Giro d’Italia Stage 3 Preview

An intriguing stage. The action should be on the flanks of Monte Vulture, an extinct volcano. But who will control the stage? The sprinters’ teams cannot and the GC teams won’t rush either.

Milan San Salvo: a crash with 4km to go derailed sprint trains coming before the 3km to go point also caught out some GC contenders like Tao Geoghegan Hart and Jay Vine. Along the San Salvo sea front it was Jonathan Milan who won and took an Italian win.

The Route: 210km, first along the coast past Termoli, then inland to Foggia and it’s all flat. The crucial part of the day is from Monticchio onwards where the race climbs the flanks of Monte Vulture. This is proper climbing on a twisting road.

From the top of the climb there’s 26km to the finish. It’s not as straightforward as it looks, there’s the twisty descent off the mountain first and then while the route picks up the main road below, this keeps twisting and turning, a slight advantage to a breakaway.

The Finish: ah, Melfi, a hilltop town with its castle and historic medieval centre. Forget that, today’s racing doesn’t go to the centro storico but Zona 167 instead, an area on the outskirts of town with some housing and workshops, and crucially a big truck parking area with enough space to accommodate the race and become the centre of the world for a day. There’s a small turn into the finish line and it’s uphill at 5% to the line.

The Contenders: a day for the breakaway? Riders can try to establish a lead early and hope to hold on.

Can the sprinters stay the course? The main climb is 6.3km at 6.4% and top and tail the climb and there’s 5km with more than 7%, normally too much for most but it’s down to the peloton to eject them as well. It’s where the likes of Michael Matthews (Jayco-Al Ula), Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) or Magnus Cort (EF Education-Easypost) although the latter hasn’t looked so lively this season and is talking about perking up for the latter half of the Giro.

Simone Consonni (Cofidis) is an Italian version of Bryan Coquard as a lightweight sprinter who is talented on the track but also with few wins these days.

Not long ago this would be terrain where Remco Evenepoel exploits the climb and then gets a gap and teams can’t bring him back on the twisty finale. But surely not.

Pedersen, Matthews
Rota, Consonni, Groves, Albanesi

Weather: °C

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST. It’s on RAI for locals and worldwide on Eurosport/GCN.

70 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 3 Preview”

  1. I think the highlight last night was the Giro Train … it seems that Italians don’t jump on the bandwagon but go the whole hog with a train!

  2. The crash in the last kms that happened yesterday, surely the 3km rule was written with exactly such a crash in mind. The rule cold be rewritten in a sense to allow jury to decide if it is enforced even outside the 3km.

    • But if you allow a jury to use their judgement, at what distance would it end?
      And imagine the polemics if a crash was at Xkm and top rider X was caught up in it, but they didn’t allow the rule. Or they did at a distance where they don’t normally allow that. Etc. and so on.

      The largely needless rushing to the front to make sure you don’t get caught out in the crash seems to create more crashes. And now necessitates that every GC team rushing to the front. Once one team started doing that, they all did, and now there’s no going back.

      And if you’re badly positioned, you lose out. Which seems a better rule than some blokes judging what times will or will not be counted.

      • Agreed, a sensible rule and the 3km limit is reasonable.

        On the crash, the Cyclism’Actu site came up with the provocative headline apparently based on an Evenepoel quote (translated) “I saw the crash, it’s Groves…”. He’s currently strong as an ox but someday will need friends in the peloton. That’s hardly the way to make them.

        Stewart for a single ring today, he had a good climbing split in the TT so shouldn’t be dropped?

        • What is with these people ‘blaming others’ for crashes. They’re accidents. They happen. There are 150 people at 55km/h in a tight space. And, yeah, maybe some guy did make a mistake. And one day it’ll be you.
          It’s not that often that you see a crash, and you can definitively say, ‘It was that rider’.

          • @DJW, too. Look for a video of Groves’ move. There are different kinds of “mistakes”. Chastising this sort of attitude may help in having it at least socially sanctioned.

            But let me also add that although the main “culprit” (please note the inverted commas) was Groves, Ballerini wasn’t without fault, which might explain why Remco decided to be so vocal, and make it less of a good idea to speak out so loud.

