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Well, well, well. Whoever said this Giro was going to be boring? Most people, to be fair, but we’ve been treated over the past few days to a whole range of surprises and delights, and it’s quite fitting that we are breaking the race down into manageable chunks of three stages at a time. Where stages 1-3 saw the GC race explode out of the starting blocks, stages 4-6 have seen a shift in focus, with the sprinters and the breakaway under the spotlight. Indeed, Tadej Pogačar hasn’t raced a pedal stroke in anger during the past three stages, which, given what we know of the man, shows a remarkable level of restraint.

Stage 4 was supposed to be another sprint day, and it was in the end, but not before a last gasp individual pursuit effort from INEOS Grenadiers track and all round time trial beast Filippo Ganna. This stage was all about safety concerns, as the mini-Milano-Sanremo featured an ascent of one of the Tre Capi of Monument fame – and more significantly, descent. The speed at which the peloton would stream down the Capo Mele, overlooking the Ligurian coast, heading to the finish line was cause for concern, but on the day, it was the rain earlier in the stage that actually caused trouble, with a couple of crashes and disaster for Biniam Girmay, as he came down twice and subsequently had to depart the race in an ambulance.

The final though, was mercifully devoid of accidents, though there was some serious damage done, mainly to the tarmac of the streets of Andora as Jonathan Milan delivered almost 2,000 watts through his pedals, proving if nothing else, the incredible resilience of Trek bikes, to win the stage ahead of Kaden Groves and Phil Bauhaus. While Pippo Ganna’s attack 4km from the end of the stage looked hopeful given his virtuosity over that distance on the track, the sheer weight of descending sprinters on a mission put paid to his hopes of a victory.

Stage 5 was yet another cracker that upset the script, the script being that maybe, probably, this would be another one for the sprinters. And it would have been, were it not for the pluck and spirit of a late breakaway quartet who, aided by a tailwind and a single-minded pursuit of glory, combined their strength to deliver the first breakaway win of the 2024 Giro, and the first win of 2024 for Team Cofidis, courtesy of Benjamin Thomas. The track star used his finishing speed to sparkling effect, overcoming the efforts of EF Education-EasyPost’s Michael Valgren, though simply to see Valgren up there and challenging was a gift in itself, following a long period out of the sport recovering from injuries caused by a serious crash. Oh, and in fashion news (deeply important to all cycling fans), Pogi finally matched his shorts to his jersey and went all pink.

All the jerseys, and a thumbs-up from Pogi, ahead of stage 6

Stage 6 from the Torre del Lago Puccini in Viareggio to Rapolano Terme showcased the finery of the Tuscan region, and once again the day began in beautiful sunshine, and we all sighed and remembered what we love about the Giro. It continued ‘Italy’s Greatest Hits’ with a visit to the Strade Bianche, and while the gravel sectors didn’t cause quite as much havoc as predicted, the anticipation of them was enough to keep everyone on their toes, so much so that the breakaway took over 90km to settle, taking in a long slog over the flat opening section, a shift in tempo as the peloton tackled a category 4 climb, and finally producing a group of six hopefuls just ahead of the first sterrato sector. From there it was peloton versus bunch, with more late attacks and a trio of riders at the front holding firm. They fought amongst themselves, Luke Plapp gaining some distance following a mistake on a roundabout from Pelayo Sanchez and Julian Alaphilippe who was caught up behind him, then those two inflicting the damage on Plapp in the final sprint for the line, where they went head-to-head in search of glory. It was Movistar's Sanchez who marked his Giro debut with his first Grand Tour victory.

A crash in the bunch held Juanpe Lopez up for a while, but he was able to catch back on, and Damiano Caruso finished flat on his back in the same incident, becoming the only major player to lose significant time on the GC, dropping over 15 minutes and 28 places.

Two days, two breakaway wins, two riders in second position who are absolutely BACK and who it’s an absolute joy to see contending at the sharp end of Grand Tour stage racing – Valgren and Alaphilippe, we salute you, and to all three stage winners – chapeau.

