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The beauty of tactics – The races within a race

One of the beautiful things about a stage race is that there are so many races going on within the race. To be sure, the big race at the Giro d’Italia is for the maglia rosa. To start, there’s always the scramble for a stage win – of which Alessandro Petacchi has now scored five – but there are also competitions for the Intergiro and King of the Mountain jerseys, as well as team classifications. Just because you may not be in contention for the overall prize does not mean that you don't have a lot to race for. Much of the excitement on today's stage or the previous stage was the long

By Thomas Prehn

One of the beautiful things about a stage race is that there are so many races going on within the race.

To be sure, the big race at the Giro d’Italia is for the maglia rosa. To start, there’s always the scramble for a stage win – of which Alessandro Petacchi has now scored five – but there are also competitions for the Intergiro and King of the Mountain jerseys, as well as team classifications.

Just because you may not be in contention for the overall prize does not mean that you don’t have a lot to race for. Much of the excitement on today’s stage or the previous stage was the long lead-outs for the sprinters. And it was a beautiful lead-out from Fassa Bortolo for their man Petacchi.

With points today going to both the Intergiro and mountain competition, there can be other things to race for. Going into the day Damiano Cunego of Saeco with 28 points in the King of the Mountains competition. In second place was Gerolsteiner’s Fabian Wegmann from the Gerolsteiner team with 17 points.

Wegmann managed to slip into an eight-man break that stayed of the front today for nearly 100 kilometers. It was a perfect move for a guy intent upon narrowing the KOM contest. With the pressure of defending the race leader’s jersey on Cunego’s Saeco team, the early break was a perfect move for Wegmann. While close to Cunego on KOM points, he was well down in the overall standings at the start of the day, sitting in 32nd at 6:43 out of first. In a long stage race like the Giro, the peloton is happy to allow a small, unthreatening group to get up the road so that riders can settle into a nice comfortable and steady pace.

Surely, Wegmann didn’t expect the break to succeed. With Fassa Bortolo intent upon racking up as many stage wins as possible, Petacchi’s team will almost always shut down an early break, usually somewhere within 20km of the finish. Knowing that, however, Wegmann had two Cat. 3 climbs to hit en route and added six points to his total. Add to that the fact that there were enough in the break to deny Cunego any points, and Wegmann had a very successful day, even though his group was caught well before the line..


Thomas Prehn is a former USPRO champion and author of the recentlyreleased “RacingTactics for Cyclists,” now available through VeloPress. If you have questions about tactics employed during a particularstage at the Giro d’Italia, send a note to WebLetters@InsideInc.comWe will try to answer a selection of questions on a regular basis duringthe Giro d’Italia.