An intriguing stage. The action should be on the flanks of Monte Vulture, an extinct volcano. But who will control the stage? The sprinters’ teams cannot and the GC teams won’t rush either.
Milan San Salvo: a crash with 4km to go derailed sprint trains coming before the 3km to go point also caught out some GC contenders like Tao Geoghegan Hart and Jay Vine. Along the San Salvo sea front it was Jonathan Milan who won and took an Italian win.
The Route: 210km, first along the coast past Termoli, then inland to Foggia and it’s all flat. The crucial part of the day is from Monticchio onwards where the race climbs the flanks of Monte Vulture. This is proper climbing on a twisting road.
From the top of the climb there’s 26km to the finish. It’s not as straightforward as it looks, there’s the twisty descent off the mountain first and then while the route picks up the main road below, this keeps twisting and turning, a slight advantage to a breakaway.
The Finish: ah, Melfi, a hilltop town with its castle and historic medieval centre. Forget that, today’s racing doesn’t go to the centro storico but Zona 167 instead, an area on the outskirts of town with some housing and workshops, and crucially a big truck parking area with enough space to accommodate the race and become the centre of the world for a day. There’s a small turn into the finish line and it’s uphill at 5% to the line.
The Contenders: a day for the breakaway? Riders can try to establish a lead early and hope to hold on.
Can the sprinters stay the course? The main climb is 6.3km at 6.4% and top and tail the climb and there’s 5km with more than 7%, normally too much for most but it’s down to the peloton to eject them as well. It’s where the likes of Michael Matthews (Jayco-Al Ula), Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) or Magnus Cort (EF Education-Easypost) although the latter hasn’t looked so lively this season and is talking about perking up for the latter half of the Giro.
Simone Consonni (Cofidis) is an Italian version of Bryan Coquard as a lightweight sprinter who is talented on the track but also with few wins these days.
Not long ago this would be terrain where Remco Evenepoel exploits the climb and then gets a gap and teams can’t bring him back on the twisty finale. But surely not.
Rota, Consonni, Groves, Albanesi
TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST. It’s on RAI for locals and worldwide on Eurosport/GCN.