Throwback Thursday

Mathieu Fraisse takes us back to memorable stage wins by number… (and today, it’s actually Thursday!) There's some cracking nostalgia in here, so read on and enjoy (with video links for those of you who really want to immerse yourselves in the experience).

Stage 4 | 2007 : Salerne - Montevergine di Mercogliano (159km)

There’s a new cool kid in town!

Di Luca, Mazzoleni, Simoni, Cunego, Ricco, Bruseghin… La crème de la crème of Italian climbers is at the start of this 2007 Giro. 

And since 1997, Italians couldn’t be prouder of their local talents’ performances at their home Grand Tour: Il Giro is always won by an Italian rider! And if you’re tired of this Italian dominance, sorry to disappoint you but this year won’t be different as Di Luca eventually won the Maglia Rosa in Milan. 

But the main story is somewhere else. Stage 4 of 2007 Giro is iconic because it is the breakout race of a 22-year-old Luxembourgish rider who eventually went on to win the 2010 Tour de France and the 2009 Liège-Bastogne-Liège: Andy Schleck. 

While Italians were expecting a local battle between the names I previously mentioned, they were not expecting a lanky rider from CSC to join the fun on the slopes of Montevergine, even after an 8th place at Tour de Romandie earlier in the month.

After impressing everyone on this first mountain finish and while Italian riders were distributing stage wins between them (from the 9th to the 17th stage), Schleck never backed down and  eventually ended up 2nd of this Giro 2010, on his Grand Tour debut, winning the Maglia Blanca (best young rider)! The birth of a legend.

Youtube: from Ciclismo Grandi Giri Channel

Stage 5 | 2015 : La Spezia – Abetone (152km)

Slovenian love story with the Giro

The first mountain finish in this Giro 2015. After 16 kilometres, the breakaway of the day was clear: Sylvain Chavanel, Silvan Dillier, Axel Domont, Serghei Tvetcov and Jan Polanc. They still had 5 minutes over the bunch before the last ascent of the day leading to Abetone. Would this be enough to hold back the GC contenders?

Chavanel launched the first attack but with 8 kilometres to go, Jan Polanc dealt the death blow to his breakaway companions. Undoubtedly the best climber of these 5, the Slovenian held back the return of the GC contenders, led by Astana, to claim his first professional victory. 

Why is it iconic? Polanc's relationship with the Giro is quite special. After claiming his first pro victory here, the Slovenian won again 2 years later, this time on the Etna slopes, in the same fashion: joining the breakaway and holding back the GC contenders. 2 years later (again!), he would even wear Maglia Rosa for 2 days!

Behind Polanc, this stage was the first battle among the favourites with Contador attacking with 5 kilometres to go and establishing dominance. Only Aru and Porte were able to follow that day. The Spaniard would go on to claim Maglia Rosa and wear it for the rest of this Giro, except for one day. 

Stage 5 was also the first act of Contador versus Astana during this Giro. The Kazakh team battled fiercely against Contador, led by Italian rider Fabio Aru who would eventually go on to win La Vuelta later that year, and his teammate and lieutenant Mikel Landa who had his breakthrough Grand Tour. Landistas will remember!

Youtube: from TopCyclingHD Channel

Stage 6 | 2004 : Spolète - Valmontone (164km)

“I am inevitable”

No, Thanos didn’t actually race the 2004 Giro but Petacchi did. And back in 2004, it would probably have taken a whole Avengers team to prevent the Italian sprinter from winning at the Giro!

During this edition, Ale-Jet went on to win stages 1, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15 and 20… Let me catch my breath… Yup, you read that correctly… 9 stage wins! It is obviously a Giro record.

Almost half of the 2004 Giro stages were in the bag for Petacchi, once in every two days you saw him on the victory podium. That’s a lot of fluffy toys. Only Robbie McEwen was able to contest Petacchi’s supremacy by winning one flat stage (5). And Petacchi didn’t even take part in this sprint. Crumbs. 

