Close but no cigar yesterday, as Miles and Cycling Mole's pick of Peter Sagan was pipped to the post and his first Giro stage win by UAE's Diego Ulissi, who raised his arms to celebrate his seventh.
Today we're on the road to Et-na. The volcano has come to feel like something of a Giro staple in recent years. Despite the race only having finished here on five previous occasions, all but one of those has been in the last decade.
A climber's day, for sure, but which one?
The Rouleur panel's picks, and Cycling Mole's punt.
Stage 3 - Enna to Etna
Simon Yates - Mitchelton Scott
I have vivid memories of Yates winning the day but not the stage last time the Giro came to Etna, as he handed the result to Esteban Chaves. No gifts this time round and I can't see him claiming pink this time, either. It won't be by much from his GC rivals, but it'll be enough.
Fausto Masnada - Deceuninck-Quick Step
Having a massive climbing stage so early in the Giro is not unprecedented, but still makes it fairly difficult to predict just how hard the GC riders will push it. Last time the race hit Etna, again pretty early in the race, Simon Yates felt great and showed it. But that enthusiastic energy expenditure likely cost him later. I’m thinking that recent memory will serve as a cautionary tale for the GC guys, and a strong break will take advantage of their reticence. Fausto Masnada took an impressive stage victory at last year’s Giro, and recently has been thereabouts at the front of the harder stages at Tirreno-Adriatico. With no GC captain to worry about on his team, he can go all-in for a great stage win.
Simon Yates - Mitchelton-Scott
It feels a little wrong to call a GC day so early into proceedings, but with a finish like that, it would be foolish if one of them didn't take the bull by the horns. That someone, I think, will be Simon Yates. With some ground to make up on his fellow brit, he'll test the legs and try and take back some seconds.
Pello Bilbao - Bahrain-McLaren
Not entirely sure he has the form currently but Bilbao certainly has stage-winning capability, especially at the Giro and especially on Etna. Here’s hoping for an explosive finish from the Basque.
The Cycling Mole says...
So, I just missed out yesterday as Sagan came up short, but what an effort. Today’s stage sees the bunch tackle the big climb to Mount Etna. Simon Yates has fond memories of this one and he’ll sense a change to take some crucial seconds on GC.
The panel have all selected good riders, unfortunately there’s nothing for me to poke fun at. As we don’t have a dominant mountain train, there is a real possibility for a “lesser” rider to sneak away if the GC riders mark each other out. This makes the picks of Masnada and Bilbao quite good, especially as both are great climbers. Simon Yates appears twice, which isn’t a surprise after the way he was climbing in Tirreno. This is the sensible selection.
I don’t always like being sensible! Being so early in the race I expect the GC riders to be fairly equal, and when all the domestiques have been burned, Jakob Fuglsang, will launch the winning move. Being nearly 2 minutes down on GC should buy him a little freedom.