            I’m not aware if Groves or his team told they are sorry for causing the accident, but doing so might help everybody accepting “mistakes” as such.

          • A lot of people on social media, including ex and current pros, were blaming the DSM rider who at exactly the wrong time (the consensus seemed to be that there is no right time) looked over his shoulder. He therefore didn’t see the Jumbo Visma riders dodge right to avoid Ballerini, and rode straight to the scene of the accident.

          • That jives quite well with what I thought I saw (I haven’t re-played) .. particularly the change of line by Jumbo. You have filled in the gaps for me.

          • Thomas,who had a grandstand view, and Rowe on the Watts occuring podcast (worth a listen) say it was just a racing incident.

          • Yes, I noticed the DSM rider do that too, and was surprised nobody on the TV mentioned it.
            I still haven’t seen Groves do anything wrong: does anyone have a video that shows this?

          • I’ve now seen it on Robbie McEwen’s twitter.
            He says:
            ‘Groves’ hands remained on bars, it was a small push with the elbow on Ballerini. Not a lot in it but the wave grows as it goes down the bunch. If the DSM rider wasn’t looking behind at the time then everyone would have stayed upright & there would be no discussion.’

            It’s blurry, but for me, it looks like Groves does take his hand off the bars and pushes Ballerini.

          • Yes, I think McEwen is a tad biased there, having worked with Groves previously.
            As I said, “It’s not that often that you see a crash, and you can definitively say, ‘It was that rider’”, but if – and I stress “if” because the video I’ve seen is not clear – Groves pushes with a hand, then it’s his fault.

      • The rule could be made more flexible without the somewhat arbitrary element.

        Instead of being 3km dead on, it could be a point between 3~5 km predetermined by the organiser before the day. This would allow them to extend the zone to include pinch points that caused the crash yesterday.

        • This to me is a good suggestion.
          In yesterdays crash, it happened a couple 100m after the road narrowing with those nasty barriers with legs protruding in to the road, it would be logical to put the “3km” rule before that point.
          Not to mention that choosing that kind of roads for the sprint finish is not smart anyway.

        • Perhaps it should be just set to the first significant pinch-point in the last 3 to 5km?

          I.e., set it /in advance/ according to the road conditions that are known, within some boundary?

        • And then the next crash happens at 5250m, you all argue for a 5-8km bend of rules. Next we saw was race cancellation after a crash in neutral zone, whole peloton same time.
          #HelicopterparentsCycling #You’reallWinners

        • Why rely on the organisers when it’s the organisers who thought it a good idea to send a full peloton down such a barriered and unnecessarily narrow road in the first place? This on stage 1 when everybody is as fresh as a daisy and 4kms from the finish when they are in full sprint preparation mode.

          I think this is far more important than trying to blame Groves or Ballerini or DSM or any other single rider for the incident.

          • @Anon on Groves’ move on Sunday

            “Squeezing… unnecessary… narrow… unnecessarily…” you can insist through multiple posts, but what a pity it all didn’t look to have that much to do with the accident, no matter how hard you go qualifying what you look to have little idea ’bout.

            We can conjecture if Groves would have lost wheels all the same or not, which was his first problem, but it all happened well into the barrier section, so that’s all hypothesis.
            You say it was narrow, I think it wasn’t that much, Luke Rowe can say that broad is worse, whatever, but facts as they happened, it was far from evident that the smooth and progressive narrowing should lead to any accident by itself – or that it actually did.

            What’s sure is that with 5 consecutive blocks of road furniture in 700 m. your alternative proposal makes very little sense. To start with, after a bend, however gentle, it’s better to have a narrowing (generated on a long stretch of road and taking advantage of the bend itself) than a split, which you hardly can prepare that much beforehand (will you make them split… during the bend? Right after it?).
            Secondly, and even more important, you can’t have the peloton splitting and mixing again every 150 m., so you’d need to keep the peloton separated for nearly a km. Maybe it happened elsewhere, but I can’t recall it as a common solution at all, as you try to imply.

            But I’ll get a cue from both Groves and Ballerini and just move on. By the way, whatever happens on the road, nobody is entitled to push another rider away, even less so with a hand off the bars.

