Stage 6: Castrovillari to Matera
Date: October 8, 2020
Stage start: 11:40am CEST
Stage type: Rolling
This stage and the following one into Brindisi comprised just a single day of racing on the original route, prior to the loss of Budapest as the location for the Grande Partenza. Since divided to fill part of the gap left by the removal of the Hungarian stages, this is the tougher of the pair, as it initially traces its way through rugged countryside in the Pollino National Geopark rather than sticking to the flat coastal roads that were initially planned.
This “transition” stage looks to be finely balanced between the breakaway specialists and the sprinters. The former will relish the day’s opening third, which is quite lumpy and should enable them to establish a decent advantage. Yet, once past the first intermediate sprint at San Severino Lucano, the trend is mainly downhill to reach the flatlands in the province of Matera, in the “arch” of Italy’s foot.
Beyond the second sprint at Craco Peschiera, the riders will reach the day’s only categorised climb, a short and not-overly testing third-cat up to Millotta that the sprinters should be able to cope with relatively comfortably. From that high point, 26km remain to the finish, more than half of it downhill or flat, giving the sprinters plenty of time to recoup any lost ground.
Approaching Matera from the south, the route starts to rise, half-circling the finish town to the west and entering it from the north. Just inside the 3km banner, the road pitches up for a kilometre, the gradient briefly touching 10 per cent before a gentle drop to the kilometre kite and a slight rise all the way to the finish, which shouldn’t trouble the likes of Arnaud Démare and Fernando Gaviria if the gruppo has come back together.
The European Capital of Culture in 2019 and renowned for its complex of cave dwellings that led to it being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Matera has tended to favour sprinters, Mario Cipollini winning here twice. German powerhouse John Degenkolb was the last winner here in 2013.
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