By David Hunter
Stage 3 Recap
We got some rain and wind, but not enough to have a significant impact on the race. We had a few crashes, but all the main riders managed to rejoin the peloton. In the crazy, final 2km, it was Cannondale trying to boss the sprint for Viviani, but they got pushed out the way by Edvald Boasson Hagen. The Norwegian hit the front at the right time, but Viviani got in between him and Swift. Despite this, Swift easily passed the Italian, but coming from way back was the flying Marcel Kittel. He made up a seemingly impossible distance, to pip victory at the very end. 2 in a row for the birthday boy.
Stage 4 Giovinazzo – Bari 112km
After the first rest day, the organisers have been kind to the riders. They’ve decided to give them a short stage, although it’s not easy.
Once in Bari, the riders face 8 laps of an 8.25km circuit.
The profile is very boring, but take a look at the city circuit.
The final 1.5km features 5 tight bends, including the final, slow left hander. The finishing straight is 350 metres long and 8 metres wide.
Now, of course, Marcel Kittel is the overwhelming favourite. He has proven that he is the quickest in the field, by a clear margin, but it is very rare for a rider to win 3 consecutive stages in a grand tour. It would be the first time since 1980, for a rider to do this in the Giro.
The big man is going to break all sorts of records in his career, so the history books don’t really count too much with him.
He’s actually achieved his wins from poor positions. In stage 2, it was Bouhanni that was in pole position but Kittel’s power saved him. On that day he was very fortunate not to be boxed in. Same story in stage 3, poor positioning but his amazing power saved the day. There are only so many times he can save himself. Giant – Shimano need to do a better job in protecting their star man.
His main rival in this type of finish is Nacer Bouhanni. He was also let down by bad positioning in stage 3, but FDJ will learn from this and will want to prove a point.
Cannondale have been all over the front of the peloton in the last 5km of the stages, but can’t maintain their control of the bunch in the final 1.5km. That’s because their lead-out men lack top-end speed. Viviani got himself into the best position in stage 3, but failed to out sprint Swift. That was a very worrying sign for the Italian.
Swift wasn’t great in stage 2, but came right back into things in stage 3. He needs to be at the front of the peloton to stand a chance of challenging for the stage. Can EBH deliver another perfect lead-out?
Nizzolo was 3rd in stage 2 but way down in 9th in stage 3. Can he seriously challenge for a stage?
The rest of the sprinters don’t seem to have the speed to challenge for the win.
The big question all the teams need to ask themselves is, “How do we beat Kittel?”.
I think it’s time for the others to bring out the dark arts of sprinting. As seen in many races, well positioned teammates can make it very difficult for a rider to challenge for the win. The other teams need to gang up on the German and stop allowing him clear runs in the finale.
The other option is the perfect the lead-out. The final straight is only 350 metres long, so come out of the corner with 1 teammate in front of you and only start the sprint at 200 metres, thus denying Kittel the chance of hitting top speed.
I’m getting bored of the Kittel dominance and think it’s time for a change. The end of the stage is messy and Kittel is not always well positioned. It’s time for FDJ to deliver Bouhanni and watch him take the victory.
Related: Giro 2014 general preview:https://bicis.frangandara.net/giro-ditalia-2014-general-preview/
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