      • Maybe I am wrong or old fashion but I have the feeling that there are more and more dangerous and aggressive riding in cycling. Would it not be possible to investigate a bit more with videos (…), so that « mistakes » can be sanctionned one way or another?
        (I have not seen the video of yesterday’s crash, so my intention is not giving an opinion on this particular event. And I concur on the fact that it is not smart for riders to publicly make others responsible for a crash, this should be the role of the commissaires).

        • The peloton is becoming increasingly less of a village community and more of a cosmopolitan metropolis, to simplify a lot, which is great under several POVs, but on the other hand implies some changes towards “aggressive” riding, both the good and the bad one.

          • To shortly expand on the above, for example some time ago a handful of riders were “complaining”, in a sense (yearning rather than whinin’), that “back then” when some race days started in a more relaxed way, you had a lot of time for talking, and some of that small talk helped to sort out or smooth this sort of things. Now athletes from different teams often can spend a whole GT without ever coming across each other with the time and attitude to talk.

      • Can’t remember the original quote, nor who to credit, but the reason for so many crashes early on in the GTs is e v e r y leading team still has their original plan for the race and is determined to stick to it;-
        ‘Final kms we are at the front, protecting our GC and getting ready to do the sprint’
        Of course this doesn’t last but while it holds there just isn’t enough space. Even if the finish of all these early stages is on a dead-straight six lane highway the probability is for riders to crash.

        Move the 3km, or take the GC before the line and you will just move the likely scene of the accident. Of course you can mitigate, and I must say the organisation restricted the width on st 2 with barriers – which then had a narrowing exactly where the switching happened. RCS were called out on this many times before, and yet they still have gantries with pinch points all through the parcours, and it’s especially noticeable at sprint points or 20k, 10k, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 to go, as if they chose to ignore all the reasons for all the crashes these have caused.
        Blaming riders in this situation is not really going to help.

        • I think that “blaming the rider(s)” in a case like yesterday is precisely spot on. The man went on to declare that he “did not feel he did anything wrong” and “for me it was a defensive move … as I showed him with my elbow (sic!), he’s lost balance”.

          Now have a look at the heli-shot slow-mo video and a replay of the 400 mts. before the crash, links above.

          He simply had lost the wheels of his own sprint train and instead of staying calm and trying to sort that out, he pushed another rider away “with his elbow”, he says. With hindsight, Ballerini also was at fault for a slight mezzaruota with Cerny (same for the DSM guy looking back, you’d better avoid but you are not *causing* the crash), yet Groves’ move was not acceptable and the direct cause of the crash (a rider I’ve been following for some years, also commenting about him on these pages, I think, and a very promising talent, no doubt).

          It all happened quite after the very smooth narrowing of the road (forced by road furniture and with no better alternative, I’d say). The barriers weren’t a major issue, either, and you *have* to place them in such a situation, obviously enough. They weren’t the 70 degrees ones you can have at some race finishes, but were all the same those with “flat feet” which are quite for a situation like that.

          What would you suggest in this case (on this specific roads) to improve course safety, I’m quite curious… if you find a better route on the map, I’d like to see that, too.

          • Let them ride down both sides of the road instead of squeezing a full peloton into half of it. Haybale the central road furniture if it is large. Provide a race marshal in front of it. Plenty of organisers do this. Even ASO.

            It won’t eliminate the chances of a crash because the splitting of a big peloton round central road furniture is not free from hazard. But it is a better solution than squeezing a quart into a pint pot and adding jagged edges to the pint pot.

          • Based on what I read, I think the rider should be sanctionned.
            Some riders were excluded from races because they threw away some wastes. And nothing happens when one endanger the physical integrity of other riders. I find this a bit puzzling.

        • “Move the 3km, or take the GC before the line and you will just move the likely scene of the accident.”
          Exactly. Nothing would change, except that everyone wants to be on the front 2km earlier.

    • This sort of rule was written with the prevention of crashes in mind. Certainly not with the idea of “saving riders from the effects of crashes on GC”. It was about safety (and it’s far from clear that it achieved much in safety terms).

      • And one of the complaints when first suggested was that it would simply just move the line for aggressive riding further back from the finish line. Exactly what has happened.

    • I agree. The rule needs a second qualifier that if in the last 10km the bunch is together and there is a crash or make this course specific.