So why pick stage 6 among these nine? Because… Because… DO YOU GUYS HAVE ANY IDEA HOW HARD IT IS TO PICK AN ICONIC STAGE 6? 😏 In the end, it’s just a sprint win among others, one among 48 others in Grand Tours for Petacchi, but it’s part of an historical feat that needed to be included in this iconic Giro series. Nothing less, nothing more!

Additionally to his nine stage wins, Petacchi would eventually also claim the Maglia Ciclamino awarded for winning the points classification, with a quite comfortable margin (YOU DON’T SAY!?), but also the most combative classification AND the Azzuri d’Italia classification for most points awarded to the top three finishers in each stage. That's a lot of honours for Petacchi, I hope he came to the Giro in a van (or with a huge backpack)!

Youtube: from CyclingHistory Channel


(Italian for 'brainteaser')

A origami lasagna knots! Which is an anagram of ‘Look it’s anagrams again!’  Here are four mixed-up riders: can you work out who they are and what connects them?

Aha Crazy Spleen

John Mamba Nites

Halt Ninja Moan

Mr Lime Tire

Add your four answers, plus their connection, to your answers from Issue 1, and keep them somewhere safe. Crack Sunday’s Issue 3 puzzle and you could be in with a chance of winning an exclusive writebikerepeat Grand Tour cap.

Vital Statistics

Casting my eye back over the past few years’ results at this point in time – stage 6 at the time of writing – produced some food for thought.

Arnaud Démare has won twice on stage in the past 5 editions of the race, with Mads Pedersen’s win on stage in 2023 proving that 50% of the past 5 stage 6s have been ones for the sprinters.

More interesting perhaps, is casting your eye back down the state of play in the GC, at this stage in the past few years.

This time last year… Andreas Leknussund wore the maglia rosa, with eventual top 2 on GC Primoz Roglič and Geraint Thomas in 5th  and 6th, 1:12 and 1:26 back respectively. In 2022, it was Juanpe Lopez, establishing his newfound reputation as ‘El Patron’ in pink with a 10-day stint, and on stage 6 eventual winner Jai Hindley was a sizeable 2:16 down on the lead of the then Trek-Segafredo rider. In 2021, stage 6 was won by the late Gino Mäder. A poignant and heartbreaking coincidence on this day in which we mark the passing of Wouter Weylandt in 2011. Egan Bernal came second that day and hinted at the form he was in, just 16 seconds back on GC on the lead of Attila Valter, then of Groupama-FDJ. And 2020, a year which we remember for all the wrong reasons, marks the most memorable swing in the GC standings from stage 6 to the end, with Jai Hindley, the long-time leader of the race that year, a massive 3:18 ahead of the winner Tao Geoghegan Hart already, on stage 6.

What does all this prove? That if Tadej Pogačar takes the leader’s jersey all the way from stage 2 to Rome, it will pretty damn remarkable. But also, that it’s early days, and anything can happen - and probably will. So for there to be less than a minute between the top 5 may feel insignificant given who's at the top, but it really is not a whole lot, in the grand (tour) scheme of things.

The things we saw along the way

Stage 7

The intermediate checkpoint for this 38.5km individual time trial is located in Santa Maria Degli Angelo.  The town is dominated by the impressive Basilica of Santa Maria Degli Angeli, which incorporates the original Franciscan monastery of St Francis of Assisi, who died here in 1226.

It is a small town that has had a big influence: Spanish Franciscan monks were inspired to name a settlement on the west coast of the United States of America after it; you may know it as: Los Angeles, California.

Gran Sasso e Monti Della Laga National Park (image: Wikimedia Commons)

Stage 8

Finally, we head into the mountains! The sprint point at 146 km is in Pietracamela, a small town that sits at the foot of the Gran Sasso d’Italia ‘the Great Rock’ of Italy. It is the second-highest peak outside of the Alps.

The whole area is covered by the Gran Sasso e Monti Della Laga National Park, some 2,014 square kilometres. Here can be found a host of wildlife including wolves, Marsican brown bears, roe deer, wildcats, wild boar, and the rare Abruzzo chamois, a breed of goat. If we are really lucky, maybe we will see a golden eagle flying high above the peloton.

