Giro D'Italia 2018: Stage 7 - Pizzo to Praia a Mare (159 kms)

Finally moving on to the Italian mainland after days in Israel and Sicily. Today was not a "crucial" day, i mean, each day counts but the only major highlight of the day was going to be the sprint at the end. And even if the Ciclamino Jersey leader Elia Viviani(QuickStep Floors) didn't win, it wouldn't change anything.

I'm underplaying the importance of today's stage because it is a vivid contrast from yesterday's stage, which shook up the GC. Days like today are the days when the leaders cruise, try to be safe and it is the sprinters who rack up some wins.

Quick preview, Maglia Rosa was with Mr. Simon Yates(Mitchelton-Scott) who took it yesterday with a very well timed attack on Mount Etna. Maglia Azzura was with Esteban Chaves(Mitchelton-Scott), and would pretty much remain unchanged barring some bizarre accident.

The riders would cover 159k today, from Pizzo to Praia a Mare.

It was mostly flat, no categorised climbs but a nice 3.6k 3.6% bump, 19k from the finish, which would weed out some of the "heavier" sprinters and a downhill 9k from the finish, which would make the run-in interesting.

The day started and the attacks started, but they didn't get too far. You know why? Because a guy named Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) was in the bunch of people trying to get away. A man of his prowess can ride the entire 100 miles as a TT and not even break a sweat, so no, the peloton wasn't going to let Mr. Martin just walk away.

With 6, a nicely strung out Peloton backed off finally when Tony Martin was back in and then the breakaway, comprising of Davide Ballerini(Androni), Markel Irizar(Trek-Segafredo) & Maxim Belkov (Katusha-Alpecin) was allowed to move on. The more you watch cycling, the more intriguing it becomes how much power the peloton holds. Like 2 days back, they were cruising at 35 kmph, yesterday they were banging 46 kmph and today again, with Martin ahead, it was fiercely fast.

And when it eases off, it simply goes on cruise control. 15k down and the break had a nice 3 minute advantage! The leader's team, Mitchelton-Scott started the pursuit with the guys ahead by 4:30, and within 20k their lead was down to 2:30. The average speed in the 1st hour was 41.9 kmph.

Please accept my apology, nothing really happened, it's a plain old report. It might even seem bland after Etna, but that's cycling for you.

Anyways, QuickStep took over the pace making, with youngster and Grand tour Rookie Remi Cavagna & the big man, Elia Viviani at the front. Kinda weird to see Viviani at the front so soon, from what I know and according to Eurosport's Brian Smith, "The key to win a sprint at the end is to be invisible throughout the day", which if i'm honest I've seen Peter Sagan do MANY times. Despite his stature and cameras hunting for him, he remains invisible like he did during the World Championships in Bergen last year.

83k to go, saw the sunshine disappear and rain come down. Luckily it was passing affair and didn't cause a lot of damage. After a whole lot of nothing, came the 1st intermediate sprint, which was won by Ballerini and from the peloton, which was 1:50 behind, it was Viviani, taking 4 points and extending his massive lead in the points classification. Viviani has 137 points and in 2nd place is EF Education Drapac's Sacha Modolo with 55 points, Viviani can wheelie his way through these sprints.

No day is complete without a Team Sky mishap, and this time it was Wout Poels(who I am BIG Fan of) having a flat with 31k remaining. The 2nd intermediate sprint was taken by Belkov, with the break at 1:50 with under 30k to go. Viviani, again, took the sprint from the Peloton.

The peloton began to pick up speed, enough time for the men at front. With the climb starting at 17k (4k climb), the break unravelled, Belkov and Irizar both fell back and were caught within 2k. And given the kind of pace setting that was happening, pretty soon Ballerini was back in the bunch too.

Alex Dowsett(Katusha-Alpecin, who you can follow on Strava; and see for yourself how hard these men ride) and Diego Ullisi(UAE Team Emirates) both attacked briefly, but no long range attacks happened. 9k to go saw a fast downhill and the Peloton was going at 70 kmph, twitching nervously as they crossed some tunnels. One wrong braking by one guy and everything would fall apart. The road flattened with 5k to go, but still no definitive leader was present.

3k to go, Lotto-NL Jumbo moved to the front, with men from Trek Segafredo, EF Education Drapac and the blue sprint train of QuickStep, all there. 1k to go, Viviani was in perfect position, 3 lead out riders, Modolo and Sam Bennett(Bora-Hansgrohe) just tailing him perfectly. Viviani was at the helm of things, Bennett still on his wheel. Modolo began sprint with 200 meters to go, Viviani attacked but this time, cleverly in his tail, Bennett outwrestled Viviani in the last 50 meters and took the 1st Stage win for Bora-Hansgrohe.

Power stats, just bloody incredible(courtesy Velon CC, follow them if you haven't yet) :

Top 10 for the stage:

And all the jerseys(I think this is a better way of presenting, if anyone is keeping score of all the classification, I was doing this with the Tour De France blogs last year):

General Classification

Best Young Rider

Points Classification

KOM competition

Tomorrow is another uphill finish! Yay! It won't be like today. Thank you for reading!


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