That's how close it was today...
Castrovillari - Alberobello
Giro d'Italia - 12 May 2017
Giro d'Italia – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 20:00 on 12 May 2017. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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Here's the moment Caleb Ewan opened up his Giro d'Italia account...
Andre Greipel took fourth and Jasper Stuyven fifth. Amazingly, Vincenzo Nibali was tenth.
Ewan benefitted from being the first rider round the last bend - so while he wasn't the fastest over the line (that was Gaviria) he just did enough to hold on and take the win for Orica-Scott.
Victory for Caleb Ewan by not even half a wheel - with Gaviria second and Bennett third.
PHOTO FINISH: Ewan, Gaviria and Bennett all cross a complicated finale in a line... who won??
Greipel is on Ewan's wheel, with Bennett just behind, Gaviria fuerther back... It's show time.
Under the banner they go and it's Bora Hansgrohe who are on the front - but all the big sprinters are still there.
It's tight, narrow and very dangerous out there - gaps are forming and it's really strung out.
Koren is reeled in and it's Vasil Kiryienka who leads the pack through the 3km marker for Team Sky.
Koren crests the top of the small climb and no one is chasing him down - but the gap is minimal and he'll be brought back.
They're on the final circuit after the first big left-hander. They're going uphill and Alex Howes of Cannondale has put in an attack. It's exactly two years to the day since the American team took a WorldTour win. Correction, it's Kristjan Koren.
Numerous riders have dropped off the back - those who don't want to be involved in the madness. They include Pierre Rolland of Cannondale-Drapac.
Bora now have six riders, including Bennett, so they clearly mean business. Team Sky have made their way up, to protect Landa and Thomas.
It's a really fierce battle now for positions on the front as the Lotto Soudal train brings up Greipel on the right. Gaviria has five team-mates, too, but Ewan has just the two for now - the same can be said of Bennett and Bora-Hansgrohe.
ANOTHER FLASHPOINT: The riders almost plough into a marshal waving a flag on a tight right-hander. He was trying to stop them hit some road furniture, but instead he almost got run down himself. That was a near one - somehow the peloton splits around him and no one hits the deck. A close shave.
There's a flashpoint as Tom Stamsnijder (Team Sunweb) barges Enrico Barbin (Bardiani-CSF) off the road onto the grass verge. The Italian rejoins the road and then shoulders the Dutchman - and both keep their ground. No fists were raised, mind.
Orica-Scott, Bahrain Merida, Quick-Step Floors, Lotto Soudal and Movistar all have men on the front of the pack as we pass the 15-to-go banner. The relative before the storm.
It's all over for the break: gruppo compatto.
Under the 20-to-go banner go the break - and they have 22 seconds left to play with. I don't think Kozonchuk's facial expression has changed at all throughout the day. The best word for it is perhaps glacial.
Narrow miss for one of yesterday's escapees, Mads Pedersen, who almost comes a cropper on the back of the pack as the pace drops when the road bottlenecks.
With the break now within 40 seconds of the pack, the pace drops accordingly. They'll probably let them hang out there ahead in a bid to deter any counter-attacks before the finish. In fact, the road is so long and straight that the two leaders could look over their shoulders and see the peloton shimmering in the heat behind.
CCC Sprandi Polkowice, the boys in orange, are picking up punctures aplenty out there as the pace stretches out the pack. The leaders have just 1:10 to play with now. We're back to flat roads ahead of the lumpier finale towards Alberobello.
The tempo is definitely rising quite considerably now that the business end of the stage is approaching. The gap is down to 1:25 for Kozontchuk and Fonzi.
Now the gap inevitably drops below the two-minute mark for the two game escapees. Orica-Scott have a rider on the front of the pack, ahead of the Quick-Step Floors train and a Lotto Soudal rider. The crowds are our in their droves - this is the biggest thing to happen to the area since sliced pizza.
Today's final 5km goes up, down, up, down, and then up again to the line - but we're talking a 30m spread, and so nothing too drastic. It is technical, however, with the riders doing a loop of Alberobello with two tight left-handers and three tight right-handers ahead of the finish - which takes place here (see tweet below...)
The two leaders pass under the 50-to-go banner with a precarious lead of 2:15 over the pack. It's worth adding that this is 33-year-old Kozonchuk's seventh Giro d'Italia; he has never finished higher than 17th in a stage; his highest GC place is 59th; he has no pro wins to his name. Meanwhile, this is 25-year-old Fonzi's debut Giro and so far his best stage finish has been 154th. The odds are indeed stacked against them.
And once again it's Fernando Gaviria who does enough to take the 8pts for third place - just ahead of Jasper Stuyven - to extend his lead in the maglia ciclamino points classification.