Stage 9

The peloton heads towards the coast on stage 9 and will pass by the city of Giugliano which has a long and eventful history.  Settlements in the area can be dated back to at least 194 BC with an ancient city at the side of Lake Patria, known as Liternum. Which was the home of the infamous Roman military commander Scipio Africanus, who was victorious in Carthage and defeated Hannibal at the Battle of Zama, before retiring here to live out his final days.

Giro 'Duos'

What would happen if the GC was decided by two riders per team?

By Sam Mould

After an intense Stage 6 at the Giro d'Italia, the competition is heating up among the teams. Astana Qazaqstan continues to dominate, holding onto their lead with impressive teamwork and determination. However, the Ineos Grenadiers have leapt to 2nd spot and proven their strength.

One of the most notable improvements in the rankings comes from UAE Team Emirates, who have surged from 14th place to an impressive 10th place - not all that surprising given who's leading the race - perhaps what's more surprising is how far down they are, in the standings that determine the power of two.

Giro #107

Jump in and enjoy our homage to the number 107… Let’s begin with those lucky 107th places, from stages 4-6.

Rider 107 - by Rémi Massart 

Stage 4

Italy is the most represented nation on this 107th Giro so it is quite logical than it is the first country to have two winners of the 107th classification. Indeed, today it is Andrea Bagioli who won our contest!

Andrea Bagioli was born on the 23rd of March 1999 in the city of Sondrio, near the Swiss border. Andrea has an older brother who also was a professional cyclist: Nicola. Unfortunately, the latter stopped his career in 2021 after the end of B&B Hotels team. The two brothers never rode together at a professional level, as they followed different paths. Andrea’s first experience of the World Tour happened in 2018, when UAE Team Emirates enrolled him as a trainee after some good results in some Junior and U23 races. Unfortunately, they were not convinced and our 107th of the day had to spend a year at  Continental level, in Team Colpack, with whom he won some great successes including the general classification of Ronde de l’Isard, ahead of Andreas Leknessund, Clément Champoussin and Matteo Jorgenson among others. Andrea’s good results caught the eye of Patrick Lefevere and he signed with Deceuninck-Quick Step in 2020. His first year in the World Tour went well for the young Italian who won two stages in his new colours, at the Tour de l’Ain and Settimana Inter Coppi e Bartali. He also podiumed a stage at his first ever Grand Tour, finishing third on the 10th stage of La Vuelta. Andrea continued his progression as the years passed, showing great abilities on short, steep hills. He collected his first World Tour victory on the Montjuic circuit in Barcelona in 2022 but the biggest result of his career took place last year, with his second place on the roads of Lombardia, only beaten by the Slovenian monster Tadej Pogacar. This winter, Andrea Bagioli left Soudal-Quick Step and joined Lidl-Trek, where he has had a quiet start to the season. He will try to change this dynamic at his first Giro, where he will aim for a stage win when his leaders Jonathan Milan and Juan Pedro Lopez don’t need him.

Stage 5

It seems that we have a team on this 107th Giro who takes our classification very seriously. Indeed, today and for the second time since the start in Venaria Reale, it is a member of Arkéa-B&B Hotels who finished 107th- Donavan Grondin!

Donavan is one of the few professional riders to be born in a French overseas region, more precisely in Saint-Pierre (Reunion Island). He arrived in France in 2015, at the age of 15, to try to become a professional cyclist. During his Junior years, Donavan achieved some big successes, becoming French Champion on the road and World Champion on the track. Indeed, our winner today is one of the best in the world in the velodrome. Donavan won two World titles, in the scratch (2021) and the Madison (2022), and one European title, in the omnium in 2022. At the same time as the track, our Reunionese started a professional career on the road in 2020, with the team that was at the time called Arkéa-Samsic. Since then, he has been an important teammate for his leaders, mainly in French Cup races. Last year, he took part in his first World Tour race at the Critérium du Dauphiné where he took the breakaway in the first two stages but also at Tirreno-Adriatico where he finished… 107th!! This amazing performance convinced his team to trust him for his first ever Flandrian classics campaign but also for his first Grand Tour, this 107th Giro, where he will try to escape from the peloton as much as possible. However, the main objective of Donavan this season remains the Olympics Game, where he will try to bring home a medal.

