2015 Giro d’Italia – Stage 7 Preview
What happened on stage 6
After a textbook lead-out of Greg Henderson, André Greipel claimed his 13th career win in a Grand Tour, and his third in the Giro, following the ones of 2008 and 2010. By doing this, he climbed to fifth in an all-time list of German stage winners in Grand Tours, behind Erik Zabel (20), Rudi Altig (18) and Marcel Wüst (14). It was a crazy finish, which led to a crash festival because of a spectator trying to take a photo. Many riders hit the ground, including Rigoberto Uran (with no serious consequences), Nippo-Vini Fantini’s Daniele Colli – who fractured his arm – and race leader Alberto Contador, who ended up with a dislocated left shoulder, and although he is in pain, will try to be at the start of Friday’s stage.
What comes now
With a length of 264 kilometers, this is the longest stage of the 2015 Giro, and the longest in any edition of the Corsa Rosa of the last 15 years. Its profile features no really challenging points, but the final part of the route is quite wavy. The first 70 kilometers run along the Aurelia highway, the route then enters the Maremma region past Montalto di Castro. Rolling along gentle undulations, the route hits the towns of Tuscania and Vetralla, and skirts around the urban agglomeration of Rome.
The sole categorized climb of the day is set in Monterotondo (4th category, 2,5 kilometers, 5,1% average gradient), on top of a shorspurt. After rolling past Tivoli, through the hamlet of Ponte Lucano, the peloton will be confronted with the last 60 kilometers, wavier and more complicated, in terms of both course and profile, that lead to the finish in Fiuggi, along Via Prenestina.
After the town of Piglio, some 15 kilometers from the finish, a U-turn leads to a short descent (where the road is slightly narrower at points); from here, the stage course takes the new Via Anticolana. The last 10 kilometers run gently uphill. After crossing the Monte Porciano tunnel (672 meters – straight and slightly uphill), 5 kilometers from the finish, the route reaches Via Prenestina through large, well-paved roads, still climbing slightly. Upon entering urban Fiuggi, the road turns left, and climbs at a gradient of 2% up to the last kilometer, where the route becomes slightly steeper. The home straight is 350-m long, on 7-m wide asphalt road, with a gentle 3-4% gradient.
Having such a long stage and a testing finish will sure lead to a nice breakaway going ahead up the road, with the hope of giving the slip to the sprinters. If the cyclists that are at the front are caught, then attacks will come on the undulating roads to the finish, before the last climb. In case none of these goes to the end, Michael Matthews will become the main favorite for the win, the 24-year-old Australian having a big opportunity to take his second victory at this year’s edition, after the one in Sestri Levante.
Orica-GreenEdge can play at two heads, with Simon Gerrans attacking in the finale and paving the way for a sprint of Matthews if he gets caught. Philippe Gilbert is another rider who is very likely to go full gas in the last kilometers, same thing applying to Giovanni Visconti. On the other hand, if it will all play out at a sprint, besides Matthews, other cyclists who have a fair chance of nabbing the win are Fabio Felline, Enrico Battaglin, Grega Bole, Francesco Gavazzi and Juan Jose Lobato.
It will be for the ninth time that a Giro d’Italia stage will end in Fiuggi. At the previous visit, in 2011, Alessandro Petacchi was in a perfect position coming into the last 500 meters, but he launched his sprint to early and was overhauled by Francisco Ventoso, who took his first victory in the race. Back then, the top 10 consisted of a mix of sprinters and GC riders, with Danilo Di Luca and Michele Scarponi also fighting for a good place.