Almost a rest day. Certainly fans and grand tour contenders alike can stand down from full alert and watch a sprint finish.
Stage 5 Wrap: Jan Polanc waited. We’ve seen pacing efforts for the Hour Record where some have taken off too fast too soon and paid the price. The Lampre-Merida rider soaked up the attacks from Sylvain Chavanel and Silvan Dillier before going clear and staying away for the stage win. Polanc (soft “c” when you say his name, think Polanski without “ki”) is Slovenian and like so many of his compatriots has made a career of racing in Italy, the Italian U23 and amateur ranks are packed with riders from this small country and Polanc should be yet more inspiration.
Behind, perspiration as Astana and Tinkoff-Saxo continued their aggressive racing. On the steep section of the final climb Astana started launching riders only Alberto Contador responded in person and only Fabio Aru and Richie Porte could match him. But match him they did and this wasn’t the sizzling Contador who jumps away to never been seen again by his rivals. Aru looked controlled while Porte is right where he needs to be, marking two riders inferior to him in a time trial.
Too soon for Contador to take the race lead? Yes, I think yesterday’s aggression was a both a private fitness test and a signal to Astana that he can take them on rather than attempt to establish a lead. If he consents to it the jersey can be lost to a breakaway a lot more easily than it was won. The worry for fans is that we’ve had a wild opening week but already we’re down to just three contenders for the GC as Uran lost more time.
The Route: ignore the climbing mid-stage because this is gradual most of the time with just two sharper spikes to tackle. If any sprinter is struggling here they’ll struggle in the finish too. Otherwise this is a 183km jaunt south across Tuscany.
The Finish: the race sweeps into town with a kilometre long flat finishing straight by the seaside.
The Contenders: a sprint finish seems certain as the teams with sprinters have to make the most of the days available. Lotto picks André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Moreno Hofland (Lotto-Jumbo) are the joint picks for the stage especially give the flat run to the line. But as we saw in Genova, several other names can pounce. Red points jersey wearer Elia Viviani is the obvious choice. Luka Mezgec (Giant-Alpecin) hasn’t been as convincing but only needs one chance to change the story while Michael Matthews (Orica-Greenedge) will fancy a go, his versatility means trading top-end speed for climbing so he’s not the automatic choice today despite his class; the same for Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) who doesn’t seem to have the speed for a dragstrip dash.
A mention of IAM Cycling’s Matteo Pelucchi who is suffering from fatigue and Trek Factory Racing’s Giacomo Nizzolo who is having allergy problems.
|André Greipel, Moreno Hofland
|Elia Viviani, Luka Mezgec
|Modolo, Matthews, Nizzolo, Pelucchi, Petacchi, Lobato
Weather: warm and sunny with the thermometer reaching 27°C and a 20-30km/h crosswind for some of the stage.
The Giro is: …barely profitable. It might be Italy’s biggest race and sell TV rights around the world but this is no licence to print money. RCS (say “air-chee-essay”) owns the race and runs it within the RCS Sport division, a small unit within RCS’s “Pubblicità ed eventi” (advertising and events) division, itself a small division set against RCS’s main publishing assets of newspapers and books in Italy and Spain. Buried within the RCS accounts is the table above which lists €48 million in income for all of RCS Sport’s activities from cycling (Tirreno-Adriatico, Lombardia, Dubai Tour etc) but also basketball, Italy’s Serie B football, the Milan marathon and more. So €48 million of revenue from all of this implies the Giro only accounts for a small share of this and by deduction any profit is smaller still. A fuller take on RCS and the money will appear here later today.