Where's that GPS?
Re-cap of Stage Seven:
As was predicted by many, a bunch sprint decided Stage Seven. The powerful Andre Griepel (Lotto - Soudal) edged out the cream of sprinting to eck out yet another win and remove the red jersey from Marcel Kittel's back. Kittel, who had an unfortunate flat earlier was not in contention. Sadly, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) lost one of his road generals in an accident which took out Javier Moreno (Movistar) who, initial reports indicate, suffered a broken collarbone and is thus done for this race - this could be a telling loss for Valverde down the road in this Giro.
And yes, Tom Dumoulin holds on to the Pink for yet another day.
General Classification standings after Stage Seven (Top Ten):
1. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin)
2. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) 0:00:26
3. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) 0:00:28
4. Bob Jungels (Etixx - Quick-Step) 0:00:35
5. Steven Kruijswijk (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) 0:00:38
6. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 0:00:41
7. Diego Ulissi (Lampre - Merida)
8. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 0:00:47
9. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Dimension Data) 0:00:49
10. Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) 0:00:51
Jersey Distribution after Stage Seven:
GC Leader (Pink) - Tom Dumoulin
Points Leader (Red) - Andre Greipel
Mountains Leader (Blue) - Tim Wellens
Best Young Rider (White) - Bob Jungels
Stage Eight: Foligno - Arezzo, 186 km
The most prominent features of this stage with be two categorized climbs - a Cat 3 and a Cat 2. The summit of the Cat 2 - the Alpi di Poti - comes 20 km from the finish. Both the climb and the decent of the Alpi di Poti look to prove decisive both for the stage win and the GC standings. The climbers and the all-rounders should make this climb in good order, but the sprinters are likely out of luck and will fall out during this climb. The decent off this summit may play a key roll - a fearless and expert descender might ride away with the stage here. The final km to the finish features a uphill ramp (11% ascent at its steepest).
I see the GC boys making the climb together in a selective group but I suspect Astana, with both Jakob Fuglsang and Vincenzo Nibali in the top ten, might try to tag-team the others by trying attacks on the uphill which the other GC contenders would be forced to mark as both men are too far up the totem pole to be allowed to ride away.
During the downhill one or two GC contenders might try to gain some seconds on their rivals. I suspect Nibali will come out of Valverde's shadow here and try to close the gap, but that short uphill kick at the end seems to favor a rider of Valverde's ilk, so even if Nibali gaps with few seconds lead going downhill, it is likely Valverde makes them up in that final uphill km.
I have no idea who will take the stage, but I suspect Valverde will maintain an edge over Nibali when it's all said and done.
Stage Eight Map:
Stage Eight Profile: