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Giro Stage 5 Preview

The first uphill finish of the Giro. The climb to Abetone isn’t normally that selective but the way Tinkoff-Saxo and Astana are riding at the moment we could well see a GC showdown.

Stage 4 Wrap: an action-packed stage where the scenario kept changing. Many races can be a slow burn to watch before an exciting finale but this was a Hollywood action thriller with well paced action throughout. It started with a plot twist of a giant break where it was hard to know who had gone clear. By the time the list of 24 riders arrived the group had split. Crucially Roman Kreuziger was among the fugitives which put pressure on the other teams although it didn’t stop Tinkoff-Saxo from leading the charge behind, presumably not to chase down their Czech lieutenant but to try and put the hurt on everyone else. It came at a price because when Fabio Aru tried a sharp attack on the final climb as Alberto Contador was isolated.

After Stage 2 saw an idiot on a beach cruiser “join” the bunch and provoke a crash it seemed a local junior decided to infiltrate the race with Formolo’s cherubic looks. With the peloton approaching the final climb to Biassa about to start Davide Formolo attacked the surviving riders in the breakaway, catching them by surprise as they prepared themselves for the ascent. He quickly built up a lead and extended it on the steep part of the climb and rode solo to the finish. Aru is still the future of Italian stage racing but Formolo seems a future rival too. It was a great day’s racing, a thrill to watch, yet for all the excitement it was not decisive and race-defining.

Rigoberto Uran

There were several losers, the biggest was Rigoberto Uran. He’s already lost team mates Pieter Serry and Gianni Meersman and now he’s lost 42 seconds after being distanced on the late climb yesterday and he’s got a cold with a blocked nose. Game over? No but he’s lost a life already. Ilnur Zakarin lost lots of time too; no specific news but team mate Vorobyev quit the race with stomach troubles. Movistar’s Beñat Intxausti and Ion Izaguirre have also lost plenty of time too.

The Route: 152km means another short stage. The Foce Carpinelli is 10km at 5%, a fast climb where it pays to sit on the right wheel to save energy to cross into the isolated Garfagnana area. The road starts climbing again through Bagni di Lucca tracking the Lima valley upwards on a large road, ideal for teams to impose their tempo.

The Finish: full details on this in the Roads to Ride piece but it’s a “power climb” rather than something for the mountain goats but it’s still got 8km at 7% to shred the field. Also beware the profile above as for once RCS seem to underestimate it, the “max 10%” segment appears once but there are actually several ramps of 10% including a final one just 2km from the finish. It levels out to the line at the top off the pass.

The Contenders: normally the final climb isn’t that selective, it’s hard but could allow some punchy riders to hang with the climbers and then bag the sprint. But there’s been nothing normal about the start of the race so far with Tinkoff-Saxo and Astana keen to rip up the race. If this continues then the finish could well be reserved for the GC contenders as they eject the likes of Philippe Gilbert or Diego Ulissi.

Abetone has been the springboard to Giro wins by Coppi and Merckx so the trio of Alberto Contador – Fabio Aru – Richie Porte might want to take the win. Aru seems to have the strongest sprint but this is no velodrome and it’d depend on who has the most energy left. Can Rigoberto Uran get back on terms with the three?

This is also the training grounds for many Italian riders so expect them to crowd the breakaway. One local, at least by region is Diego Ulissi. He’s thrived on uphill finishes before but has he got last year’s form? Another local is Giovanni Visconti who uses this climb for training but he could be rinsed from yesterday’s efforts. An outside bet is Damiano Cunego who has been waiting for this stage but it’s questionable if he’s in the mix yet alone winning.

It’s worth watching two Colombians, one in Esteban Chaves who is looking very good and well-placed to continue Orica-Greenedge’s razzia. The other is Carlos Betancur as the climb would be perfect for him if he’s in top shape and we’ll quickly know if he can do anything.

