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2015 Giro d’Italia – Stage 3 Preview

T15_MadonnaDC_2_alt

What happened on Stage 2

Elia Viviani timed his sprint to perfection in Genova and overhauled Moreno Hofland on the last meters to score his maiden victory in a Grand Tour. Thanks to this win, Viviani is now first in the points classification, while Michael Matthews is the new leader of the overall standings, ahead of his fellow countryman, Simon Gerrans. Otherwise, it was a tough day for AG2R’s Domenico Pozzovivo, who was caught behind a crash and came to the line 69 seconds behind the pink jersey contenders, his podium ambitions receiving a tough blow early in the race.

What comes now

This stage has a mostly challenging and rough course (with a total difference in altitude of nearly 2 300 meters over 136 kilometers), with the exception of the last 10 kilometers. The first 110 kilometres feature a never-ending series of curves switching in both directions, undulations, climbs and descents on narrow mountain roads. The route starts in Rapallo and first takes in the Ruta di Camogli climb, just a few kilometres after the start, followed by Colle Caprile (second category climb, 6,5 km, 4% average gradient).

The course then clears the Scoffera climb, runs across Torriglia and skirts around Lago del Brugneto. It plummets down into Montebruno, with some technical sections, then climbs up again to the Barbagelata summit (second category climb, 5,7 km, 8% average gradient), followed by a very long descent (with a technical first half, up to Passo della Scoglina) leading to Chiavari and, eventually, to the finish.

The final seven kilometres of the stage course roll along via Aurelia. The route is mainly flat, with the classic undulations of coastal roads. Two kilometres before the finish in Sestri Levante (a town mentioned by Dante Alighieri in Canto 19 of “The Divine Comedy”), a tunnel protecting against rockfall (almost entirely open, with “windows” along the side facing the sea) leads to a short descent, which ends some 1 200 m before the finish. With 850 m to go, a roundabout causes a slight offset in the route. The home straight is 850-m long, on 6.5-m wide asphalt road.

Looking at the profile, it’s obvious that this is a stage in which Michael Matthews can shine, the Aussie having a big chance to bag his second Giro d’Italia victory, after the Montecopiolo one, in 2014. Very strong on the climbs and with a fast finish, Matthews also counts on a team that can control the last kilometers of the race, when it’s all going to become hectic. After having a great Spring so far, which saw him finishing on the podium in the Criterium International and taking a win in Vuelta al Pais Vasco (ahead of Matthews), Fabio Felline is another important contender, as he shouldn’t have any problems making it over the climbs, all while staying fresh for the finale.

Etixx-Quick Step has had a pretty poor start to the Giro, missing on the podium in the team time trial and losing Pieter Serry, who crashed and broke his collarbone, so the Belgian team needs a good result fast, and the man who can bring it is Gianni Meersman. Besides these three, other cyclists who can be in contention on Monday are Grega Bole, Juan Jose Lobato, Luka Mezgec and Simon Gerrans (if anything is to happen to Michael Matthews).

It will be for the 5th time that a Giro d’Italia stage will finish in Sestre Levante, after 1960, 1962, 2006 and 2012. At the previous visit, Lotto-Belisol’s Lars Ytting Bak took the win, after being in the breakaway all day. Sandy Casar came second, Costa Rica’s Andrey Amador was third, while Joaquim Rodriguez stayed in command in the general classification.

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