      If the course has a long flat run in the goal should be that the GC teams are out of the way. It looked a bit like that crash was in part caused by Jumbo’s swerve to the left.

  3. As a small rider who never wins anything Consonni reminds me a little of myself, so I’ll be cheering for him today. Its more likely to be Pedersen though.

    • Just like the ski stations (and same in France, for ski stations and beyond).

      Always a little paradoxical that this “green sport” (well, ahem, let’s not delve too much into that…) which promotes “territory” through landscapes is so often sponsored – that is, those who pay to get the finish line – by the very same industries which plunder and destroy those lands, the latest examples being precisely Taranto (just google it) or Viggiano, along with Melfi, of course, and many others.

  4. I am not completely sure this will be a sprinter (et similia) stage. The final part seems to be hectic and technical, 5 years ago – Jungels could be an interesting pick.

  5. The crash was an event simply waiting to happen. Narrowing roads with exhausted and spent sprint/GC leader train riders trying to drop back through an already packed and shoulder to shoulder bunch resulted in the inevitable. Sprint finishes need more consideration from the organizers. We all want to see a sprint. None of us want to see accidents.
    The good news is that no one appears to have sustained serious injury.

    • Narrowing roads? Not at all. It was one of the most straightforward finales you could possibly have on a Strada Statale for kms and kms.
      Of course, you’ll always have the daring young sprinter clashing with the (pfff thanks Sky) GC men train.

      • @gabriel. It might well have been a major road, but there were plenty of ‘pinch points’ including short banners across the road. The road where the accident happened was probably half the width of that which preceded the accident. The point being made was that this was an accident waiting to happen on the second stage of a three week race.

        • Yeah, it was the same road but because of road furniture in the middle they preferred the peloton to go on one side only instead of splitting and then regrouping. Given that it was a long straight with perfect visibility, I wouldn’t say it was a bad call, even more so because the nature of the road meant that not only each lane was broad enough, but also that a good emergency lane was also available, summing up to some 6 m. or more of width, which is decent enough for the peloton to negotiate.
          Accidents happen on track, too. I often criticise RCS but they did whatever they could to grant a safe finish, here. If guys start pushing each other, you won’t easily get any broad enough road for that.

          • Nonsense. RCS deliberately and unnecessarily shut off the left hand side of the road. That is not doing whatever they could to grant a safe finish.

        • How wide? Did he mean 4 lanes, or 6? All in all, come on, the road as such had absolutely nothing wrong. I guess that 2 lanes must be too narrow, and 4 too broad. Luckily in Spain we’ve got some roads with total 3 lanes!

          On the contrary, pushing another rider with your hands off the bars won’t ever be “just a racing accident”. That reminds me when one of Dumo’s teammates accused Luisle of launching Aru americana-style, he saw that with his own eyes… until further TV shots became available.

    • Yet where are these reps for the riders who (one would assume) look at these things in advance and evidently approve them? Some of this stuff looks sketchy to me but it seems up to the organizers and the rider rep to figure out what works and minimizes the risk of crashing. Way-too-much after-the-fact or last-minute whining going on, including the stupidity regarding Stage 20…which was publicized 6 months ago in Bicisport magazine, but only now is the subject of gnashing-of-teeth from various DS’.

      • Who are these rider reps that go round a course beforehand with the organisers? They don’t exist. You know they don’t exist. Why pretend that they “evidently” approve them? So disingenuous, so dishonest. Just another keyboard warrior who throws up his hands in mock- horror when called out on his bullshit.

  6. An emotional win for Jonathan Milan, he was really stunned after winning although he is already a gold medal winner in Tokyo (together with Top Ganna).

    P.S. RAI’s processo alla tappa mentioned that his power output maxes out at 1900 Watts!!!

  7. Weather forecast for today (and next few days) is for showers, traditional damp weather for the Giro. Only suggestion for strong winds is Thursday but wind effects are so much dependent on the terrain that very difficult to say whether they will affect the race or not. However slippery twisty descents will certainly certainly add to stress in the Peloton

  8. On a positive note, loads of people on the roadside. So great to see. As expected in this area of Abruzzo. On Saturday I had been rather disappointed, then some locals explained that safety reasons and the structure of roads made it extremely hard for the public to reach the course.

