Friday the 13th dished out its fair share of bad luck on a superstitious peloton, but where some riders struggled, others profited.

Meanwhile, Orica-GreenEDGE frightened young riders like Caleb Ewan with scenes from scary movies that were made before he was born. It worked, with the 21-year-old sprinter achieving his best result of the event.

related reading and viewing
Extended highlights: Giro d'Italia Stage 7
Greipel delivers in fast Stage 7 Giro d'Italia finish
Andre Greipel was just too strong for his rivals delivering Lotto Soudal's third straight win at this year's Giro. Orica-GreenEDGE's Caleb Ewan placed fourth in a well executed finish on the 211km stage from Sulmona to Foligno.

Saturday 14 May 2016

Caleb Ewan sprinted to fourth place on Stage 7 of the Giro d’Italia last night, after another master class from Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal)

Lotto Soudal had been attempting to monopolise positions on the front of the bunch before Luka Mezgec (Orica-GreenEDGE) muscled his way through with Ewan tucked tightly onto his wheel. The Slovenian lead out man used all of his speed and experience to deliver Ewan into the final hundred metres but it was Greipel who took the stage win with Ewan placing fourth and just missing the podium.

The multiple Tour Down Under stage winner had battled hard throughout the long and arduous stage and was unfortunate to lose out to Greipel in the last twenty metres of the sprint.

related reading
Ewan wants a chance to sprint
Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE) is yet to figure in a sprint stage at the Giro d’Italia but remains determined to make an impression in his debut at the race.

Sport director Matt White was pleased with the continued development of 21-year-old Ewan over the course of the race.

“It was superb work from Luka (Mezgec) in the final,” said White. “He used all of his experience and speed to deliver Caleb (Ewan) into a good position on the home straight.

“Unfortunately Caleb just ran out of steam over the last few metres but every day is more valuable experience for him and these situations will continue to help his development.

“Tomorrow is more than likely going to be a day for the breakaway, there’s a tough climb at the end of the stage which will probably be too much for the sprinters.”

Keeping their Backstage Pass videos funny and fresh, Orica-GreenEDGE spend about three minutes of this one talking about scary movies, and a minute on the race. Stage 7 happened on Friday the 13th afterall.

 Mario Cipollini was also adding some extra motivation to aspiring sprinters during Stage 7.

Cipo, who notched up 191 victories from 1989-2005 (give or take), would be a mighty terrifying man to race against. Even today. 

There’s no such thing as good timing for a puncture, but getting one with five kilometres to go can feel pretty unlucky. This was the case for Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) who was forced to wave goodbye to another stage win as a result.

After being distanced on the final climb of the day, Kittel didn't give up and began a frantic chase together with four team-mates, in order to return to the peloton. A 30-second gap was scratched off on the descent and the former wearer of the maglia rosa returned to the bunch for the expected bunch finish in Foligno.

Unfortunately, the winner of Stages 2 and 3 punctured with around five kilometres to go and had to change his bike, which meant it was game over for him at that point, as the bunch was riding at more than 55km/hr.

"The stage wasn't easy. We had a very difficult start, more than an hour at full gas and with some bad weather in between,” said Kittel.

“Our plan was to wait and see what will happen on the last climb. We stayed together, worked as a team and really believed in the win, and all these things make up for the positive side of today.

"We chased hard and just as the descent was coming to an end, we were already back in the peloton. The final was super fast and I was excellent positioned, with Fabio and Matteo on my side.

Unfortunately, the puncture came and the race was over. It's a pity that we were so unlucky, but I still want to congratulate Andre for taking the victory. As I said earlier this week: this is cycling, with great and sometimes not so great moments. After all, today was Friday 13th,” he said, paraphrasing our (highly unoriginal) last line from the above report on Caleb Ewan. 

There was a small shake up to the GC overnight as a split in the bunch saw several favourites lose nine precious seconds to their rivals, with bigger tests to come in the high mountain stages next week.

Stage 8 will also prove challenging for the overall contenders with a white-graveled (strade bianche) climb situated at the end of the stage before a fast decent to the finish.

Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) dropped from eighth to eleventh position overall.

“The finish was really fast and chaotic.

“There were many tight turns and the bunch split apart in numerous places. Esteban (Chaves) ended up losing a few seconds at the finish but we are still in a more than decent position going into the second week of the race.” - Matt White for Orica-GreenEDGE

Andrey Amador (Movistar), Nicholas Roche (Sky) and Ryder Hesjedal (Trek-Segafredo) also slid down the leader board. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was the big winner jumping up one position from ninth to eighth, sitting 47 seconds behind the pink jersey of Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin).

"I felt fine today, but it was not the easiest stage. I got through it. I have seen the details of tomorrow's final climb and I don't mind the gravel, so we shall see. It's going to be tough; more or less like a mountain-top finish with the straight decent to the line. I expect another hard stage." – Ryder Hesjedal


A big what? 

Javi Moreno (Movistar) has been forced to abandon the Giro after a crash around 80 kilometres from the Stage 7 finish.

“Andalusian climber from Movistar Team sustains displaced left collarbone fracture after incident around 130km into stage seven. Spaniard leaves race after big protagonism with teamwork into Thursday's mountain finish,” came the news via a press release from the Movistar Team.

In the age of mass communication and tight time pressures, we suspect that the big protagonism is an online translator fail, with ‘leadership’ being the preferred word to put in its place.

Moreno left the stage in an ambulance with a neck brace. A displaced left collarbone fracture has been confirmed and more serious injuries have been ruled out.

His seven remaining team-mates will give their best to keep Alejandro Valverde at the front of the pack.

Almost every team has something to say about Stage 8’s strade bianche (white gravel) climb tonight, and their hopes that bad weather won’t make a tough day tougher.

The Global Cycling Network have put together this video of the five toughest Giro stages of all time. Shout out to Cadel Evans winning on the muddy roads in filthy weather in 2010.

This 220km stage from Carrara to Montalcino had two 10km-long sections of strade bianche, most of which appeared to end up on the Australian’s rainbow jersey.