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2017 Giro d'Italia, Stage 4: Cefalú - Etna 181 km

Preview from Eshnar:
Eshnar said:
STAGE 4: Cefalù – Etna (Rif. Sapienza) 181 km

START TIME: 12.00 CEST

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Technical Overview:
The race moves to the other major Italian island after a rest day, and goes for the hardest early MTF stage of recent times. From Cefalù, on the north coast, the peloton will stroll by the sea for 54 kms, before turning right and climbing a pretty good warm-up climb. Portella Femmina Morta (GPM2, 32.8km at 4.5%) is just a (very) long, regular drag that will bring the riders in the inner part of the island. From there, a fast descent, with a few tricky sections, will lead to a small uncategorized climb with the intermediate sprint of Bronte. After that, the riders will head towards the highest (3300m+ a.s.l.) volcano in Europe, one of the most active in the world. Mount Etna (GPM1, 17.9km at 6.6%) has been climbed three times in the Giro (1967, 1989 and 2011), all of them as MTF to Rifugio Sapienza (~1900m). The road they will climb this time is different than last time though, featuring shorter but steeper and irregular slopes. It is also preceded by a small climb of 6.8km at 5.5% to get to Nicolosi, where the final climb officially starts.

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The Climbs:
Portella di Femmina Morta GPM2
Extremely long and regular climb. Great for warming up.
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Etna GPM1
Quite an irregular climb, that averages around 7% but hides 9-10% km alternated with short false flats here and there. Not to be underestimated.
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What to expect:
This is an extremely serious MTF for just a stage 4. I expect a solo winner and decent gaps.
If the stage can be raced, that is. The volcano might decide to mess with it. Fingers crossed.

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It's time for the first big highlight of the gt season. I know the stage is only in two day, but there is a restday tomorrow so there isn't really anything to discuss until then.
Personally I have absolutely no idea what to expect. I neither have an assumption who of the favorites will be the strongest nor if anything will happen anyway. After all this is the first mtf of the giro so it wouldn't be the first time that absolutely nothing happens before the last 1 or 2 kilometers. Then again there probably hasn't been such a hard mtf so early in the race for over a decade in the giro. Anyway, I hope Nibali will win so he can ride through his home town in pink. I don't really believe in that though.
 
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Gazprom, CCC and Cannondale should send a few of their strong climbers in the breakaway, they all have multiple options and should really try to get at least one of their strong climbers in the breakaway.
Pozzovivo wants to wear the maglia rosa in Southern Italy, he'll try something on the final climb.
 
It's gonna be the first real test for GC contenders, and we have no clue how to predict who's gonna finish where imo. Except Dennis, Kruisj, Zakarin n maybe Kangert, they are all still well placed after those 3 first days.
As said previously, there might be no attack at all but we will surely know who's flying and who's already struggling within the first week. Hopefully Steven or Zaka would go ballistic to test themselves and try to gain some time back. Expected performances ?
I trully think its unpredictable. We might have the answer regarding Sky leadership though.
 
Landa or Zakarin I think. Really hoping for Landa to kickstart his Giro by winning on Etna.

So many contenders, so many options... chances are at least one will loose a bunch of time, no? I don't know how good Quintana is just yet, probably too early for him to drop the hammer.
 
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Re: Re:

RedheadDane said:
Anderis said:
Etna to erupt. Stage with no winner.

Aren't Etna's eruptions usually pretty... 'calm'? Not the big "blow apart" kind. In fact, wasn't it erupting when they went up in back in 2011?
Yes, Etna is an active vulcane, but the erruprions are pretty regular and rather tame.
A Vesuvius erruption on the other hand, I don't even want to think about that.
 
Of the GC contenders, I think Thomas is the most likely to try something. He has been somewhat over anxious in the first three stages already and might want to secure leadership within Sky.

I think Jungels will be in pink by the end of the stage.
 
Re:

AlexNYC said:
Of the GC contenders, I think Thomas is the most likely to try something. He has been somewhat over anxious in the first three stages already and might want to secure leadership within Sky.

I think Jungels will be in pink by the end of the stage.

I don't remember one instance with Thomas attacking uphill on real mountains.
 
Re: Re:

Rollthedice said:
AlexNYC said:
Of the GC contenders, I think Thomas is the most likely to try something. He has been somewhat over anxious in the first three stages already and might want to secure leadership within Sky.

I think Jungels will be in pink by the end of the stage.

I don't remember one instance with Thomas attacking uphill on real mountains.

Me neither, but if the other GC riders don't force the pace, he might just be strong enough to try.
 
It's a very difficult stage so early in the Giro. I remember 2 climbs to Etna. In 1989, the stage was even earlier, but easier. It was won by da Silva (more of a hilly classics/hardman rider than a climber), with about 20 riders being separated by a handful of seconds. The 2011 edition was later and with Contador in attack mode, the gaps were more serious. Tuesday's stage is likely to be somewhere in between. I don't think there will be serious gaps, but one or two minor candidates might be found wanting.

Like Mayo, I expect CCC and Cannondale to be extremely keen to get into the early break (Hirt, Rolland/Carthy). The gaps in GC are not very large, so I don't think they'll bge given a long leash. On the other hand, no-one will really want to take command at this stage of the race.

Like Alex, I think the gaps at the end won't be large and Jungels will be in pink. However, I'm with Valv in thinking that out of the Sky guys Landa is more likely to attack. G was agressive today in conditions that favoured him compared to most of the other GC contenders (and why not before a transfer day?). On Tuesday, the roles are reversed. Stoneface will keep his powder dry and Krokro please don't expect Zakarin or Crushweak to go ballistic because they're 20 seconds down.

Zakarin to win from a group of 6-10 riders.

Edit: I forgot about Dan Martin. Apparently, he's riding this Giro and this is ideal for him ;)