Giro d’Italia 2021: preview of stage 8
Stage 8 of the Giro d’Italia brings us back to the mountainous profile that has become an emblematic facet of the race over the decades, posing threats to the general classification, and the chance of a breakaway victory.
Despite a grueling 12% kicker with just under 2 km to go, stage 7 was dominated by the sprinters. Fernando Gaviria attempted a move early after the leg strain, but Caleb Ewan chased him down before accelerating past the Colombian to claim his second stage victory at the Giro d’Italia this year.
Giro d’Italia 2021 guide
Profile of the Giro d’Italia Stage 8
The trend of alternating flat and mountainous stages continues where the record for the longest Giro 2021 climb to date is broken. The stage starts in Foggia and heads west towards Naples towards one of the southernmost points of Italy that the race reaches this year.
The first ascent of the stage is not categorized but is tiring at 3.9 km and more than 6% in average elevation. This could provide a scorecard for breakaway training if it isn’t already. Despite a few steeper ramps that follow, the first 100 kilometers go by without a proposed mountain point.
The first one a substantial effort of the day begins with 70 km remaining in the form of the Bocca della Selva.
Profile of Bocca della Selva
The climb is defined by its length rather than its slope. After a steady start where the average of the first 10 kilometers is less than 4.5%, the steepest slope of the climb follows before slowing down again in the final 4.5 kilometers. We can expect Ineos to control the climb to reduce but not decimate the peloton.
The course descends almost exclusively for the next 40 km before the last uphill 10 km kick. The final climb only starts in the last 3 km, the previous percentages are shallow enough in places to be described as a false flat. However, the last 3 kilometers see the slope grow at about 8% until the finish in Guardia Sanframondi.
Alberto Bettiol. Photo credit: LB / RB / CorVos / SWpix.com
We have already seen three breakaway wins in seven stages so far at the Giro d’Italia. Considering that the first stage was a time trial, the breakaway strike rate is 50% on the road stages. By evaluating the course and the race situation, there is a very real chance that the breakaway will win again.
the maglia rosa is still owned by the talented Hungarian Attila Valter and Groupama-FDJ. Although Valter can now aim to finish as high as possible in the GC, he is still not one of the best contenders for the pink jersey. Groupama-FDJ also does not have the strength to continue the breakaway all day on mountainous terrain. These factors lean towards a breakaway victory.
A top GC team like the Ineos Grenadiers or Deceuninck Quick-Step may like to take things forward. However, with a relatively simple approach compared to some of the later mountain stages, it will be difficult for Egan Bernal to create a meaningful separation from any of his rivals. It could also deter GC teams from aggressively pursuing the breakaway all day.
So, with a stalemate perhaps the most likely outcome in GC, let’s take a look at some of the breakaway candidates.
EF Education-Nippo has a real podium with Briton Hugh Carthy, but also has an array of great stage hunters. None more than Ruben Guerreiro who won a stage of the breakaway and the maglia azzurra Last year. Guerreiro packs a punch on short, steep climbs and will be a favorite if he arrives at the finish with others. He did not make the breakaway of Stage 6 which was won by Gino Mäder, but took a step earlier which was eventually introduced – it looks like he won’t be tied to Hugh Carthy’s hip and is allowed to play his own card. Alberto Bettiol has fantastic legs based on his Stage 4 climb in Sestola and is another great breakaway option for EF.
Trek-Segafredo has been on the offensive on the Giro d’Italia so far, present in several breakaways and their GC-man Giulio Ciccone cannot resist the attack on a daily basis. Bauke Mollema was forced to run on the breakaway of the sixth stage which undermined his legs, he is a favorite of the scene if given a more comfortable trip to the front of the race. Gianluca Brambilla and Jacopo Mosca are two other separatist candidates for Trek.
Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert stole the headlines when Taco van der Hoorn won an incredible breakaway a few days ago. They were aggressive after that and while there might be too much climbing for a Taco-double, they have a lot of options here. Quinten hermans and Kidney Taaramäe can venture out on the road together and this time the punchy finish might suit Hermans more than his Estonian colleague.
The Ineos Grenadiers rarely use the breakaway at Grand Tours but if they do Gianni Moscon is in electric form and will be hard to beat on the last hill.
Deceuninck Quick-Step also has several options and if Remco Evenepoel feels comfortable without a full team of helpers around him, Remi Cavagna and Mikkel Frølich Honoré are their best breakaway bets. Cavagna has yet to be seen in the breakaway but he can only resist for so long, while Honoré is a talented puncher who helped him win a stage at the Itzulia Basque Country Tour not so long ago. long time.
Astana Premier-Tech is another team with bullish GC goals, but can allow players like Luis León Sánchez or Gorka Izagirre their luck.
Lotto-Soudal and Cofidis are two teams without GC ambitions, so they will also seek to be present in the breakaway. Harm Vanhoucke is a great climber and Thomas De Gendt will surely have their eyes on the breakaway sooner or later. For Cofidis, Nicolas edet and Victor Lafay might be their best options.
Even if there is still more than 3000 meters of vertical drop to conquer, we believe that there could be a dead end in the final among the contenders for the GC. This leaves the breakaway with the stage victory within their grasp and servants from some key GC teams may be allowed to come back up the road. If he’s in the breakaway, Mikkel Frølich Honoré is perfectly suited to the course and could win in different ways, although he could be as a teammate all along. Instead, we support Alberto Bettiol to win the first stage of the Grand Tour of his career. He will be eager to make up for the missed opportunity to fight for the maglia rosa a few days ago.
Cover image: Stuart Franklin / Getty Images