Stage 7: Frosinone to Foligno, 211km
Nacer Bouhanni came off Luka Mezgec‘s wheel, overtaking him and runner-up Giacomo Nizzolo in the final 30 metres, to take his second stage victory and the red points jersey.
All about the maglia rossa
After yesterday’s multiple pile-up on slick roads, which ended the Fight for Pink for some and dented the ambitions of others, most would have welcomed today’s rain-free flattish stage where they could lick their wounds ahead of this weekend’s sortie into the medium mountains.
The maglia rossa (the red points jersey) is the only one not officially held by race leader Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) who, in addition to the maglia rosa, has the jerseys for the best young rider and the King of the Mountains. Ownership of the points jersey passed two days ago to Elia Viviani (Cannondale) who has been fighting every intermediate sprint to extend his slender lead of four points over its previous holder, stage four winner Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ).
The five-man break did their best to stay away, and frankly it was a bit nip and tuck at times, but the combined might of Cannondale, FDJ, Lotto-Belisol and, towards the end, Trek eventually saw them gobbled up as the peloton sped towards the line. It was yet another technical finish, with the last corner just 150 metres from the finish line. Although spots of rain tantalisingly spotted the camera lens, and the sky darkened overhead, the finish remained thankfully dry. Even so Movistar’s Fran Ventoso took a tumble through the twisty run for home. Come the last corner it was every sprinter for himself, their trains having been exhausted pulling back the break. Nizzolo looked to be home and dry before Nacer landed his knockout punch.
There were no changes to general classification. Race leader Matthews didn’t quite have the legs after his exertions yesterday but he finished fourth to retain the leader’s jersey and maintain his ambitions in the other competitions. With further flat stages to come – the next one on Tuesday – this is a competition which is set to go all the way to Trieste with a number of riders in strong contention, including the current race leader. It wasn’t quite the tedious stage that Tim had hoped for but at least no one came a real cropper.
Given how many riders kissed the tarmac at speed yesterday, shredding their kit and forcing team management to make urgent calls to their kit providers for additional supplies, it was a wonder that the list of DNFs and DNSs wasn’t longer.
But bike riders have an amazing capacity to withstand pain and today many wore the badges of their battles with bandages on knees and elbows. It’ll be painful for the next few days, as aptly put by Belkin’s Rick Flens this morning:
Conclusion, once on the ground slippery roads are not that slippery any more 😞 now to the start and switch on the survival modus.
— rick flens (@RickFlens) 16 Mai 2014
Many more are grinning and bearing broken bones. They’ll be suffering until the bitter end in Trieste.
VeloVoices riders of the day
In recognition that they’ve held the leader’s jersey since the start in Belfast, and won two stages (the team time trial and stage six) I’m nominating the entire Orica-GreenEDGE team. You have to admire a team that sets itself specific targets, particularly in grand tours, and then achieves them. Brett Lancaster has been forced to retire and Svein Tuft, the first wearer of this year’s maglia rosa, is banged up but they’ve worked intelligently to achieve their objectives and will probably wave goodbye to the maglia rosa tomorrow after honouring it for seven days.
As the race heads into its second weekend, an honourable mention should go to the wild card teams – Androni Giocattoli, Bardiani, Colombia and Neri Sottoli – who have played their roles to perfection, animating the stages thus far. Whether one of them can win a stage, waltz off with a jersey, or finish up the GC remains to be seen but we wish them the best of luck in their endeavours.
Stage 7 result
1. Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) 5:16:05
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) same time
3. Luka Mezgec (Giant-Shimano) s/t
4. Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) s/t
5. Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) s/t
1. Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) 29:34:19
2. Cadel Evans (BMC) +0:21
3. Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) +1:18
4. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) +1:25
5. Steve Morabito (BMC) same time
6. Matteo Rabottini (Neri Sottoli-Yellow Fluo) s/t
7. Ivan Santaromita (Orica-GreenEDGE) +1:47
8. Fabio Aru (Astana) +1:51
9. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol) +1:52
10. Ivan Basso (Cannondale) +2:06
Points leader: Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ).
Mountains classification: Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE).
Best young rider: Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE).
Team classification: Astana.