Stage 6

The 6th stage of this Giro offered us a beautiful finale on the streets of Rapolano Terme but what is really important is the battle for 107th and it is once again an Italian who won it: Lorenzo Milesi.

Lorenzo was born on the 19th of March 2002, in the little town of San Giovanni Bianco, north of Bergamo. Since his Junior years, he showed great time-trialling abilities, winning his National Championship in 2020 and finishing third at the European Championship of the same year. These results allowed him to sign his first professional contract in 2021, with the Continental team Beltrami TSA. He spent a year with this Italian team before being approached by the Development Team of DSM. His great results including a win on the last stage of the Tour de l’Avenir ahead of Alec Segaert and Ewen Costiou convinced the managers of DSM to sign Lorenzo for the season 2023. That is when the young Italian career would change. Indeed, he won the U23 World Time Trial Championship, showing himself in front of the whole cycling world. Only four days later, he finished fifth in the Road Race, only beaten on the sprint by his rivals. After this amazing success, Lorenzo took the start of the Vuelta, where he wore the Red jersey after the win of his team on the opening stage Team Time Trial. This winter, after only one year spent with DSM, Lorenzo Milesi joined Movistar, with whom he is participating at his first Giro. His main objective will be the time-trial stages, including tomorrow where we could see the young Italian among the top 10. 

Rider 107… Nick Schultz!

With just 5 riders remaining on their team after 3 departures this morning, there’s no denying that Schultzie’s team, Israel-Premier Tech, are really suffering this Giro. All the more reason for our Aussie mascot to do the business, and while he’s been quiet so far, today he recorded his first top ten at the race with an impressive 8th place, in amongst the group of favourites and ahead of many of them, and this bodes very well for the remaining stages.

There’s still plenty to come from Nick, I can feel it. Let’s not forget he took a stage win ahead of Pogacar at the Vuelta Catalunya earlier this season. My ultimate aim? For Schultize to win a stage… but also to come, of course, 107th on GC

What happened at km 107?

On stage 4, the charge up the climb led by Jan Tratnik, and a cameo from Loulou - prophetic perhaps, given his more prominent appearance on stage 6? Stage 5 saw… er, some riders going along the road, and stage 6 well, this is just one snapshot of the glory of the Giro d’Italia as the peloton sped through the Tuscan countryside.

Can we discern any greater significance from these moments in time? Hmm, it’s a little too early to say.

Preview 107: STAGE 7 / STAGE 8 / STAGE 9 – IN 107 WORDS

It’s time trial day! One of two, and this one goes: flat flat flat CLIMBY. Too climby for Pippo? Probably not. Stage 8 is the first five-star stage of this year’s race and presents three major obstacles, the final one being the first first category of the race – 14.6km at 7% average makes Prato di Tivo a perfect launchpad for anyone hoping to take on Pogačar in the GC – though the Slovenian himself could well scupper those plans. Stage 9: early breakaway? Late breakaway? Given this Giro has seen two breakaway wins so far, plenty of teams will have confidence, and I believe in them again here.

Animals of the Giro

There’s been a distinct lack of animals so far this Giro, I am sorry to report. Hoping at least for some mountain goats when we reach the Dolomites. Thank goodness for this fan (and his human) to keep us busy while we wait for the more exotic creatures to emerge from the undergrowth. So to speak.

Social Media Antipasti

The best of team social media from the past three days.

DSM with some serious eye candy after today's stage.

INEOS bringing the puns and the imagery from the sterrato.

And a fun interaction between Soudal-QuickStep and Jayco-AlUla following break-mates Loulou and Plappy's post-race show of respect.

And finally. Polti Kometa - they didn't come here to put socks on centipedes.

Join us again for more fun, facts, and irrelevant nonsense in Issue 3 on Sunday!

Il Giro Sette is brought to you by DOLAN Bikes.

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