    The TV rule about ITTs on weekends, especially the very first one, get confirmed again. Well over 1 million single viewers (1.13 M – 12,6% share) in Italy only, which may not look great (the whole Giro is well able to average around 2 M), but it’s very very good compared to usual figures, the audience tends to build up through the race and so often the alternative, say a sprinters stage, during the first week would barely get 700 K or so. Plus, and curiously enough, on any other day the ITT would score way less than a road stage, so it’s a no brainer in TV terms, although admittedly hard to explain (and hardcore fans just hate this situation, as they’d love a several-hours live watch for the weekend).

    As a term of comparison, this year’s Roubaix, a good one, came close to the million mark, but still a little below (also a much longer watch, of course, which reduces avg. audience, yet the figures still say quantity about the “Giro effect”).

    • Although a sprint stage, yesterday reached 1.4 M single viewers in Italy (14% share). 1 out of every 7 persons with their TV on was watching the Giro. A notable start, even if I’m afraid that if the Campania stages won’t grant enough action, the figures might grow less than expected, same for the 2nd week. Too many sprint stages ^____^

      • Yet we get the host of the Processo whining about how boring it was, citing volleyball and tennis as sports that have made things less boring! I’ve wondered WTF Fabretti was ever made boss of RAI Sport and WTF he’s now on the Processo? And someone on an Italian website concurred with his view! Nobody is forcing these a-holes with “Tik-tok brain” to sit there and watch so WTF don’t they just watch the last 10 minutes and STFU?
        “Fire Fabretti!” might get sprayed on the back of my “W MAGRO” banner!!!
        W Il Giro!

        • Fabretti is terrible. Politics may be what explains his career. And his commentaries yesterday were inexcusable, besides being pure nonsense of course. Somewhere else he would have been already fired, I guess, that’s why I suspect the above.

          • Fabretti’s even got Beppe Conti sucking up to him now! I guess he fears being axed from the show otherwise? Fabretti got passed over as going back to RAI Sport boss once they’d driven DiStefano out but his father must have worked for RAI…otherwise I can’t see why he’s not covering water polo or rugby instead of ruining Processo. Zavoli must be turning over in his grave…it’s especially galling that they show bits of the original show at the end of each broadcast!!!

    • For the non specialist roadside watcher, though, ITT are great. Something is happening all the time for quite a long time, and smartphones now mean that riders can be identified and their performance assessed.

      Road stages… stand there for hours and then some herds of Lycra flash past. Then you go home and try and find out what you saw.

      • Really? I’ve never bothered with two-wheeled cockroaches in ITT but have spent a LOT of time at the roadside for normal stages, including flying over to Napoli to see a couple there day after tomorrow. I can’t imagine how dull it must be to watch ’em one-at-a-time though I admit to never doing so. W Il Giro!

      • Agreed, and in fact I believe that ITTs in weekends are part of a RCS trend to maximise roadside public on weekends, although it means lower TV audience peaks; plus, they’re priorising a solid average in broadcast viewing figures, again at cost of top scores. Top TV audience is reached with decisive mountain stages on weekend days, but if you place there an ITT it’s not a disaster audience-wise as it would be on a working day, far from. And the other way around: that is, mountain stages on working days still achieve good figures although not amazing ones. It’s happening so often that I’m convinced it’s deliberate, and, if it is, it works, indeed.

        It’s not by pure chance that you have weekends with Abruzzo, Romagna, Brianza and Bergamo, all cycling hotbeds which can gather big crowds (even if the first ITT didn’t work as well as it should because of access management). OTOH, beside Lussari – which also an ITT – no mountain stage happens on a weekend.

  9. Consonni (Simone) should really give it all, his little sister Chiara just won the Wynants trophy in Belgium yesterday, after Waregem, Valencia and a Giro stage – and more – last season, she’s leaving him well behind in terms of road victories! (Simone looks to be currently more steady on the track at elite level, though)

  10. Looking forward to seeing Albanese fighting for todays stage. He’s been on a roll lately on every race he’s entered , but the Giro is a different beast. Always happy when new guys start to shine
    Thanks for the great preview once again!

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