Finally what of Katusha? Zakurin’s already abandoned GC hopes but could have sat up to save himself for stages while Yuri Trofimov was climbing well in Romandie and Pavel Kotchetkov dropped everyone from the breakaway two days ago.

Fabio Aru, Alberto Contafor, Richie Porte
Ulissi, Chaves, Cunego, Visconti, Kotchetkov

Weather: sunny and warm with temperatures of 25°C. There will be a breeze with a 20km/h tailwind helping the riders.

TV: the feed is supposed to start around 3.10pm and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm Euro time. Cyclingfans and steephill.tv both have links to pirate feeds with the latter also listing where you can view the race properly too.

The Giro is: …nostalgic. The climb to Abetone was first used in 1928 it’s become more famous because of the 1940 stage from Florence to Modena when Fausto Coppi took off on the climb and went on to win in Modena, his first Giro stage win and he took over the race lead which he kept to the end: the Coppi legend was born here. There’s a small Coppi memorial on the way up, a square stone embedded in a wall. The Giro is full of legends, myths and history and the race makes good use of them, arguably more than the Tour de France. It pays to look back because a large segment of the audience is made up of senior citizens – most Italians are at work – and they might enjoy reliving the tales of Moser, Gimondi and possibly Coppi and Bartali.

John Foot’s “Pedalare! Pedalare! book recounts much of Italy’s cycling history and is a recommended read. A historian, Foot brings in a wider socio-politico-economic context to the role of cycling in Italy over the years but with cycling the central subject and expert detail about the sport, from the pedalling style of Fausto Coppi to the blood chemistry of Marco Pantani. Read this book and you’ll understand why the Giro enjoys looking back.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Augie March Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 6:54 am

    So if Nibali is the current “thing” in Italian cycling and Aru is “the next big thing”, does that make Formolo “the next next big thing”? Whatever the nomenclature, a great win and good cover for the fact that Ryder Hesjedal got dropped and lost 5 minutes. I predict another top 10 for him but no threat to the podium or even top 5. It’s all very well to be a “diesel” and thrive in the third week, but not if the first few days are this intense.

    Also, just wondering if you’ve changed your chainring predictions to max out at three now?

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 8:41 am

      Stages have three chainrings to simplify things rather than trying to grade more riders.

  • Tovarishch Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 7:15 am

    Roads to Ride peace should be Roads to Ride piece, probably. 🙂

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 9:06 am

      It is a calm road… fixed, thanks.

  • Matthew Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 7:29 am

    john Foot’s book is an excellent read and a contrasting companion to the ‘personality’ based Maglia Rosa by Herbie Sykes. Everyone should read at least one this race! Never made it far into Foot’s book about Italian football, heavy going.

    Hoping for Bertie to rip it up today, but expecting Richie to nip off the front at then and grab some seconds back

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 9:09 am

      Maglia Rosa is good too, some rich stories accompanied by great photos.

    • Paul Jakma Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 9:56 am

      Seconded on “Pedalare! Pedalare! Pedalare!” being an excellent book. It goes well beyond the normal cycling book in its detail and discussion – which I enjoyed. A few might prefer a faster-paced, more superficial skipping through the history. The only disappointment for me was reading that it was intended to be part I of a two-part series and not being able to find part II! I hope Foot is still intending to publish that!

  • Anonymous Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 7:44 am

    Could be a decent chance for Porte to grab some bonus seconds. He won’t be allowed to get far ahead though.

    I reckon Chaves will seriously put it on the line today to try and bag the jersey.

    • Tovarishch Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 9:22 am

      He doesn’t need to put anything on the line, though, does he? As long as he stays with the favourites he will be in pink. At least OGE will have no one else to pass the jersey on to.

  • Larry T. Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 7:46 am

    Gotta throw in a plug for my friend Bill McGann’s “The Story of the Giro d’Italia” a two-volume work he produced after years of prodding from yours truly. When I started pestering him there was little in English about La Corsa Rosa but now of course there are many excellent books about the Giro, my favorite race of any year. W Il Giro!

