Monday, May 6, 2013

STAGE 4 Preview 2013 Giro d'Italia

STAGE 3 wrap-up and STAGE 4 Preview and Picks

Monday May 6, 2013, 2pm New York Time:

As, off the road, Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford reassured the media today that Chris Froome is still, and has always been Sky's captain for the Tour de France (for what seems like the fifth time), on the road, Giro captain Bradley Wiggins maintained his high standing in that race. The fast descenders had their day today. Taborre was very aggressive for most of the day out of the original 7-man break, but race announcer Carlton Kirby's pick, Luca Paolini, put on quite a show flying down the twisty slopes to Marina di Ascea.  Hesjedal and Evans round out the top 3 finishers today, both grabbing a few bonus seconds toward Wiggins' lead. Everyone seemed to throw caution to the wind on the technical 17 km switchback descent. Several crashes dotted the road, which fortunately stayed dry. Wet conditions would probably have caused disasters for many riders' tour hopes. We'll have to see how it all shakes out after the injuries and time gaps.
Big loser today: Michele Scarponi: doing a superior job staying out of trouble, toward the front of the chase group in the last kilometers descending to the finish, Scarponi got a bad break. The Blanco duo of Gesink and Kruijswijk, who were leading the chase of Paolini with about 4km to go, took him out in a crash. Kruijswijk had slid out going into the tight turn too quickly and Gesink adjusted behind him, forcing Scarponi to flick his brake and skid into a fall on his right shoulder. Though his injuries fortunately seem superficial, he lost almost a minute waiting for a replacement bike.

Luca Paolini
Tomorrow's stage 4 from Policastro Bussentino to Serra San Bruno is the second-longest of the race at 246 km. It takes the riders along the Tyrrhenian Coast, where crosswinds could be an issue, to the southernmost point of the race. The profile is mostly flat for about the first 192k however. The peloton will go over a cat. 3 climb about 40k from the finish. Then, whereas today's stage 3 ended with a 17km descent, stage 4 will start the final climb at -17km.  Depending on where the official climb starts, the cat. 2 Croce Ferrata is about 11km at about 5.5 to 6 percent average gradient, maxing out briefly at 10%. The top of the climb leaves the riders with about a 6km, mostly descending road to the finish line, about 100m lower in elevation from the Ferrata's KOM line.

The top finishers tomorrow may resemble today's somewhat, with the likely exclusion of Luca Paolini. Another opportunity for a late breakaway, probably near the top of the Croce Ferrata, where someone with good legs after the 240+ km haul might get enough of an advantage to stay away to the finish. The GC contenders won't want to let anyone of a real threat to get away, so look for small time gaps. The time bonuses at the line however, will encourage a brisk sprint to the line.

I was glad to see my pick today, Peter Weening, in there at the end, finishing 7th in a very elite group. And while I had almost all of the top 15, I totally missed the call on Paolini.

Likely pick: Vincenzo Nibali, Cadel Evans, Ryder Hesjedal, Bradley Wiggins
Dark-horse pick: Stefano Pirazzi
My pick: 1. Ryder Hesjedal, 2. Maro Santambrogio, 3. Fabio Aru


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