Giro d'Italia 2024 stage six preview - tackling Tuscany's white roads

Three gravel sections will add another layer of complexity for the riders

Date: Thursday May 9, 2024
Distance: 180km
Start location: Viareggio
Finish location: Rapolano Terme
Start time: 12:45 CET
Finish time (approx): 17:13 CET

The Chianti region of Tuscany has long been known for its wine, specifically the red Sangiovese grape variety that it is associated with. But in cycling terms, since 2007 those same hills where the vineyards are located have become recognisable as the parcours of Strade Bianche, the one-day Classic that has rapidly captured the imagination of fans and riders to become one of the most popular and prestigious races on the calendar. Its appeal lies in its retro characteristics, with the titular gravel ‘white roads’ that much of the race takes place on harking back to eras of old, where racing took place on rougher, untarmacked roads 

The organisers of the Giro d’Italia were quick to pick up on the trend, including the same gravel roads for a stage in the 2010 edition that would become one of the most memorable Grand Tour stages of the last few decades. Heavy rainfall turned the gravel into mud, and there was absolute carnage on the road. Cadel Evans’ rainbow jersey had turned to brown by the time he crossed the line to take victory, while there was huge drama in the GC race as overall lead Vincenzo Nibali crashed in the slippery conditions and handed the pink jersey over to Alexandre Vinokourov. This stage wasn’t ultimately decisive in the outcome of the overall classification, as both Vino and Evans were defeated by the superior climbing of Ivan Basso in the mountains, but the same gravel roads set the tone for the GC race when they were used again in 2021, a Egan Bernal attacked on them to take firm control of the pink jersey, while rival Remco Evenepoel suffered and was dumped out of contention.

Anticipation is therefore high for the Giro’s return to Tuscany’s dirt roads for stage six. The parcours isn’t quite as tough as it was on those previous occasions, with the total kilometres raced on gravel roads down from 35km in 2021 to 11.6km, but those roads are hard enough, and close enough to the finish to still draw the GC contenders into duelling. There will be a ferocious battle for position ahead of the first gravel sector of Vidritta, 50km from the finish, posing the risk of crashes even before they enter the surface. That 4.4km sector is immediately followed by the similarly long Bagnaia, with the added difficulty that the gradient tilts steeply uphill. Rolling roads then take the riders into the unknown final sector of Pievina that does not feature at Strade Bianche, and even after that there is a brief shock in an uncategorised wall of 20% to get over prior to a 4km false flat to the finish. For GC contenders confident on these surfaces, this is a possibility to get an edge over their riders long before we arrive into the mountains.

Stage profile sourced via the Giro d'Italia website


The route of stage six is perfectly suited to a strong breakaway, however race leader Tadej Pogačar, given his history in Strade Bianche, will also excel on the gravel roads. The pink jersey wearer may use this stage as an opportunity to gain time on his GC rivals who are less confident when the terrain gets rough, but this doesn't necessarily mean that the breakaway will fail. Should they get a big enough gap early on, there's a chance we'll see two races in one stage: the first for the stage win and the second behind the GC contenders behind.

Julian Alaphilippe of Soudal–Quick-Step has looked strong in this Giro so far and he is a former winner of Strade Bianche, proving his technique on the gravel roads. The Frenchman will be looking at the punchy climbs of stage six as a potential opportunity for some of his trademark attacks. Maximilian Schachmann of Bora-Hansgrohe has also shown promise in hilly stages of the 2024 Giro and his second place finish on the opening stage will have given him confidence that he has the form to be in contention for victory at some point during this race. A second stage victory for Jhonatan Narváez is also on the cards: the Ineos Grenadiers rider can make it over the steep gradients while still packing a punch at the finish.

Alessandro de Marchi of Jayco-Alula is an experienced breakaway artist and we can expect to see him in the crucial moves on stage six – if the Italian has good legs, he will be in the fight at the finish. Visma-Lease a Bike duo of Christophe Laporte and Attila Valter also have options for the gravel roads, and they will be hoping for some good luck after a difficult race so far. Cyclo-cross specialist Quinten Hermans of Alpecin-Deceuninck could be in the mix today, as could Simon Clarke, who won a Paris-Roubaix-style stage of the Tour de France in 2022. Andrea Piccolo is another rider to keep an eye on for EF Education-EasyPost.


We are backing Julian Alaphilippe for victory in stage six – the Frenchman has almost looked back to his best in this year's Giro and is perfectly suited to this terrain.

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