Giro d'Italia (st. 7)
Crosswinds and mass crash twice split peloton at fastest Giro road stage in decades (51.2kph), as solid Movistar Team, with strong Torres & Cataldo at the helm, gets through difficulties well.
/ Today’s route
Full speed ahead! Despite having already enjoyed two sprints this week, Friday’s stage seven was bringing the first real chance for a fully-fledged ‘volata’, with even those sprinters less suited to the mountains having a chance. It was a sprint in all senses, with just 143 km -to be probably covered in about three hours-, no categorized climbs and a flat finish in Brindisi.
/ Weather report
Watch out for the wind! Barring the section prior to the bonus sprint, the race would face crosswinds of a sustained 30kph, and gusts of 50kph, for the entire route. It had not played a factor in the first part of this Giro, yet it could enjoy a huge role today…
/ Keys to the race
- Barely 10km after the start in Matera, the first ‘hot point’ of the stage arose. Deceuninck and Jumbo-Visma created echelons in the crosswinds, splitting the peloton into four groups. The Movistar Team, which had missed the first split of about 30 riders, was able to bridged back from the second group, with Albert Torres and Dario Cataldo doing some good job for Antonio Pedrero. It wasn’t until 70km into the stage when the rest of the Blues, including Sergio Samitier, were able to make it back into the main group.
- As Pellaud (ANS) and Frapporti (THR) tried to bring back to life their original breakaway -caught into the crosswinds-, with no ‘permission’ from the bunch, came another incident: a pile-up as the road narrowed under the 45km to go banner. Torres, Cataldo, Villella and Pedrero were able to get through this incident safely, while Samitier, Sepúlveda, Rubio and Carretero were forced to go in pursuit again, left more than one minute behind the leaders. 20km before the end, the groups came back together – for good.
- The fastest Giro road stage in decades (over 51kph average; less than 2h50 for the 143km) came down to another winning bunch sprint for Arnaud Démare (GFC), ahead of Peter Sagan (BOH, 2nd) and Michael Matthews (SUN, 3rd). Pedrero and Samitier were supported near the finish by a solid Movistar Team (Villella, Sepúlveda and the ever-dependable Torres y Cataldo at the front), keeping the first rows of the bunch through to the ‘safety zone’ of the last 3km. Antonio and Sergio remain 15th and 16th overall, respectively.
/ Upcoming goals
Will it be a sprint or a breakaway on Saturday? The scenario turns wide open again tomorrow on stage eight (200km), always near the coast on the way between Giovinazzo and Vieste (Gargano). The riders will tackle the Monte Sant’Angelo (Cat-2) halfway through the race and some little climbs before the final circuit; if there’s teams willing to keep things under control, there could be another ‘volata’; if not, the race will be all the more spectacular.
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto