Stage 3: Tortolì — Cagliari, 148km
Time for the Giro to wrap up its Sardinian adventure. It won’t be three sprints in three days, at least not in the bunchiest definition of the term, but it is fairly sure to be two in two. The defining elements of this one will be a lot of gorgeous coastline and an actual big city, with the race ending in the provincial capital of Cagliari. OK, 150,000 people ain’t much as even regional capitals go, but it’s big for an island.
AmyBC’s Wine of the Day
Cardedu 'Caladu' Cannonau di Sardegna: The classic grape of Sardinia.
From the importer: CANNONAU is an indigenous grape variety from Sardegna (possibly with Spanish origins). The vineyards of Cardedu are in the area of Ogliastra, the most mountainous and least populous province on the island. Cardedu is one of the island’s better known traditional producers. The Loi family doesn’t think of itself as a natural wine producer, yet all wines are fermented with native yeasts, and there’s dry farming without use of herbicides or pesticides.
Did You Know!
That Sunday’s post-stage transfer is the latest in a somewhat landmark pattern of Sardinian transfers and rest days? The Giro and other grand tours have a long history of abusive transfers, with teams arriving at their shabby hotel after dark, exhausted and starving, for another early start the next day. Times have changed in the social media era, however, with riders better able to bring their plight to light, and races like the Giro have been forced to curb both the number and length of post-stage transfers. [That New York Grande Partenza ain’t looking too good anymore.]
In 1991, the race started in Sardinia, and after three days of racing (including a double-day 2, with a bumpy 127km strada stage and a 7km ITT), the race took a day off and flew back to the mainland. When the race came back to the island in 2007, they did an even mellower trio of stages, followed by a day off to get back to the mainland, and are set to repeat that tomorrow (apart from the “mainland” thing, which nobody would call Sicily, but close enough) by flying to Palermo and taking ground transport to Cefalù 70km to the east. You could take a ferry there too, as I’m sure some or all of the race’s heavy equipment and vehicles will. The boat from Cagliari takes 12 hours to reach Trapani on Sicily’s westernmost shore.
The 1991 format was almost revolutionary. In 1973, the Giro started in Belgium, its third start on foreign soil, and took a day off on its way back to Italy... but not before riding all the way to Switzerland over six stages. Weirdly, the first time the Giro rested on day 4 was the kinda-sorta foreign soil start in 1974... from the Vatican City. They rode three stages, to Sorrento, stopped for a day, then disembarked from Sorrento again. And that’s your history of early rest days and foreign transfers prior to 1991.
In 1991 the concept of having any rest days was a bit tenuous. The 1990 race packed 21 stages into 20 consecutively raced days. The ‘89 Giro score was 23 stages in 22 days without a pause. In ‘88 it was 23 stages in 21 days. And so on. So I don’t know, without conducting historical research, what role the first race start in Sardinia had on the Giro re-thinking how to position rest days in the calendar, but it seems to have set a notable precedent. Oh, and the first Giro to start on a Friday was in 2014, in Northern Ireland.
What’s the Stage About?
A shoreline cruise to the island’s largest city, where there will be a sprint. Having just bored you with transfer talk, I don’t wish to bore you with varying and unique ways to say this is a sprint stage. It just is.
Pick to Win
I think maybe Ewan gets this one. Greipel isn’t the most dominant sprinter, and he was lucky Saturday that his two main rivals touched each other, leading both to misery. There’s no evidence Ewan is on better form than the Gorilla, but no evidence he isn’t either. Certainly he’ll have all the motivation, as will Gaviria, though the next time Gaviria instills confidence in his bike handling will be the first.