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Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia stage 7 preview: GC contenders to crunch in multi-mountain marathon

'For sure we'll see a big battle between GC riders.' Buzzsaw-shaped stage packs potential for ambush, attack, and sending sprinters out the back.

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SCALEA, Italy (VN) – Classification contenders, breakaway kings, and bunch sprinters will all see potential, problems, and pain in stage 7 of the Giro d’Italia.

Friday’s multi-mountain march from Diamante to Potenza packs all the potential for an explosive stage that could blow the GC to bits and bring sprinters to their knees.

“Tomorrow is a really long stage with a lot of meters of climbing – 4,000 meters ascent. For sure we will see a big battle between the GC riders,” said Ineos Grenadiers road captain Salvatore Puccio.

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Diving out of Diamante and tracking north through to Potenza, stage 7 stacks four categorized climbs into a rude and rugged route that accumulates more uphill than any rider may want so early in the race.

With no centerpiece summit and climbing starting early, stage 7 will be a wild ride that could see attacks could going long, and traps being laid.

“I think ideally it would be a day for the breakaway and the peloton calls it a truce or something,” classification contender Hugh Carthy told VeloNews. “But you never know. These races are pretty open right now. I’m sure if there’s an opportunity to attack and someone sees their moment, they’ll do it.”

Giro stage 7: It’s bumpy, it’s bruising and it could be a barnstormer.

Aggressive riders like Richard Carapaz could make hay Friday.

The Ecuadorian launched a surprise long-range raid at the Volta a Catalunya in March and could try a repeat on the parcours into Potenza on a mission to claw back time to pink jersey rival Simon Yates.

Going long may be a GC rider’s best chance if they want to seize the stage Friday. A flat final 20km could neutralize small gaps and bring the favorites to a reduced sprint.

Riders that were rumbled on the Etna ascent earlier this week like Tobias Foss, Tom Dumoulin, and Vincenzo Nibali will be minded to move. Team BikeExchange-Jayco will be under pressure to exert control of a pink jersey not yet in their grasp, and Trek-Segafredo’s GC chancer Juan Pedro López will be pushed to the limit, to limit the damage.

What, how, and when it happens is unknown. But what is certain is that there will be a critical classification clash Friday.

Sprinters in a sweat

The action won’t all be in the front end of the race. Sprinters are already in cold sweats and calculating time-cuts in a stage that could call time on their Giro.

“It’s a really difficult day. There is not a moment we can go into a gruppetto and there is a risk that there can be small groups, Groupama-FDJ leadout ace Jacopo Guarnieri told VeloNews. “When it’s a long climb you can pace yourself, but tomorrow is up and down all day, it’s going to be very hard.”

Mark Cavenish and Caleb Ewan were both dropped on a four percent ascent on stage 5.

“Cav” and Caleb will be counting every pedal stroke on the roads to Potenza.

The Diamante-Blockhaus dangerzone

Friday’s Calabria-Basilicata bruiser is just an opening taste of a trilogy of tough stages that could make or break any rider’s pink jersey designs.

A punchy circuit race around Naples for stage 8 won’t offer the legs any chance of a rest before a savage stage up to Blockhaus on Sunday.

“The last three stages of the first week are really hard.” Romain Bardet said. “The one before the Napoli stage [i.e., stage 7]  has a massive amount of elevation …. If it’s racing hard there, there could be some differences. Blockhaus there could be some big gaps there.”

Also read: Bardet poised for Blockhaus raid after smooth Giro d’Italia start

Take a good look at the GC standings before Friday’s stage. It could look a lot different 72 hours later.