Lotto-Soudal on a roll
André Greipel won his second stage of the 2016 Giro d’Italia, making it three wins in three stages for the Belgian team. The squad in red has already achieved more than most of the teams taking part in the Giro could possibly wish for after the whole three weeks.
Greipel’s two sprint wins bookend a solo victory in the mountains for Tim Wellens yesterday. Not only that, but Greipel is in the points classification lead and Wellens the mountains classification lead.
It’s a cliché in professional cycling that the victories are about team-work, but with Lotto-Soudal you sense that they really are. After his victory on Thursday, Wellens was back sat in front of Greipel putting in some hard work.
Number of sprint stages not won by a German so far: 0
There have been four straight sprint stages so far in the 2016 Giro, and all four of them have been won by German riders. It’s two apiece for Marcel Kittel and André Greipel, confirming once again that the nation is heading back to the top of professional cycling. Had Kittel not suffered from a mechanical problem in the final 5km, he would have been one of the top men contesting the win. Instead, he relinquished his lead in the points classification to his compatriot.
Let us also not forget that it’s a Dutch rider on a German team who currently leads the race, too. German cycling is still in a recovery process after a series of doping shocks that rocked the sport, and led to the shelving of live coverage of the Tour de France on German TV. Now German cycling fans have a new set of world-class heroes who have firmly established themselves at the top.
Watch: Giro d’Italia 2016 contenders guide
Giro medics were fast to act after Moreno’s crash
Aerial shots of Javier Moreno lying on the road after a crash were enough for those watching to hold their breath. Pro cycling has had more than its fair share of severe injuries in recent years. What was amazing to watch was the speed with which the race’s medical staff attended to the Movistar rider, they arrived literally within seconds of the incident.
Within only a few minutes more, Moreno had been examined and placed on a stretcher. Reports from the team indicate that he has broken his collarbone: serious enough, but it could have been worse. The Giro’s medical staff must be applauded for the way they handled the incident.
The contenders’ teams are not going to sit around
Anyone tuning into into the final 10km of the stage would be forgiven for thinking this was just another flat sprint stage where there was no change in the general classification. And, indeed, that was the conclusion. But what happened earlier in the day shows that several of the main contenders’ teams are not going to pass up on any opportunity to put pressure on rivals.
Over the first classified climb of the day – Le Svolte di Poppoli – a group of over 50 riders split off from the front of the peloton, including race leader Tom Dumoulin. The pace settled down eventually, and a more regular break formed but there would have been a lot of looking around in the lead group to see who was there or not.
Later on, Cannondale hit the front of the race as the headwind picked up, and the peloton started to form into echelons. Without any clear sprint contender, it looked as though they were riding hard for Rigoberto Uran, perhaps trying to distance any GC men caught napping at the back. In the end, the peloton came together once more, but we can’t wait to see what happens in the mountains.
How will the GC contenders fare in Sunday’s time trial?
IAM Cycling lose two riders
Swiss outfit IAM Cycling lost two riders overnight, with Matteo Pelucchi missing the time cut at the end of stage six by 46 seconds and Larry Warbasse forced to drop out of the race with persistent back pain. It leaves the squad with just seven riders in the race.
That didn’t stop Stefan Denifl from getting himself into the day’s main break to give the squad some exposure. However, what they really need is a Grand Tour stage win as the squad seeks a co-sponsor, and high-profile victories always help.
With Marcel Wyss the team’s highest-placed rider overall in 37th place and Leigh Howard missing out in the sprints, the squad will have to continue to try its luck with breaks and attacks. There’s always Heinrich Haussler.