The flame-bearded Kozonchok - and old domestique of the controversial (and retired) Dennis Menchov - takes the second intermediate sprint, another uncontested affair with Fonzi.
We're heading into trulli country... and the gap is now below three minutes for the two leaders, who have been out pretty much since kilometre zero.
Caleb Ewan is currently riding off the back of the peloton with Orica-Scott team-mate Carlos Verona. The pint-sized Australian sprinter must have been chatting to the team car or answering a call of nature. Ewan is in need of a morale-boasting win after a frustrating start to the race, to be fair. Could today be the day?
There's a modicum of excitement in the peloton when a flag on the road causes the pack to split - until some riders decide that it's fine, and, well, cycle over it without blowing up.
Giuseppe Fonzi (Wilier-Selle Italia) takes maximum points over the summit of the climb ahead of Dmitrii Kozonchok of Gazprom-Rusvelo, who didn't contest it, to be fair. There'll be no significant change in the maglia azzurra mountains classification, which is being led by stage 4 winner Jan Polanc of UAE Team Emirates with 43 points - 20pts clear of second placed Daniel Teklehaimanot of Dimension Data.
The road has been heading gradually uphill since the intermediate break but the two leaders are now onto the Cat.4 Bosco delle Pianelle climb. Still no huge reaction from the pack, but they have time on their side.
There's a bit of action in the pack because there are still a lot of intermediate sprint points to pick up - and after a kick from Kristian Sbaragli, it's Gaviria who surges clear to take the 8pts for third place and extend his lead in the maglia ciclamino standings. Teklehaimanot, Greipel and Stuyven then come over - I think in that order - to take the remaining points. Next up, that Cat.4 climb.
Finally, the road heads up - and there's even a bend - as the two leaders rise up to the intermediate sprint. But true to today's form, the sprint is uncontested as Kozontchuk rides over ahead of Fonzi, who doesn't even try to deny his co-escapee. The pack are trailing by 3:55.
With the intermediate sprint approaching it's a good time to have a look at the maglia ciclamino points classification standings. Yesterday, Jasper Stuyven pocketed 40pts at the intermediate sprints and 35pts at the finish for coming second, which put the Belgian 3pts shy of Fernando Gaviria, who leads with 140pts after his two stage wins. Andre Greipel is third with 105pts.
The gap is coming down now: 3:30 as the escapees turn off the dual carriageway and head inland on a narrower road that will take them up into the Puglian hills where, hopefully, we'll see some action.
As we approach the 100km-to-go mark it's the Quick-Step Floors team of the pink and cyclamen jerseys Jungels and Gaviria who set the tempo, with a hand from solitary riders from Lotto Soudal and Orica-Scott. The two-man break have 3:50 over the pack. They're on a long, straight, flat section of dual carriageway. It's neither inspiring, nor interesting, nor even remotely demanding for the riders. But they need to get through this section to get to the rolling roads that will - hopefully - animate the final third of this stage ahead of a fast finish in Alberobello. So stick with us - it will eventually be worth it...
Here's a picture of the distinctive trulli houses in Alberobello courtesy of Alessandro Petacchi - that's quite a stunning backdrop to the expected sprint finish.
The gap has now come down to four minutes again after that sluggish section through the feed zone. Gazprom-Rusvelo have done well to get riders in every break of the race so far except yesterday - the only day that the break really went the distance (bar Jan Polanc's solo efforts on Mount Etna).
The break now has its largest lead as it creeps up to a post-prandial 4:35. It's definitely siesta time in the pack, which is all strung out, with riders pedalling along in team formations and taking it easy.
The riders have passed through the feed zone - leading so some shocking scenes on the race as Maximiliano Richeze throws some litter at his Quick-Step Floors team-mate Fernando Gaviria. Don't believe us - well, we caught it on camera...
There's some discussions going on between our two escapees - Guiseppe Fonzi and Dmitrii Kozonchok. It's probably something along the lines of, 'When shall we call it a day?', 'Perhaps after the intermediate sprints?', 'Yeah, good idea - let's take one each', 'And in between, we can race for the KOM points?', 'It's a deal', 'Excellent - then we'll sit up and let the sprinters do their thing.'
Waves to the crowd from Domenico Pozzovivo as the peloton passes through Policoro, the 34-year-old's home town. The Italian Ag2R-La Mondiale rider is currently in fifth place on GC just 10 seconds down on leader Bob Jungels. The gap is 3:52 for the two leaders. Piano, piano - all is calm.
