Another relatively long day for the bunch on Stage 6 of the Giro d’Italia, beginning in Castrovillari and lasting 189km to finish atop a small rise into Matera. Given the immediate ascent from the start, it should not take too long for the breakaway to form, perhaps consolidating its composition by the time the road begins heading downhill from 52km; lasting all the way to the day’s only categorised climb.
The Category 3 Millotta lasts for 4.7km and averages 6.9%, not really straying much from this gradient until it eases slightly in the final kilometre. It is here that some teams will seek to apply pressure upon the pure sprinters, aiming to send them packing before the final 10km lights the touch paper to the day’s fight for stage honours.
Peter Sagan is beginning to look a force on the bike once again, maybe not close to his very best, but certainly close to the sort of condition which the vast majority of the peloton will struggle to match. He has the teammates to control the race and keep him well positioned, while the rises in the final run into the finish are well within his abilities, where the slight drag to the line is unlikely to bother him.
Diego Ulissi kept his powder dry yesterday and will now be firmly set on throwing his hat into the ring once more on Stage 6. His form has been extremely good since the season resumed during the summer, though for a rider who performs so well on inclines to the finish line, today’s offering looks too easy for him. Only if Team UAE Emirates set a fearsome pace can he hope of gaining an advantage over his rivals on far from ideal terrain.
Michael Matthews did not perform as strongly as expected on Stage 2, where despite his great showing at the world championships, he was unable to bridge across with Peter Sagan to the move of Diego Ullisi late on. Today is an easier offering than that, though he will want his teammates to set a good tempo on Millottai n order to make life difficult for his rivals, who could also be caught out by the undulating and technical finale.
Arnaud Démare survived the rigours of Stage 4 better than many expected, producing a sprint which was just enough to beat Peter Sagan on the line, but it will take an ever greater defying of expectations to win today. The ascent of Millotta is not favourable for the French national champion, and given his strength yesterday, the likes of Bora and Sunweb will be even more motivated to send him out the back of the bunch early on. He needs to worry about survival before he can dream of victory, but if present in the final kick, there is a great chance of him doubling up.
Davide Ballerini continues to develop this season and his showing on Stage 4 gives good reason to include him in the list of contenders once again. He is likely to find support scarce due to the team’s commitment to the maglia rosa, as well as having to deal with the fatigue of defending the jersey yesterday too, making a stage winning performance a great ask of the Italian.
Others to consider are Andrea Vendrame, Enrico Battaglin, Ben Swift, Davide Cimolai and Mikkel Honoré.
1st Michael Matthews 2nd Peter Sagan 3rd Davide Ballerini