  • TourDeUtah Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 7:53 am

    Another excellent Giro stage !

    No wonder this is my second favorite race. Great parcourse, a solid balance of climbing, descending and twisty roads to test the bike handling skills.

    Vive Il Giro !

  • Mats Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 8:34 am

    Like many others I had the feeling on the monday’s stage that Tinkoffs were overplaying their hand and rode very hard for seemingly very little purpose. Yesterday, they paid the price. At one point in the finale there were five Astanas in a row and Contador riding alone. On a 2nd cat climb! Someone has not been calculating, quoting Mr. Kelly.

    A classy victory for Formolo. It’s nice to see a Garmin guy winning after a long while.

  • J Evans Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 8:35 am

    Tinkoff-Saxo, as many predicted, knackered themselves for no good reason, but Sky did the same thing in the 2013 Tour – the others still have to beat the best rider.
    Hesjedal claims he lost over five minutes due to bad positioning (frankly, he can’t have had very good legs either). Says he had no idea that Astana would ride so hard: that was obvious as they were never going to let a rider of Kreuziger’s calibre have 7 or 8 minutes (or even 3). This is why others don’t ride at the back, Ryder.
    Formolo’s attack was incredible after such a day – but then he had saved himself: he wasn’t doing multiple attacks to drop the rest of the breakaway.
    Clarke should realise that making a mistake doesn’t make you look foolish; not admitting it on the other hand…

    • hoh Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 9:16 am

      If you are referring to stage 8 & subsequent sky melt down on stage 9, at least Sky bagged the yellow & Froome was 2 mins away from closest rival.

    • Mountain Goat Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 1:15 pm

      Great ride by Formolo and a well deserved win. Very happy for Clarke, I guy who works very hard for his team. Orica can maybe pass the baton one more time….
      A great Giro so far.

    • PT Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 2:00 pm

      What do you mean about Clarke?

      • Kevchenko Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 2:31 pm

        He celebrated winning the sprint for second as though he had won.

      • Nick Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 2:34 pm

        Celebrated as though he’d won the stage, until Visconti let him know about Formolo. Apparently he then made out he’d been celebrating the maglia rosa all along.

        • PT Thursday, 14 May 2015, 12:35 am

          I figured that and while that’s your take on it – I found his post-race explanation pretty plausible. It looked like a stage win celebration but he stated that he knew that Formolo was up the road. Particularly plausible when (as he acknowledged) his own team had effectively ridden him down in the breakaway only the day before and this stage was one of the last that OGE could realistically stay in control of the race and keep the leaders jersey. Clarke knew what was at stake and reacted emotionally.

          In the end its impossible for us to say what someone knows or thinks. Maybe he did know, maybe he didn’t. One things for sure, watching on TV or commenting on the internet we are in no position to judge or offer advice and whether the comment was intended that way or not; thats how it read to me.

  • J Evans Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 8:38 am

    Today, I’m predicting that the GC guys ride cagily, watching each other, with no-one making any real attacks or taking any meaningful time. Not a steep climb, so one team will set a fast pace and no-one will want to go in the wind.

    • irungo txuletak Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 11:54 am

      This stage should be for a Ulissi type of rider, who’s able to follow the pace and has a fast finish in intermediate slopes.

      However yesterday’s stage was so surprising that I am not sure yet… Why do they ride like this in a 3 weeks stage race and not on a one-day classic?

      • sam Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 12:34 pm

        Well, distance for starters. Yesterday was 150km, LBL for example is 253km

        Its kind of impractical to compare how riders race a one day classic to a GT stage. Apples vs pears.