Who's going to win today? We're running an online poll for the big three favourites - Gaviria, Greipel and Ewan. So far it's neck and neck for the two riders in that list who have already won something on this year's race, with Ewan trailing a bit behind. But don't forget there are other riders to consider - the likes of Sam Bennett, Jakub Mareczko, Giacomo Nizzolo, Roberto Ferrari, Kristian Sbaragli, Sacha Modolo, Phil Bauhaus... to name but a large handful.
It's fair to say that today's stage won't only be a long one for the riders - the commentators and fans are going to have their work cut out staying awake. Don't get me wrong - the finale should be spectacular, and there may well be some flashpoints en route - but there's still a fair whack to go and there aren't many significant landmarks. Two intermediate sprints and one categorised climb will add some interest, plus there could be some coastal winds at some point. But for now, it's just two men riding 3:50 ahead of a large pack of riders.
The gap has been kept below four minutes by the Quick-Step Floors team of double stage winner Fernando Gaviria, the maglia ciclamino, and the maglia rosa Bob Jungels. The Belgian team have had a storming Giro so far - and the Colombian will be the favourite to make it a hat-trick in Alberobello.
Here's what Patrick Dempsey had to say about the Giro d'Italia - and either he's a huge cycling fan, or he learnt his lines perfectly.
It's not often you get a B-List Hollywood celebrity putting in an appearance at a Grand Tour, but it's happened today with Patrick Dempsey - the Grey's Anatomy and Bridget Jones's Baby actor - not only turning up in a vintage pink jersey, but joining the peloton to ride the neutralized zone. Sure, it's not quite the same celebrity calibre of Ben Stiller or Robin Williams at the Tour de France, but it's still an indication of the race's popularity. Dempsey was a guest with BMC because of his links with watch company and co-sponsor Tag Heuer.
Ponzi has been swallowed up by the pack after his cameo out in front with the leaders - he won't have any huge regrets because this break is surely doomed. The gap is 3:40 and it's all about the two wildcard team riders getting some TV time more than anything else.
We pick up the stage LIVE after almost 50km of riding and Simone Ponzi has been dropped by the break after suffering a mechanical issue. It remains to be seen if he can re-join the leaders, who now hold a four-minute gap over the pack. Yesterday the lead went out to nine minutes and Cannondale-Drapac left it way too late to start the chase. The likes of Lotto Soudal, Quick-Step Floors and Orica-Scott will not make the same mistake twice, as they target stage wins for their men Andre Greipel, Fernando Gaviria and Caleb Ewan.
And here are the three riders who lead today's stage... none of whom are a threat to the overall standings.
After yesterday's failed chase, you can't see the peloton - and in particular, the teams of the sprinters - giving the break too much leeway today. The gap quickly moved up to three minutes, though.
Here's a video profile of today's stage with more details about the route.
An early move went shortly after the start. The three leaders are Italians Giuseppe Fonzi (Wilier-Selle Italia), Simone Ponzi (CCC Spandi Polkowice) and Russian Dmitrii Kozonchok (Gasprom-Rusvelo).
191 rider rolled out of the start this morning under sunny blue skies. The temperature is going to be in the high 20s today so it's going to be a hot one.
Once the riders have tackled the potential crosswinds and some rolling roads in the final third of the stage, they will zip into the UNESCO World Heritage site of Alberobello - a beautiful town renowned for its unique beehive-shaped trullo buildings.
So, today the riders leave Calabria and enter Puglia as the 100th edition of the Giro continues to showcase the marvels of Italy...
Luxembourg national champion Bob Jungels, the maglia rosa from Quick-Step Floors, finished comfortably in the top ten to retain his six-second lead over Welshman Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) in the general classification. Britain’s Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) finished sixth to retain his third place behind Jungels and Thomas on GC, while all the other main favourites – including defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Medira) and 2014 winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar) – came home on cue to stay within 10 seconds of Jungels and the race summit.
Yesterday, Swizerland's Silvan Dillier outsprinted fellow escapee Jasper Stuyven of Belgium to claim a maiden Giro d’Italia stage win after an intriguing day of racing in south-west Italy. A three-way uphill tussle at the conclusion of the 217km sixth stage from Reggio Calabria saw BMC’s Dillier, 26, defy a stinging double-digit gradient to hold off Trek-Segafredo’s Stuyven and take the biggest win of his career. Austria’s Lukas Postlberger – the winner of last week’s opening stage for Bora-Hansgrohe – crossed the line in Terme Luigiane for third place, 12 seconds in arrears.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of stage seven of the Giro d'Italia - a largely flat 224km ride through Puglia in the heel of Italy from Castrovillari to Alberobello. It should result in a bunch sprint but the big GC contenders will be aware of the threat of crosswinds coming off the coast...