The Giro d’Italia in an alternative universe.
This week’s Giro d’Italia has plenty in store. Today’s rest day sees riders travel from Cagliari down to Palermo. You could be forgiven for thinking there was no need for a full day’s rest but the two Island capitals are further apart than you’d think. Flying seems the only option with the Tirrenia ferry company promoting an eleven hour boat trip. Surely one of the remaining 195 riders would moan about a possible day at sea?
The first full week of the Giro starts with an ascent of Mt.Etna. We then head to Messina for a flat finish before an intriguing stage to Terme Luigane on Thursday. Friday’s stage could be the last true bunch sprint, Saturday has a drag to the line and Sunday promises big things with a summit finish on the Blockhaus.
Here’s how the week could – but almost certainly won’t – play out.
Tuesday: Cefalù › Etna (Summit Finish)
As Mt.Etna approaches, Nairo Quintana and Geraint Thomas are locked in a staring contest that the Welshman inevitably loses. Quintana later admits “it was an easy victory, I haven’t blinked in almost three months”. Everybody has forgotten Thibaut Pinot exists and the Frenchman floats away for an easy stage win. Vincenzo Nibali is dropped but Diego Rosa forgets what team he is on and paces his former captain back from the brink.
Wednesday: Pedara › Messina (Flat Stage)
Annoyed by his performance on Mt.Etna, Nibali attacks on the down slopes of the Andronico Sant’Alfio and works his way into a nine minute solo advantage. He becomes an overwhelming favourite but stops in Messina when he spots his childhood barber at roadside. He waits for the peloton to catch up before hopping back on his bike for the final 5km. Caleb Ewan enjoys the perfect leadout but is forced to swerve round an inflatable Kangaroo and gifts a second stage to Fernando Gaviria.
Thursday: Reggio Calabria › Terme Luigiane (Flat Stage)
After 406 people form a peaceful protest, Stefano Pirazzi is allowed to start Stage 6 wearing a Bardiani jersey from 2011. He joins the day’s breakaway but accidentally leaves them behind and wins with a six minute advantage over the peloton. He immediately fails a second drugs test and the stage is awarded to second place finisher Nathan Haas.
Friday: Castrovillari › Alberobello (Flat Stage)
Boredom forces Quick-Step to go crazy and they attempt to force a peloton split despite there being absolutely no wind. Nevertheless, Mikel Landa was catching up with Igor Anton and somehow finds himself losing thirty seconds. Andre Greipel wins the sprint and shouts ‘I’m going home! See you in July!’ as he crosses the line.
Saturday: Molfetta › Peschici (Undulating Stage)
Dimension Data send five riders in the morning break with Daniel Teklehaimanot and Omar Fraile eyeing up mountain points, Kristian Sbaragli and Nathan Haas eyeing up sprint points, and Ryan Gibbons “doing it for the laughs”. The only other rider in the break is UAE’s Matej Mohoric and somehow he outwits everybody citing his love of chess as a key contributing factor.
Sunday: Montenero di Bisaccia › Blockhaus (Summit Finish)
At the foot of the Blockhaus Movistar take control and they soon shred the peloton to a mere sixteen riders. Thomas becomes isolated and Dave Brailsford later calls the situation “a robotic numbers game”. Tom Dumoulin and Bob Jungels are both dropped early but form an alliance and somehow return to the front group with 500m to go. Quintana refuses to attack and Bauke Mollema takes a shock win.