This is one of those GT stages that nobody would have identified as critical when the route was announced. Now that the riders are looking at the profile, though, it is intriguing. Not critical, but intriguing. If we learned anything from Tuesday’s chaos, it is that there’s no such thing as a straightforward stage in this Giro.
What’s It About?
In part, this is typical transition day stuff; we’re moving towards the Carnic Alps and our appointment with Dr Zonc on Saturday. More than that, this is another chance for the puncheurs to grab some glory with a tough finish to a mercifully short day in the saddle. The GC guys won’t want to miss out here, either.
The riders are moving north-eastwards, through Perugia and into Ancona, winding up pretty close to the Adriatic coast. As you’d expect with a move from the spine of Italy towards the coast, the hills get smaller as the stage progresses, but they stay steep. The early climbs are category 3, but neither the Passo Cornello or the Valico di Pietra Rossa are likely to be significant in breaking up the field. The finish, though, is selective.
There’s a steep section of pave in there at 5km to go, and then a final kick of 16% deep into the penultimate kilometre. Things flatten out toward the end but this will be selective.
Did You Know?
Northeast through Umbria makes me think of the Via Flaminia, and we are awfully close to the route for a good portion of the stage.
In keeping with the historical theme of the Giro, this is very old and a very big deal. The Romans, as is tolerably well known, built roads. It is one of the things the Romans did for us.
We know, from a surviving fragment of a lost book of Livy’s history, that the road was built by one Gaius Flaminius, Censor in 220 BCE. This was a time that Rome was expanding into surrounding territory and consolidating both power and logistics. It follows the logical route to take if crossing Italy from Rome towards the north, and as such much of the original construction is lost under newer roads. However, some sections remain, and I hope that an enterprising TV director might make a classics geek like myself happy with a few heli shots on Wednesday.
Whom Does the Stage Favor?
With a tough, rolling parcours and short stage, especially as we move into the middle of this gruelling race, this is another day when the break has an excellent chance at glory. As far as rider types are concerned, we’re looking for a puncheur. The two short, steep climbs leading towards the finish will string out the peloton and create breaks, and only decent climbers will be left. There’s just enough flat(tish) stuff after the final climb to require something of a sprint.
If you’re looking for a winner (and assuming the break is reeled in) then the stage five results will be instructive. The finish here is tougher but the sharp climb/flat finish combination is similar. Battaglin will like his chances of doubling up, Diego Ulissi will be looking to pick up his annual stage win, and I’m sure that Tim Wellens has an eye on this stage with whatever energy he has left. Michael Woods might identify this as a day to pick up the stage he’s seeking.
For the GC boys, this one is about survival, and strong teams and good placement will be key. Simon Yates is climbing well and looked strong towards the end of stage five, and with a good team of climbers around him should be in the right place. Others will be nervous; this is not the kind of finish that Froome enjoys, and Tom Dumoulin will be looking to prevent losses rather than make gains, too. Miguel Angel Lopez should cope well with the sharp climbs but hasn’t looked effective on anything but mountain passes thus far in the race and will need to be savvier to stay with the bigs. Expect some separation within the top 10.
AmyBC’s Wine of the Day
Wine: Bea Montefalco Rosso Riserva Pipparello, 2010
It wouldn’t be a trip through Umbria without a Bea wine.
From the importer: References in the archives of Montefalco, the beautiful hill town in Umbria, document the presence of the Bea family in this locality as early as 1500. This tiny estate is the classic Italian fattoria, producing wine, raising farm animals for trade and home consumption and working the land to produce olives, fruits and vegetables. To this day, the Bea family raises and produces much of what they consume on a daily basis. Paolo Bea, the senior member of the family, is the guiding force behind the production of this series of intense and idiosyncratic wines
The entire property encompasses 15 hectares: 5 of which are dedicated to the vineyards, 2 to olives, and the remainder to the fruits, vegetables and grains that are grown. Sagrantino is the predominant grape, covering 60% of the vineyard surface. The Pipparello vineyard is a hilltop site in Montefalco at 1300 feet above sea level. The ultimate wine is a blend of roughly 60% Sangiovese, 25% Montepulciano and 15% Sagrantino.
Pick to Win
I think that the tough finish moves this one to Diego Ulissi, who I think will be able to go clear on the final climb and get enough of a gap to hold on. Whether he does that from the break or from the main field remains to be seen.