Thursday, May 9, 2013

STAGE 7 Preview 2013 Giro d'Italia

2013 GIRO D’ITALIA Stage 6  wrap and Stage 7 preview:

My, and everyone else's pick today, Mark Cavendish delivered the goods at the line in front of the fast-charging foursome of Viviani, Goss, Bouhanni and Gavazzi. My full rundown can be found on the right under  RECAPS and RESULTS in the menu. 

Friday's stage 7 profile is a sawtooth with lots of short climbs peppering the route. Attackers' buffet. Look for a punchy climber to attack on one of the last couple of hills. The GC contenders will have to be vigilant up to the end--and some of them are better than others at this type of stage...

The peloton started today’s stage 6 under sunny skies and in solemn but fond remembrance of fallen comrade and Giro stage winner Wouter Weylandt. Today marks the two-year anniversary of the talented young Weylandt’s tragic death on the stage to Rapallo, descending the fast and technical Passo del Bocco. His jersey number in that race, 108 is permanently retired from the Giro d’Italia roster. This year FDJ sprinter Nacer Bouhanni (as his team got the first numbers in the 100’s) wears number 100 in place of the now absent 108 (as team jersey numbers generally start at 1 and, in grand tours, go to 9).

The riders then zipped their way up the back of the Italian boot, along the Adriatic coast and then inland, twice around a 16-km circuit to the textbook bunch sprint finale in Margherita di Savoia. Several crashes marred the route, mostly occurring in the middle or back of the peloton as the riders touched wheels navigating around the plentiful turns and road furniture. We got to see more of the bright orange “mattresses” they’ve put up on inconveniently located potential impediments throughout the parcours. I’m sure we’ll see more of them in the mountain stages, all over trees on the descents.

Leigh Howard (OGE) took the worst part of it today, forced to abandon the race with a broken collarbone. With no more real sprint stages available until a week from now, teammate Matt Goss might not notice Howard’s absence for a while.

In the end we were treated to a thrilling sprint that could only end one way. After the win, Cavendish dedicated the stage to the well-remembered Wouter Weylandt. 

Stage 7

Tomorrow’s sawtooth stage 7 from San Salvo to Pescara is a 177 km parade of small, but in some cases steep hills, the highest of which tops out in the middle of the stage at about 560 meters, and the last of which tops out at 150 meters, just under 8km from the finish line. Inattentive or off-form riders will find it hard to catch any strong puncheurs who manage to build even a small lead on the peloton attacking in those final hills. A strong Classics rider (like Paolini) or a diligent climber/GC contender (like Hesjedal, Nibali, Evans, Gesink, Sanchez, Scarponi, Kiserlovski, Uran, Henao, Di Luca, Pellizotti, Santambrogio, Caruso, Betancur or even Wiggins if he wanted it bad enough) should succeed here. Giovanni Visconti is one I might pick for this stage, except that he bruised his hip in a crash on stage 6 and I don’t know if he will feel up to it.

Mountain jersey points hunters (Stefano Pirazzi) might lick their lips at the four small categorized hills in the last 50-or so kilometers. Overall contenders will be aware of the long time trial coming up the next day, and will hope to save some energy for that. But they may wind up forced to ride in defense of their positions, and then just hope to limit their TT losses to Wiggo on Friday somehow. If a break is allowed to escape then Oscar Gatto or Miguel Rubiano are good options. Rain is expected again, not unlike when the peloton passed through here during Tirreno Adriatico in March.


Likely picks: Hesjedal, Nibali, Evans

Dark-horse pick: Peter Stetina

My pick: Rigoberto Uran

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