
Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) is down on GC but not out. Fellow long-limbed Limburger Wout Poels (Bahrain) is well down on GC and a candidate too. Astana are stage-hunting now so Vincenzo Nibali could launch a raid but he might still prefer a full mountain stage with faster descents, Valerio Conti or Vadim Pronskiy can try as well.
As much as this is a climbing day, someone might still need to sprint for the win from a group so Magus Cort (EF Education), Diego Ulissi or Alessandro Covi (UAE) and Lorenzo Rota (Intermarché) come to mind.
Any GC contenders? More likely the breakaway stays clear but if there’s a move it’ll have to come from a strong team, think Ineos but how to prise the race open here?
|Diego Ulissi, Bauke Mollema|
|Nibali, De Marchi, Covi, Cort, Rota, Conti, Poels|
Weather: a sunny day but not hot, typically 20-22°C
TV: the stage starts at 11.40am and finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST. Tune in from 3.15pm for the hard Viggiano climb.
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The photo suggests that Ewan was beaten by Démare’s longer arms!
Almost, literally the bike throw at the end by Demare.
I thought that Cavendish could have had that but went slightly too early, a few seconds only but equivalent to maybe 30 – 50 metres?
Perhaps that final slight turn threw the calculation, he could probably see the top of finishing inflatable arch but it was further away than anticipated around that turn?
It just shows you though, a twitch on the reflexes and you’re out by tens of metres.
This is a good sprint battle between the three, it’s very finely balanced.
We were watching the finish together with my son and indeed we could not see who won. My money went to Ewan, his to Demare. After few tense waiting moments, Demare started to celebrate and my son was like – “I have told you!” 🙂 But I told him, just wait for the photo… and indeed photo showed that nobody could see live who is the winner, really tiny margin, so he was rather seeing the higher Demare’s speed in the moment, obvious as he had to make bike length since appearing on the wind from behind. The photo was fantastic, both riders outstretched with saddles before their laps, even Ewan’s head before Demare’s but still longer limbs… great finish.
Mørkøv (and therefore Cavendish) were forced to launch early because the previous rider in their train – Van Lerberghe I think – was completely taken out by a Cofidis rider just as we starting to wind up. That forced Mørkøv to have to make up a big gap because of the disruption, and start from further out and a slower initial speed.
That’s not to take anything away from Démare or Ewan, who were blameless. But effectively Ewan (who was on Cav’s wheel) got the leadout that Cavendish should have got, and launched from where Cav might otherwise have gone had Quickstep still had Van Lerberghe in their line.
I think Demare was very impressive in getting into a winning position. There was a point where he was boxed in, which seemed to lose him some momentum, yet he managed to calmly manoeuvre out of that spot and relaunch his sprint. A big contrast to Gaviria.
I think it’s also a contrast with Cavendish, who rarely seems to win if his amazing lead out train doesn’t deliver him perfectly. There was some excitement after his stage three victory that perhaps he could earn his way to the TdF against all odds, but I suspect his whiffing on stages 5 and 6, and Jacobsen going 2 out of 3 in Hongrie, means any changes to the TdF startlist for QS will take something as extraordinary as happened last year.
Exactly my conclusion. Interesting that a sprinter would be penalised for wildly deviating from their line, but not leadout men. Is there any rule about this?
It doesn’t detract from Démare’s win… a great sprint, and nice to see a proper contest between these three.
That makes sense, grazi.
Cavendish may also have gone slightly early because he could sense Dainese coming fast on the outside.
Ewan’s tweet last night was in very good humour
Love these previews and always look forward to them in the morning whenever there is a grand tour on. Between “He can do it all..” and “The Passo Colla (literally ‘glue pass’, you don’t want to get stuck here)” this might be my favourite this year. Although, I did really enjoy learning about Chinotto too.
Nice pun on “Passo Colla”, but inrng might also have noticed that this is one of his all-time favourite subjects: different name that all mean “a mountain pass”, sometimes even mixed together in sort of a redundancy like in this case… which is rather “Col Pass” 😉
Yes, a pleonasm and common in places with different languages and dialects from the past.
“Long-limbed Limburger” is also brilliant wordplay. Chapeau!
These previews are great. The nearest I’m gonna get to a team briefing – with the essential detail, added cultural context and extra wit!
Just reading a little about Potenza in World War 2, it was heavily bombed in late 1943 by the Allies.
Probably why the infrastructure is quite modern.
Tom Dumoulin down but nobody would let him back up for free. I guess he’d need to lose a bit more time for break away to happen. On the other hand, if he try a late attack, the GC teams might not mind that much.
Bauke is here for that stage win to join the list of riders with stage wins in all three Grand Tours. Today would be one of those he had circled when the route was announced surely. Extra complication with Trek Segafredo having the jersey but i think they can let Bauke defend from the break, while they keep a watch on the GC battle. Some of Bauke’s main rivals for a stage like this – Kämna, Taaramae are too close to Lopez to be allowed off the leash. So it could be a good day to try to strike? Go Bauke!
Be interesting to see what teams go to the front, Ineos, Bahrain or maybe Bora. Also all the GC action might well take place at the back of the peloton – who struggles.
I,m thinking de ghent may get a pass anyway. Ewans only got a few days left and results have not been coming.
Lotto need the points that even a placing would give.
What a stage start! :-O
Good to see Dumoulin in the break. Disappointed he’s not taking more time. Pretty gutted he’s out of GC actually. Pretty certain he’ll retire with just a Giro win now when he should surely have won a TDF with his talent. Had he not ridden the Giro the year Geraint won the TDF I’m certain he would have won.
Anyway – possibly expected more fireworks today? Still 30km to go so let’s see… (but I missed the early stages so maybe I missed the good stuff?)
Also new Kendrick album out today taking my attention…! 🙂
Lopez looks to be putting a lot of energy into these smaller climbs? I was wondering how far he might go as he has a decent buffer to everyone aside from Kamna, but maybe that is fanciful. I look at this TOP10 currently and see a lot of riders with histories of looking good then fading (Kelderman, Taarme, Porte, Landa, Bilaboa…) – it’s very hard to not see this coming down to Yates vs Carapaz with maybe one wildcard like a Kamna or Almeida there or there abouts.
Nice to see Dumoulin in the break, having picked a photo of him, named in the preview… and then forgotten to add his name amid the chainring ratings, doh! We’ll see for the stage win now but he’s got a good little punch, and a team mate.
Also didn’t expect them to come into last 5km with 3mins still.. considering he was 8mins back that’s not actually bad, with Carapaz himself being 2mins down.
They let Dumoulin claw back half his deficit at their own peril.
Why does that numpty Rob Hatch insist on calling Juan Pedro Lopez what sounds like Humpy Lopez. When will Eurosport realise he’s even more irritating than Kirby, if that’s at all possible.
Poor old commentators… they get it in the neck all the time!
Admittedly I’m pretty chilled but Kirby annoyed me, Rob Hatch isn’t even in the same ball park…
“Juanpe” is a diminutive version of Juan-Pedro, his team mates and others call him this.
Hopefully Carlton Kirby will be back for the Tour 🙂 (he hasnt done the Eurosport commentary for the Giro for a few years). Rob Hatch is fluent in Italian, Spanish & French (he did a languages degree) and lives in Spain, so should be pretty spot on with Spanish names. His German is a bit ropey though. At least he doesnt insist on calling Emmanuel Buchmann “Mani” as Carlton Kirby does (the diminutive in German would be “Emu”).
There was the German footballer Manny Kaltz, played for Hamburg when Keegan was there.
Though, on checking, his first name was Manfred.
Maybe Carlton Kirby has that in his mind as Kaltz was rather good.
According to velofacts the time cut-off for the stage was 37:33, but that would exclude 62 riders! Even more interesting is that they can be re-admitted, but losing all points. Will be interesting to see whether they apply the rules correctly!
According to article 2.6.032 of the UCI Regulations, under exceptional circumstances, confirmed accidents or incidents, the Commissaires Panel, after consultation with the Organization Director, may readmit in the race any Rider finishing in a time exceeding the time limit, by increasing the latter by a maximum of 25% of the time set forth in this Article, after cancelling all the points the Rider has earned in each and every classification.
I make the time cut today 18% (Stage 7 was category D, average speed was 37km/h = 18% *) or just over 56mins so all riders should be ok.
* For reference, time cuts rules among the info at inrng.com/giro
Not all cycling websites are equal. Yours is a step above the others – again!
Good for Dumoulin & JV today – but seemed like the peloton had no intention of hurrying when the gap got down to 3 minutes from 6. Ineos might be one man down after Castroviejo’s crash, we’ll find out Saturday.
It was a really great sprint from Demare to win but my money was on Ghirmay,that kid could have won if he had started sprinting a bit sooner hopefully he will win stage 7 .
was a really great sprint from Demare to win but my money was on Ghirmay,that kid could have won if he had started sprinting a bit sooner hopefully he will win stage 8 .