  • Steve J Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 9:11 am

    Another excellent write up. Posting simply to say thank you for your brilliant blog. It makes each commute a joy!
    Motion seconded re Pedalare, Pedalare. I had the luck to discover it as one of the few cycling books in my local library and it left a lasting impression. So much so I diverted a holiday in Piedmont to several spots mentioned in the book.

    Chapeau, INRG.

  • Anonymous Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 9:12 am

    Could Tinkoff-Saxo have realized that if Kreuziger had got 5-10 mins and been able to hold on for overall victory then his pending bio passport case would come to bite them hard two months down the line? So, realizing this they started to chase.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 10:23 am

      I doubt it, if they were embarrassed about his case they would not have selected him to ride.

      • Netserk Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 11:31 am

        Why not? He can still be an excellent domestique to Alberto even if he is banned in June and stripped of all results the last year. However if he had gained 6 minutes in the break and managed to win the Giro, only for the win to be stripped a month later, it would look bad (and draw more focus) and it would deny Alberto the chance to do his Giro-Tour double.

        • J Evans Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 8:06 pm

          Exactly. If Kreuziger helps Contador and then gets banned, it’s quickly forgotten – and he wasn’t a TS rider when these passport irregularities occurred.
          Kreuziger winning the Giro and then being banned would clearly be a PR catastrophe.

  • noel Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 9:34 am

    maybe Sky get the train rolling on the final climb, having let Saxo/Astana tire themselves in the last couple of days, for Richie to nick off the front and pinch a few bonus seconds back on Bertie?

  • sam Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 10:00 am

    well if nothing else, Oleg taking over from Riis as the Fat Controller is producing amusement as well as bewilderment over Tinki’s tactics

    and….Forza Formolo! Great win, great stage

    • Tovarishch Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 10:28 am

      The thought of Tinkov in a top hat and morning suit is quite worrying.

      • Anonymous Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 11:45 am

        Tinkov in a mourning suit, on the other hand, as he bids a teary farewell to the world of cycling would make a lot of people very happy indeed.

  • Cameron Isles Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 1:16 pm

    Oleg Tinkov @olegtinkov · May 10
    Finally win for #sky in GT, but I’m happy cause I put a bet on Elio Viviani and @habana028 List to me €200, so I am happy anyway #Giro


    1.2.030 Anyone subject to the UCI regulations may not be involved directly or indirectly in the
    organisation of bets on cycling competitions, under penalty of a suspension of between
    8 days and one year and/or a fine of CHF 2,000 to 200,000. In addition, if an organiser is involved, any competition organized by him may be excluded from the calendar for one year.

    • J Evans Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 8:01 pm

      That’ll be a CHF 2,000 fine then – unfortunately.

  • Richard S Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 1:54 pm

    I’d like to see at Grand Tour start with a Prologue rather than a Team Time Trial, if only because I’m sick of Orica hogging leaders jerseys in the first few days of races! It’s a bizzare thing to specialise in if you think about it, a bit like building a Grand Prix car that was rapid over 1 lap, always qualified on pole, led the race for 10 laps and then went pop. Still, better than all those teams who achieve nothing I suppose.

    • J Evans Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 8:07 pm

      +1 for not having TTT as the first stage.

  • Alex M. Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 2:12 pm

    ^^ All but a few teams would be thrilled to succeed so spectacularly for one week, even if it’s just the opening week. From the sponsors’ point of view, that might be the week with the most vigorous fan interest in a grand tour. I find my interest wanes in weeks 2 and 3 unless something extraordinary happens. Also, my fantasy team is usually dead and buried after 5 days!

  • Carlo Thursday, 14 May 2015, 2:37 pm

    Speaking about Contador changing bike…
    When a bike gets changed it’s quite a fast job, don’t they transfer the microchip transponder identifying the rider? Sometimes a team mate gives his own bike to another distressed rider. I did not notice looking in TV any other tinkering around the bike.

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 14 May 2015, 2:50 pm

      The timing chips are indicative only, all riders are checked across the line using the finish line camera.