Yesterday Arnaud Demare was the best sprinter in a reduced field. Today he was the best. Period.
The stage itself was the most standard flat stage you can imagine. Diego Rosa (Eolo Kometa) spent nearly the whole day alone in front. He was caught with around 30km to go and the sprinters took full control of the race to the finish. At the line, Mark Cavendish was the first to launch, but was eventually edged out by both Caleb Ewan and Demare. The Frenchman ended up winning that battle by literal millimeters, and didn’t even celebrate until the photo finish cleared up his victory.
I can’t decide if Jacopo Guarnieri (Demare’s leadout man) was a genius or inept today. Groupama’s sprint train was firing on all cylinders until 500 meter to the line when yesterday’s hero, Ramon Sinkeldam, left the front. Guarnieri proceeded to lose Groupama’s momentum, allowing Quick Step’s Michael Morkov to get Cavendish to the front of the peloton with 300 meters to go. Even Demare commented post-race that at that point he wanted to get past his leadout man because he felt he needed a bit more speed.
On the other hand, he might have been a genius given that Cavendish was seemingly left in front too far from the finish. There was wind against the riders at the finish line which turned into a disadvantage to whomever was in front first. Ewan easily overtook Cav, and then Demare propelled himself from the Australian’s wheel to beat him by a few millimeters. The Frenchman mentioned afterwards that he would have liked to have a longer sprint (he got off Ewan’s wheel with a mere 50 meters to the line). In hindsight, his victory is even more impressive due to this. Beating Ewan in the last 50 meters? Wow, what a sprint!
Drone Hopper – Androni Giocattoli & Eolo Kometa
I’d like to give props to both of these wildcard teams. They constantly make the breakaways, showing off their sponsor. In cycling there is really a huge disadvantage in being a small team and these two teams are really doing the best they can. Androni is even leading the intermediate sprints’ classification, which they have done in 2019 and 2020. In short, they’re making the most out of the opportunity to line up in the Giro. Unlike Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè.
Stage 7 Preview
By the roadbook of the Giro the riders have two third, one second and one first category climbs awaiting them tomorrow. By Tour standards though, it’s more like two second and two first category climbs though. Just to illustrate how much of a difference tomorrow’s stage can make.
It’ll surely be a day for a breakaway. Trek Segafredo will likely work hard at the beginning to make sure the breakaway doesn’t threaten Juanpe Lopez’s maglia rosa. The American team isn’t big enough to give up the possibility to maximize the number of days one of its riders spends wearing the leader’s jersey of a Grand Tour.
I see this stage making more of a difference in the general classification than the Etna. This is a hard stage all the way. The Monte Grande di Viggiano (6.6km at 9.1%) will certainly leave a mark even if no teams picks up the pace at the front of the peloton. That climb finishes about 60km from the finish. After that the riders will descend and face another small uncategorized slope before facing the Sellata, a deceitful third category climb. Deceitful because it is 7.8km long at an average gradient of 5.9%. The Sellata ends roughly 24km from the finish which makes it hard for a solo rider to take any eventual advantage to the line but makes it very possible for a small group to do so.
In terms of the aforementioned maglia rosa, I back Lopez and Trek Segafredo to keep it. I believe it is just too motivating for the rider and for the team to wear the pink jersey in the Giro and they’ll do everything in their power to keep it that way. It is possible Ineos will look to increase the pace, especially in the Monte Grande di Viggiano climb, but even if that happens, as I wrote above, I still back Lopez to stay with the favorites and thus retain his maglia rosa.
Ironically I reckon Bauke Mollema would be a great shout to win the stage. If I were Trek though, and unless I could put him in the breakaway to defend the pink jersey, I’d rather have Mollema as an extra domestique in the peloton.
Mauro Schmidt (Quick Step Alphavynil), Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Premier Tech), and Filippo Zana (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè) are my picks for tomorrow. The first already won a similar stage last year in this very race. Israel really needs a result and De Marchi is one of the few within the team who can win a stage. And finally, Bardiani has been completely anonymous in the Giro so far. Zana is also one of the few riders they have that can win a stage in the Giro. Why not try on a day when the breakaway will most likely succeed?
I don’t think anybody will win the Giro tomorrow but somebody will lose it.