Giro Stage 7 Preview

The first of two time trial stages in the race and a crucial day to reshape the overall classification.

Stage 6 Review: a non-stop stage and self-fulfilling action. This was the “gravel” stage but most of the action happened on the tarmac. The sterrato sections were needed through, just enough to raise the tension and spice up the stage.

Anyone tuning in after two hours might have thought nothing had happened since the bunch was all together. Only there was raging battle to get in the breakaway that day and the fight went on so long that it was almost too late because any move would not have enough space to get away from UAE and Ineos.

The climb to Volterra finally broke the proverbial elastic. Kaden Groves was instrumental and Julian Alaphilippe went again with Luke Plapp, Pelayo Sanchez, Filippo Fiorelli, Matteo Trentin and Andrea Vendrame. Groves was the surprise as a sprinter but Plapp was the curiosity as a GC rider on the move, riding himself into the virtual maglia rosa.

On the Grotti sterrato section Plapp attacked and had Alaphilippe and Sanchez for company and the trio would stay away for the day. But only just with suspense to the end as to whether the peloton would get them, Ineos’s work took a minute out of their lead on the last sterrato sector to leave it close.

Heading to Rapolano and Sanchez was caught out by a roundabout, forgetting to the round part. He’d survived the dirt sectors and climbs and this would have been an ignominious ending as Plapp was untroubled and riding away. Alaphilippe was delayed by Sanchez here and as they chased he seemed to be turning into Thomas Voeckler with his vocal outbursts and exaggerated body language but this worked, it got Sanchez to help close down Plapp.

On the final climb the trio’s fortunes kept changing, each looked in peril on the steep climb which once would have been Alaphilippe’s springboard to victory but he couldn’t shake the others. He kept pulling though as the fine lead meant the trio had no time to play poker. In the finish Sanchez came around Alaphilippe to take his biggest in.

With Sanchez, he’s not a star name, having risen gradually up the ranks, a contract with BH Burgos at first – his local pro team as he’s from the Asturias and where he won a stage of the Vuelta Asturias – and he had very solid Vuelta last year. Now with Movistar this year he sacked Julian Alaphilippe and Luke Plapp from the breakaway in a straight uphill sprint.

Among the GC contenders no change except for Damiano Caruso who was already losing ground but conceded 15 minutes. The other point is trivial by comparison, but Tadej Pogačar looks increasingly tired by the post stage interviews, probably inevitable after the repeat questions from many media outlets but the boyish delight of the past is starting to have tones of the teenager told to tidy his room. We’ll see how he can regain the story today.

The Route: the profile says plenty, there’s not much more to add. The roads are flat and wide, there are few tricky corners. After the second time check at the crossing of the Tiber river, the climb to Casaglia begins including 1.5km at 10% and it’s often steeper, it’ll sting but riders have to keep something for the further climb up to Perugia.

The Contenders: Tadej Pogačar (UAE) and Filippo Ganna (Ineos) are the obvious candidates. Pogačar is just riding that bit better than everyone but he hasn’t taken a TT win outside of Slovenia since Laval in the 2021 Tour de France. Ganna is the specialist who can stop him but he hasn’t won a time trial this season and he’s not the certain pick of a few years ago when he seemed invincible against the clock.

Can Geraint Thomas go better than Ganna? He has been climbing well so he should be time trialling well too, a year ago he was one second short of the win against Remco Evenepoel and it’ll be interesting to see his time splits on the way to the climb and then up.

Any outside contenders? A third Ineos name in Magnus Sheffield but this could be on too long a course for him. Mikkel Bjerg (UAE) won the Dauphiné stage last summer but like Sheffield it’s hard to seem him upstaging his leaders on the team.

Josef Černý (Soudal-Quickstep) can get results in time trials but his form doesn’t look sparkling and that’ll cost him on the climb at the end. Lorenzo Milesi (Movistar) is the U23 TT World Champion and so worth watching but the win looks elusive.

There’s also the contest for GC so as much as the stage win it’s all about seeing who has a good day and viewing their performances both relative to the leader board but also to expectations. Luke Plapp (Jayco) has the TT background and should be high up… but he might feel his efforts yesterday although nobody had it easy.

Ganna, Pogačar

Weather: 22°C and sunshine with a 20km/h NNE wind which means a three-quarters headwind for much of the course.

TV: Filippo Ganna starts at 2.37pm CEST and Tadej Pogačar off at 4.24pm and due in around 5.15pm CEST.

Postcard from Assisi
After a week with three sprint finishes, the Giro arrives in Umbria, a region famous for its famous hilltop towns like Perugia, Gubbio, Orvieto, Spoleto and Assisi. The list of places reads like a UNESCO heritage list. These are places both picturesque and big enough to host a Giro stage.

