Fernando Gaviria met the expectations of Spokenforks yesterday, bursting through the pack to take his second stage win of this year’s Giro d’Italia and support what is becoming a serious claim to the maglia ciclamino. Stage 6 looks to be an opportunity to let the breakaway seize the initiative, allowing the peloton a simpler day in the saddle, but the sprinters will be eager to push onwards if they sense there is a win up for grabs. The 217km route from Reggio Calabria to Terme Luigiane features two categorised climbs, a large flat section of almost 80km and a final salvo of hills which crescendo with a 10% ramp up to the finish line. With many teams happy to send riders up the road in hope of joining the day’s breakaway, the opening kilometres are expected to be extremely fast, taking a while for a successful move to finally get away.
Omar Fraile enjoyed a great Tour of Yorkshire, working impressively for his Team Dimension Data leader Serge Pauwels, bossing the pack of contenders on the final stage to ensure his teammate took the overall win and himself second place on the general classification. He has had a relatively low profile thus far, hopefully due to keeping his powder dry in hope of performing well on a stage such as this, utilising the late rolling terrain and final rise to the line as a springboard to victory.
Enrico Battaglin has been mixing it up in the sprints during this first week of racing, yet the Italian rider has a greater talent for making the most of these days built for the breakaway. Battaglin has the strength to work hard as part of a small group, while his prowess against a gradient should make him a standout contender if he arrives into the final kilometres in a race winning position.
Nathan Haas will be another Team Dimension Data rider tasked with animating the day’s racing, performing strongly during the Spring and coping well with the stresses of crosswinds during the first few stages. Equally adept at winning solo or from a reduced bunch, Haas will look to accelerate hard in the closing meters, opening up a gap to his rivals which will be difficult to pull back if allowed to grow to greatly.
José Gonçalves is a familiar face amongst the breakaways throughout the season and could well be asked to join the day’s moves once again by Team Katusha – Alpecin. The stage itself might not prove tough enough to really draw the best showing from the Portuguese rider, while having since moved from Caja Rural last year, he is unlikely to enjoy the same freedom he was previously afforded at grand tours to test himself.
Dario Cataldo will be a potential favourite for Astana to try and secure stage honours today, aiming to place him amongst the race deciding move with the expectation of having him see off any remaining rivals with his strong sprinting capabilities. If the Italian rider does manage to make all the right moves, it will be interesting to see how well he copes with the final 10% gradient in the closing kilometre.
Those who have all showed previous form on similar grand tour stages as today include Carlos Verona, Giulio Ciccone, Chad Haga and Alberto Losada.
1st Omar Fraile 2nd Dario Cataldo 3rd Enrico Battaglin