Nicolas Roche moved up three places to 16th on general classification at the Giro d’Italia yesterday after finishing in the same time as stage winner Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal).
The Irish rider was fortunate to be on the right side of a split in the peloton on the run-in to the line in Foligno as those who got caught out lost nine seconds in the race for the pink jersey.
The rather flat seventh stage of the race was always destined to be decided by a bunch sprint and it was German powerhouse Greipel who took the honours for the second time in three days.
Following teammate Tim Wellens’ win on Thursday, the Belgian team became the first to win three stages in-a-row since Movistar completed the feat in 2013.
Dutchman Tom Dumoulin still leads Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) overall by 26 seconds, with big favourites Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) at 41 seconds, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) at 47 seconds and Mikel Landa (Team Sky) at 1:08.
Dumoulin faces a challenging weekend with a dirt road climb before the finish in Arezzo today and then the rolling 40-kilometre time trial tomorrow.
“The time trial is a really important stage,” said Dumoulin.
“It’s one of my key points of the Giro for me. But it suits me and I hope to win it. It’s difficult to tell how much time I can gain on my rivals but I like the course, it’s up and down, but it means it also suits other riders like Nibali too.”
“Of course I’m a little scared of the third week, I didn’t go to altitude or train in the mountains for this Giro. I really surprised myself this week but I know the last week will be very hard.”
Today’s stage takes the riders 186 kilometres from Foligno to Arezzo and it should prove to be an interesting stage which could significantly impact the overall standings.
The first 150 kilometres are rather straight-forward but there’s a category two ramp that climbs to 827 metres with less than 20 kilometres to go.
Six of the kilometres on the climb are on gravel road and that’s a perfect opportunity for a late attack, so those with eyes on taking the pink jersey before tomorrow’s crucial time-trial stage could well strike out for stage glory here.
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