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Giro d'Italia 2018: Stage 6 sees first summit finish on Etna

Joe Robinson
10 May 2018

For second consecutive year, Etna chosen as first summit finish of the Giro d'Italia

Stage 6 of the 2018 Giro d'Italia will be the first summit finish of the race as the peloton climbs the Sicilian volcano of Etna on the 164km stage from Caltanissetta. This will give us our first glimpse of which riders will be contesting the fight for pink across the entire race.

After three days of racing in Israel and two rolling days on the island of Sicily, the race will face its first major test although it is unlikely to have a defining impact on the overall race result come Rome two weeks later.

The day will start in the small town of Caltanissetta in central Sicily before rolling east gradually uphill for the first 60km until they reach Piazza Armerina. The constant rise en route will provide a perfect platform for a breakaway to form early in the stage. 

From the 70km marker until 130km, the road drops providing rest bite for the bunch before the day's climb. It is then with 40km left that the true test of the day will begin.

The day's climb will be preceded with a small rise from Ponte Barca to Belpasso with the Etna climb start officially in Ragalna.

This year's ascent of the volcano will be different to that of 2017 with fewer kilometres climbed but with a steeper gradient.

The climb tackled from Ragalna will distance 15km in total, 2km shorter than last year. However, two particularly steep pitches of 15% and 14% during the climb make it more of a concerntrated test.

The final kilometre of the climb then shallows off to 4.7% which could help regroup any stragglers that have been dropped on the steeper, earlier slopes.

Mountain stages so early in the race rarely have a defining outcome on the race, with General Classification riders more likely to be watching each other than attacking themselves.

Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) will enter the day in the pink jersey with a one second lead on Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and 17 second lead on Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).

Whether the Australian will be able to hold onto pink is unknown. He is yet to prove himself on long mountain summits and this ascent of Etna is steeper than previous years.

It also does not help that Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) and Chris Froome (Team Sky) have already lost time on GC. The former especially could use this climb to claw back some seconds before the race heads to mainland Italy. If that's the case, expect Dennis to struggle with the pace.

If the main men decide to keep their powder dry, the climb could be conquered by lesser known riders attempting to make a name for themselves.

Among those could be Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott) if allowed off the leash. 

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