Imagine the scene: the race storms uphill, thundering over the ancient flagstones to pass through the old portico before a finish in the medieval piazza. Only today we get a time trial.

These uphill finishes though the castle walls ought to be part of the Giro, no? Yet they are probably as rare as mountain time trials. Defining such finishes is be more art than science but the last sharp uphill finish in the Giro by a castle? Visegrad in the Hungarian start but that was more a spiral road uphill, it certainly wasn’t urban.

How about 2018 and Stage 11 to Osimo won by Simon Yates. Before that? Maybe when Joaquim “Purito” Rodriguez won in Assisi in 2012. Either way these “medieval” finishes of the Giro are almost mythical whether in Umbria or beyond. When the race has visited Umbria there’s often been a time trial instead.

This feels a pity as given the Giro trades on images and even clichés of Italy and uphill finishes in these towns supply tourist appeal by the barrel-load and they offer great sport so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. It’s something that hasn’t been missed by the Tour de France as Stage 2 will finish by the Basilica di San Luca in Bologna this July.

22 thoughts on “Giro Stage 7 Preview”

  1. Interesting comment about Pog’s ‘pink jersey fatigue’. I did wonder if Ineos’s efforts to chase down the break were actually focused on minimising Plapp’s time gains and hence keeping Pog in pink, and on the race leader’s media treadmill?

  2. Minor pedantic note: Sánchez carries an accent on its A. In fact, all Spanish names finishing in -ez have one such accent on its penultimate syllable.

  3. I think i noticed Damiano Caruso going down in a crash in the last 15 or 20 km;s when he was in the peleton. Could be wrong though the camera did not linger.

  4. Its been an excellent Giro so far I would say, featuring the little climbs and technical roads through scenic towns that seemed to be for some reason missing last year.
    I reckon Pogacar might win this TT. Its almost an ASO finish, I would have thought they’d leave it flat for the Ganna win.

  5. My normal thing is to watch a recording of the final two hours or so and the temptation to jump ahead to the end to see if Plapp held on was substantial. Nevertheless, I lived through all the uncertainty and was impressed with his ride. Won’t have to wait too long to see if he can back it up.

  6. Agree on your chainring picks, Thomas (Geriant) has impressed me (as well as his French namesake) although it was odd that he seemed to drop yesterday on the steep final climb before getting back to the front on the descent; any idea what happened to him there?

    I doubt Sheffield will feature today as he did a lot of work yesterday (Ineos overall were v impressive).

    A great Giro so far. What chance that today’s finale will also have such tension? 🤔

    • Also surprised with Geraint. I’ve seen him ride well after good form in warm ups and seen him fall flat after bad warm ups – it was very hard to see where he was after a mediocre preGiro – still have a suspicion Cian is going to out climb him later from what we’ve seen and maybe Martinez.

  7. This will be a stage I might not bother with live..just watch the RAI evening wrap-up show. I understand what you mean about the hilltown finishes but perhaps you’re underestimating the space requirements for all the temporary finish line construction in an ancient town? Few of those narrow roads open up into a piazza large enough. I’ve seen most of them during our bike tour days. Siena is an outlier IMHO.

    • I seem to remember there were more of those finishes in the early 1980s, and that Beppe Saronni was unbeatable there. There were also 30 seconds bonuses for stage winners.

      • ‘Fiddly’ or technical, or just interesting, finishes to stages are what I used to associate most with the Giro. Not necessarily up a cobbled or flagged climb through city walls into a piazza but often including some sort of hill. Whether a genuine steep climb of the sort Purito would eat up, more of a Ulissi/Gilbert assisting ramp or just some uphill bends to thin a sprint out a bit. Not as severe as a the concrete footpaths used in the Vuelta, but more scenic and opposed to the boulevard finishes I used to associate with the first week or so of the Tour.

        • Same with Di Luca around the 2000s, my introduction to the Giro. I wonder if it was just memory now? All the sprint stages are long forgotten and it was these unique days that stay in the mind.

  8. I cannot see beyond Pogacar today.
    He’s not won a TT in a while but firmly expecting him to put serious time into everyone including Ganna.

    Ganna’s been in a weird place recently, last few years (although I assume this year has a track focus?) have seen him almost do a Tony Martin and fall off the TT perch and if those wins don’t come back around I wonder if he’ll be able to do a Cancellara and really become a classics mainstay in the face of current competition?

    Very interested in Sheffield today follow his Cycling Podcast interview. Seems hugely talented but hasn’t excelled yet as I expected him to (a little like Quinn Simmons) so hoping he goes well today and restarts his march to the higher ranks.

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