Naples > Naples 163km
Well, what a mess that was. Evenepoel hit the deck twice, he’s a lucky boy that neither time resulted in serious injury. It’s amazing what a wee bit of rain does in this part of the world, the roads are like ice. Cavendish won the last sprint in Naples, all the way back in 2013, can he roll back the clock and take his 17th Giro stage win?
There should be a fair bit of sun, but there’s still a chance of rain. As you already know, that’s bad news for those wanting to stay on their bike.
This cat 2 climb starts after 40km of racing. It’s a hard climb, but it depends on how the bunch want to ride it.
We’re in downtown Naples, it’s not known for great roads. The finish is relatively straightforward, the last proper corner is with 2.3km to go. From that point the road does bend a few times, but this will be taken at top speed.
Before looking at stage 6, I want to take a moment and go back to stage 5. You could hear the groans when the break rolled off the front, people demanding to see more riders attacking and going for the break. Yes, it would give us a lot more entertainment, but put yourself in the shoes of the riders for a moment.
In the neutral zone, it would be made clear that the sprint teams would chase everything down. Riders come to this race with a matchbox, the likes of Evenepoel have a box filled to the brim, but your average rider is lucky to have 15 matches. These matches must be carefully managed over a three-week period, why would they waste one when the sprint teams were going to chase? Remember, these matches are also used in the mountain stages to simply survive, it’s not 15 chances to go on the attack. Those who demand riders to do ridiculous things only show up their own naivety about the sport. Okay, rant over, time to look at stage 6.
We’ve got a big climb after 40km, the crest of which comes with over 110km to go. It’s hard enough climb to drop sprinters, but to do so will require teams to use up a few domestiques, making it very hard to continue the effort after the climb, as they’ll only have two or three riders left. Again, it’s about teams carefully guarding the matches of their riders. Jayco will not push the pace, neither will Trek or Alpecin. This is another stage where an “easy” break will go up the road and get chased down to set up a bunch sprint.
Crashes have meant we’ve not seen a proper lead out yet in this race, hopefully this stage is without incident. Alpecin are now without Sinkeldam, I would expect Krieger to fill his space, but they are weakened. Trek-Segafredo now have the best train, without doubt, but can they get it right? Hoole’s crash on Sunday has had an impact, hopefully he’s recovered to play a big part in the finale, they need him once under the flamme rouge.
Having a good sprint train is important, but not essential. DSM were in the perfect position today; they had three men for the final kilometre. Looking back, I have no idea why Dainese didn’t follow Märkl when he surged to the front. Letting Groves get his wheel was an enormous mistake, I would be having some serious words with the Italian after that showing. Groves took advantage, he won despite looking too far forward with 1km to go, he had great legs, but he also got a bit lucky. Those without a train will take heart from this, but I want to see the best train delivering the win.
Mads Pedersen – three chances, no win. Stage 2 wasn’t his fault, stage 3 he hesitated, stage 5 he didn’t have the legs to come past Groves. In this stage, there’s going to be a strong headwind for the sprint, he needs to box clever. I would get his train to sit back, let someone else hit the front early, then move in the final kilometre. It’s either that or get on the wheel of Gaviria and watch as he launches with 300 to go! I’ve picked him to win three stages, maybe I’m his bad luck charm. Sorry Mads.
Kaden Groves – took a great win today, his progression is there for all to see. Back in his BikeExchange days, he cut a frustrated figure. Time after time, he went to races without proper support, and found himself in poor positions. Since moving to Alpecin, the opposite is true. He now rides for a team who believe in him, and fully support him, it’s nice to see him repaying the team with big wins. With confidence high, he’ll hope for another win, and the points jersey.
Fernando Gaviria – it’s not been his race, but he’ll keep trying. He doesn’t have a long sprint train, but in Max Kanter, he’s got the fastest final man. If they get it right, Gaviria has a great chance of taking the win, if he doesn’t go early into the headwind.
Jonathan Milan – 1st and 2nd from the two sprints, that’s a brilliant record. Despite only having two men to guide, the young Italian is doing a great job. This is another good opportunity for him, his size helps in the closing stages. Looking at him, he reminds me a little of Marcel Kittel, a comparison I’m sure he’d be delighted with. Win this stage, and I’ll call him the new Kittel.
Mark Cavendish – is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Super Cav! Luckily, he doesn’t sound too bad after today’s crash. Cav was in a great spot, when he kicked, he seemed to be travelling faster than those in front, but his back wheel slipped on the white line. We’ll never know what could have been, but I would have had a fiver on Cav. This is another chance, but the group should be large, making it hard for him without proper support.
Alberto Dainese – today was his chance, it’s his fault he didn’t win. He’ll have to explain his decision to allow Groves get his lead out man’s wheel, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Will DSM stick with him or switch to Mayrhofer? I would switch.
Jake Stewart – some sprint trains are depleted, but FDJ are still at full strength, this is a stage where they can take advantage. Jakey isn’t a bunch sprinter, but I’d argue that the sprinting speed here isn’t anything he should be afraid of. If they nail the lead out, he can win.
Pascal Ackermann – has the speed to win but probably won’t.
Continue with Mads or dump him?
I’ll take a win for Mads Pedersen; it’s going to happen.
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