A breakaway or a sprint finish? One thing’s certain, it’ll be another wet and cold day.
Fuga Full Gas: a flurry of action in the first two hours as riders fought to get in the breakaway with wave after wave of moves, and several riders were in danger of being dropped including some Quicksteppers which isn’t a good sign, perhaps they just hadn’t warmed up? One rider regularly visible on the front was DSM’s Andreas Leknessund and he made the break of seven that went clear. The stage caught fire again on the final climb as the breakaway was reduced by attacks with Leknessund the most aggressive, motivated by the possibility of taking the overall lead and pulling all sorts of faces because of the effort. A cooler Aurélien Paret-Peintre just got across to him before the top of the climb and the pair sped to the finish with the lanky Frenchman taking the stage, and the maglia rosa for the Norwegian. It’s the first time an early breakaway has stayed away to contest the win in the World Tour since Rigo Uran’s Vuelta stage win last September.
It wasn’t two races for the price of one as there were no attacks among the GC contenders as Ineos drove the pace up the last climb. Still, the surprise was all the Quicksteppers were dropped to leave Evenepoel alone by the final climb and on what was only a mid-mountain stage, albeit one ridden very hard, in tough conditions, and where his team were busy. Evenepoel is now released from media duties having passed on both the pink and white jerseys to Leknessund but the Norwegian’s spell in pink might not last beyond Friday and the summit finish at the Gran Sasso d’Italia.
The Route: 171km and 2,400m of vertical gain. This is the most southern stage of the race and after today the race starts its trek north. It’s uphill almost from the start and the Passo Serra is 5km at 6% but with a solid 10-12% section midway to help a breakaway go clear. The climb to Oliveto Citra is the last hurdle for the sprinters and almost 3km at 8%. Then it’s flat all the way to the Salerno, there’s no time to stop in Eboli especially as the wind will be up to make the final parts more risky.
The Finish: a long flat finish straight alongside the coast, it’s exposed to the sea breeze.
The Contenders: a sprint stage? Probably but the sprinters’ teams will need a Goldilocks ride, fast enough to chase down the breakaway, slow enough so as not to put their sprinters into the red. This alone makes it a harder pick for heavyset riders like Jonathan Milan (Bahrain) even if he can turn on the power. Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) is a big rider but climbs well and Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) is a fast finisher although he’d like an uphill finish.
For breakaway picks, someone who can handle the flat finish but it’s not obvious, subtract the teams with GC ambitions and those with sprinters and there are few squads left and among them not many names jump out.
|Gaviria, Ackermann, Dainese, Milan, Cavendish|
Weather: damp and 17°C on the coast for the finish but cooler inland, 14°C at times. One thing to watch for is the breeze coming in off the sea for the final 20km, it’s nothing savage but alters the space available on the road.
TV: KM0 is at 12.55pm and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST.
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The second half of this stage didn’t live up to the first half but it was interesting that S-Q fell away.
Lots of discussion about team tactics, should QS have put in the effort early to chase down Brandan McNulty, could Ineos have chased harder to keep Remco Evenepoel in Pink, what were JV doing etc etc. Sometimes stuff just happens and there are fewer “chess moves” than we or the commentators like to think. Yes Remco Evenepoel being on his own is not a good thing but he is more than capable of sitting on the wheels of Ineos. The issue might be if he has a puncture etc.
I have seen some thoughts that Remco does not like wet & cool conditions (forecast is for around 17 degrees at the finish, hardly cold though clearly will be somewhat cooler in the hills) but not sure that is true.
The cold and wet conditions at Liege didn’t look to impede him that much.
When he took the leaders jersey in Spain, it was a rainy day in the Vuelta. Only Mas could hold his wheel that day.
The magia rosa is isolated and no GC contender tries an acceleration to force Remco to chase….
Ineos were pushing quite hard though (apparently more to keep control than try to keep Evenepoel in pink). So I don’t think anyone of note wanted to risk it just yet. It was probably enough to know that his team disappeared early on a medium mountain stage – meaning teams can plot for the harder climbs to come (well that’s a theory – whether it actually happens is another matter!)
INRNG from time to time slips in a literary reference, this time to Carlo Levi’s 1945 book, Christ Stopped at Eboli. Apparently, Levi’s point was that everything bypasses this godforsaken place. At least the Giro is going through it!
That’s not a reference I’d have ever picked up, so it’s nice to have it pointed out 🙂
And all living in apartmnent buildings. Close together.
Nor would I. It just made me think of the Princess Eboli in Verdi’s Don Carlos. Which I suppose shows that I know a lot more about Italian opera than I do about Italian literature.
Applause for both you and inrng!
Grazie Michael, such observation is more rooted in Italian culture than any of Jørgen Leth’s documentaries in biking culture
From the images it does not look like the most enticing of places to visit certainly not a stereotypical hilltop settlement!
Am I correct in thinking that the entire population of Italy lives on hilltops?
Interesting isn’t it?
It looks so picturesque now, but it’s the product of a deeply territorial and war riven era of European history.
If only they could have raced bikes against each other to draw off the blood lust!
It’s as picturesque as Tuscany in many ways but the houses and flats look a bit more run down and “meridionale” to me
Am I correct in thinking that there was a sprint finish into Salerno a few years back with the route up from the south coming all the way along the coast road?
Can’t say, was it at the Giro? Perhaps more than a few years? I’ve fond memories of a spectacular tricky stage from Sorrento through Salerno to Ascea in 2013. Thinking about it, Paolini, who won that day, didn’t win much for a relative fast wheel as he was, just a couple of races in his last 5-6 seasons. Normally on support duties. But, hey, those last couple of races he won were among the most spectacular of the decade, the above mentioned stage and finally that famous Ghent.
It’s up the coastal road but can’t think of a recent finish on this.
No room for Matthews in your chainrings? Pedersen looked off yesterday for a bit, though he did return.
Are Ineos stuck with some corporate resonance, forever stuck with the mountain train and doomed never to send individual attacks and ‘actually kill something’?
Wide variation of descending skills yesterday. Seems odd, like it’s the last dusty skill at the back of the cupboard to get dragged out for appraisal and a brush up. 50% of rides is downhill until you get uplifts, so get in the car and keep practicing from the top. It’s a skillset that can be improved.
Don’t think G is in the form yet to push too hard so they went at a pace where they wouldn’t lose time to rivals rather than try to take time which is understandable in the circs. Playing the ‘multiple cards’ will come later.
A lot of analysis over not very much. The finish yesterday was not that hard, does anyone seriously think Remco Evenepoel was going to try to chase after Pavel Sivakov? Maybe Ineos could have of put a bit more effort in to keep Remco in pink but easy to say in hindsight and does it make much difference in the end. More sensible to focus on Friday’s stage. If the QS team dont step up there it will be a different matter.
Just so flat for the finish I was thinking Matthews will be overtaken by others. Having typed this he’ll now win 😉
Interesting comment from G in his post-race interview about some teams struggling on the descent due to tyres that aren’t very good in the wet. Pretty sure that’s not going to be repeated in the mainstream cycling media.
G said that they just found themselves at the front so they just carried on. No plan to put pressure on. Unusually for Ineos they still have 5 riders towards the front so I think they’re correct so far.
Wind and rain today? After yesterday’s exertions, a crosswind could cause havoc. Not to mention the descents as well.
Just saw about DSM – good for them! Hope they can keep their young riders.
JV and Ineos saw QS mistakes and will put the screws to Remco at the right time.
Will QS learn from their mistakes or are they that weak?
There may be a stage where JV will work over Remco like they did to Pogacar in last years TDF.
What’s the reason for MASNADA being in Hungary and not at the giro? wouldn’t bagioli have been a good selection?
Think Masnada had some form/illness issues in or from the Tour de Romandie so he didn’t make the Giro.
Thy said on Eurosport that Masnada himself said to the team he’s not feeling fit enough to be of help at the Giro.
Stage 4 was a lesson learned by QS without any negative repercussions. They’ll be less enthusiastic about chasing down every slightly dangerous rival knowing that they could leave Remco alone again. I’m just salivating over the potential of stage 7 to be a classic. I’m hoping that the potential weakness shown by QS will encourage more teams to test them early and often.
Seven tipped, including the first five. Are you a pro gambler INRNG?