Bouhanni Takes Second Stage Win of Giro
Stage 7 of the 2014 Giro d'Italia was the calm between two storms. After the crash-marred finish of Stage 6, the peloton needed a respite before the first high mountain stages begin. Today, it got one. Stage 7, a rolling, 211-km run from Frosinone to Foligno, was uneventful by the standards of bicycle races. There were no mass crashes. A break jumped clear and was reeled in by the peloton, which did battle in a sprint finish. Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) took the stage win, his second of this Giro, in 5:16:05. Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) finished second, and Luka Mezgec (Giant-Shimano) took third. Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) remains the maglia rosa.
During the early part of the stage, rain fell intermittently, but it did not prevent a break from forming or the bunch from chasing it. Winner Anacona (Lampre-Merida), Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF), Robinson Chalapud (Colombia), Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp), and Björn Thurau (Europcar) got clear and ran up a lead of nearly nine minutes before Orica-GreenEdge began to chase. Eventually, Trek, Giant-Shimano, Cannondale, and Lotto-Belisol joined the Australian squad, and the break’s advantage disappeared.
With 10 km left, the bunch led the break by one minute. Haas attacked, and his companions brought him back. With six km to go, Thurau had a dig, and the rest of the break reeled him in. With 2.5 km remaining, the peloton caught the fugitives.
Orica-GreenEdge accelerated, and Giant-Shimano took the field into the last km. FDJ.fr joined the Dutch team at the front, and with 150 km left, Mezgec jumped into the lead. Bouhanni had his wheel, however, and jumped the Slovenian on the right while Nizzolo made his move on the left. Bouhanni should have thanked Mezgec for the leadout.
In the overall, Matthews leads Cadel Evans (BMC) by 0:21 and Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) by 1:18. Tomorrow, the real Giro begins. The riders will tackle their first high mountain stage, and the GC contenders will come to the fore. Stage 8, a 179-km ride from Foligno to Monte Copiolo, will feature two Category 1 climbs, including the ascent to the finish. Matthews will lose his maglia rosa. To whom will he lose it? Evans? Uran? Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!