• Rúben Silva

Giro d'Italia Stage 6 Preview

Pascal Ackermann took his second win of the week in a rain-soaked sprint ahead of Fernando Gaviria and Arnaud Dèmare. The whole stage in fact was affected by the rain, with the times being neutralized with 9Km to go in the first passage through the finish line, the sprinters had a less dangerous approach to the finish and in the end the same riders saw themselves on the head of affairs.

Positive: Ackermann was really strong, he had a good leadup on the wheel of Gaviria despite almost crashing into Guarnieri. Also some riders a novelty in the Top10 as Simion, Biermans and Lonardi having a good result. Another mention for Ciccone, I've been loving his posture, reeling in some more KOM points today with little extra energy spent.

Negative: Viviani seemed to lack the legs in the end, there are talks of having deraileur issues but heli camera really didn't make it look like so. Mareczko was in for a chance that he rarely has to be up there, with a reduced peloton but failed to be in contention.

Stage 6 will be the first road stage to make some differences in the road. The main GC contenders should remain unscathed but with the hard finale the attacks and hard pace can create a selection in the bunch, see who are the riders the leaders will have at their best disposal in the mountains, and bonifications can motivate some important attacks aswell as a change of lead likely to happen.

One of the biggest stages of the race with 238 kilometers, with 18Km to go there's the summit of the main climb of the day, 15Km at 4.4% average gradient, it's a very constant climb but will be a long one, too long for many riders, and a 2.6Km climb at 5.4% with 11Km to go. From there on it's relatively flat to the finish and the outcome can be defined by luck and sense of opportunity.

The Weather

The wind won't be present in tomorrow's long drag, but the rain will... this is the rain accumulation in the area where the stage will be ridden, the start in Cassino will be really wet, there's a chance it won't be raining through the middle of the stage but it's a risk, the finish in San Giovanni Rotondo will be wet. It will be a dreadful day, very long with lots of rain again, this will make some riders quite exhausted in the end of the day.

The Favourites

Such a long stage, with the rain expected, no place for the favourites to attack and no outright favourites for the stage, it's a breakaway stage for sure.

We can point out Roglic and Yates as explosive climbers, Formolo, Mollema and Jungels could also profit from an explosive and rolling race in the final section. Although with the rain, it isn't likely to see them risking in those descents, as there it's more likely to create gaps than on the climbs themselves. In case of a bunch finish Ulissi would also be a natural name to consider as he's looking on very good form. Emirates would be one of the teams possibly interested in chasing tomorrow, but honestly I don't see it, and Jumbo-Visma won't want, in fact it's good for them to loose the lead of the race so they should have no issue with a big breakaway to escape. So with that, breakaway roulette?

Giulio Ciccone would be an obvious choice the way he's been riding, although a very hilly day there's only one categorized climb all day long, despite being a 2nd category it's a long price to pay for the possibility of those points. Thomas de Gendt is the other obvious name, and I must say it's a stage that suits him well, the climbs aren't steep and there's a lot of rolling terrain.

So of the mortals, who can go to the breakaway and have a reasonable chance to win the stage?

AG2R - Denz (Vuillermoz and Gallopin of course but they might not be allowed to go)

Androni - Masnada, Cattaneo

Astana - Hirt, Cataldo, Zeits, Villela, I.Izagirre

Bahrain - Pozzovivo

CCC - Antunes, De la Parte

Deceuninck - Knox, Serry

EF - Dombrowski, Kangert

FDJ - Madouas

Israel - Neilands

Mitchelton - Hamilton, Nieve

INEOS - Dunbar, Sosa, Henao

Katusha - Strakhov

Sunweb - Bakelands, Hamilton, Oomen, Power, Hindley

Trek - Brambilla

Emirates - Conti, Polanc

This is a huge list obviously, some teams like Jumbo or Bora won't have surely interest in sending riders in front or their lack in depth (Bora's case) to support their leaders, but that leaves all those riders, mainly not GC contenders at this point, riders with freedom to move. Who will win if it comes to this will of course depend on the size of the group, and number of riders per team there as the climbs are shallow enough for strenght in number to have a say.

Pure climbers won't have as much advantage, puncheurs, punchy climbers have a big say in it, so getting a powerful bulky rider will be more likely to see, not only as gravity won't be as harmful for them as in a steep climb, as in the cold and wet conditions those riders should be a little more confortable keeping composed.

Prediction Time

de Gendt, Oomen, Hirt, Cattaneo

Masnada, Conti, I.Izagirre, Ciccone

Roglic, Yates, Ulissi, Pozzovivo, Cataldo, Gallopin

I'm obviously expecting a breakaway to succeed tomorrow, first of the race. And my call for the win is Jan Hirt. He's been on superb form, in the Alps and Romandie, and he has lost over 10 minutes for the overall contention meaning he's no threat. Astana will be looking to protect Lopez, but with such a depth they won't opt out of such a chance, and Hirt is a very fitting rider for the scenario.

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