Giro Stage 5 Preview

Today’s finish has cobbles, flagstones and an uphill finish. A touch of spice but probably a day for the sprinters before tomorrow and the first summit finish of the race.

Stage 4 Wrap: Diego Ulissi has had his ups and downs. The deepest downer has to be his anti-doping suspension, a ninth month ban for a large dose of anti-asthma drug salbutamol. We’ll never know if he was injecting it or had too many puffs on the inhaler (nine puffs on a Ventolin inhaler can send you beyond the WADA limit claims a study) but it’s a stain on his CV and not helped by his association with Michele Bartoli. His ups invariably come on the roads, this time on the steep Via Fortino. As a punchy climber he’s taken four stages of the Giro already and now gets Lampre-Merida’s fifth win of the year. He took off on the final climb and just held off the chasers.

The stage had more than its share of action after a fast start. A move went clear but Nippo-Vini Fantini missed it and they were forced into a punishment chase to bring it back. Later on a series of moves flew and eventually a group formed including Ulissi and crucially his team mate Valerio Conti. Conti did a lot of work to keep the move going, toiling on the front to try and tow the group clear of a chase led by Movistar. Conti is 23 and a fuoriclasse, whispered to be tipped for the top. He’s from Rome which is rare given the paucity of cyclists to be found south of Tuscany, indeed it was in the central Italian region that he raced as an amateur with the Mastromarco team… as did Vincenzo Nibali too. Conti’s from a cycling family, his grandfather Noé rode in the service of Fausto Coppi.

Ulissi held off the chase, just as Tom Dumoulin and Steven Kruijswijk came in ahead of the bunch. Some say Dumoulin’s ambitions go beyond a good opening week but surely if he wanted to win the Giro outright he’d be shepherding his energies right now? Domenico Pozzovivo’s attack on the final climb lit things up and cost the likes of Andrey Amador time while Mikel Landa had a scare but work by Nico Roche got the Basque back.

The Route: up and down but with gradual climbs. The race continues north and reaches Campania and the region around Naples. The early marked climb is an incentive for a breakaway although the 3rd category label offers meagre rewards. Later on the profile may look hilly but most of the time the climbs are gradual and long and on large, wide, straight roads, some of which are the Via Appia, the ancient Roman road. Later on in the stage things get more modern as the road takes tunnels rather than scaling the hills.

The Finish: one lap of a 6.6km circuit around Benevento. The riders turn onto the circuit just at the 1km to go banner and pass the finish line to hear the bell ringing before a lap around the backstreets of the town. As the profile shows the finish is uphill to the line and it’s cobbled. With 1km to go the road has smooth urban pavé which gives way to tarmac and then comes a section of big polished flagstones which are hard to sprint on out of the saddle, these end then there’s more tarmac before the race takes a paved pedestrian shopping street to the line. It might not show up on TV but the town has plenty of historical buildings.

The Contenders: if Marcel Kittel most certainly couldn’t hang on yesterday then he and the other sprinters will be all the more rested for today. The uphill finish isn’t ideal but he’s won races on steeper rides, say a stage of Paris-Nice in 2013.

André Greipel is solid in uphill finishes too but his problem is that if he is in contention for the finish then surely so is Kittel and the opening stages suggest Kittel is simply lengths ahead of the rest.


Arnaud Démare is another rider who excels in an uphill sprint, the FDJ rider has won a stage in the Tour de Suisse in an uphill finish ahead of Matt Goss back in the days when Goss was world class and also taken the hilly Halle-Ingoigem classic (pictured) among other runs to the line.

An uphill finish? Caleb Ewan won one in the Vuelta but before you rush to the bookmakers the rough finish with its flagstones could be tricky for someone who sprints with so much weight over the front of the bike, his rear wheel could easily lose traction as the bikes bounce over the stones. Plus he’s yet to look convincing, he didn’t crack the top-5 in the Netherlands and was getting chopped off the good wheels by his rivals.

Yesterday’s stage though leaves a question mark hanging over predictions like some Damoclean thread. If things were ripped up yesterday then what about a breakaway today? There is a good chance but the steady roads still suit a sprint stage and Giant-Alpecin will help defend Dumoulin’s chances before Etixx-Quickstep take over.

Marcel Kittel
Arnaud Démare, André Greipel
Ewan, Colbrelli, Modolo, Nizzolo, Viviani, Sbaragli, Porsev, Haussler

Weather: sunny and warm to start but the rising temperatures could prompt the clouds to build and a rain shower is possible. A top temperature of 26°C and still.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm Euro time. If you have to ration your Giro viewing then today’s stage is one to tune in late with a likely sprint finish but as yesterday’s stage showed, check online what’s happening just in case the race is split to pieces.

Eurosport is covering the race across most of Europe. beIN SPORT has the rights in the US and France while Italian host broadcaster RAI offers the best coverage with experienced commentators as well as roving reporters on motorbikes to add extra coverage. As ever, cyclinghub and are the go-to sites for schedules and pirata feeds.

36 thoughts on “Giro Stage 5 Preview”

  1. The thing that would make me tip against Ewan is the length of the stage. It’s similar in profile to the Vuelta one he bagged last year, but that was only 167km, and the extra 55km here could be a bit much for a very young rider.

    • Gaviria is a few days younger than Ewan and came close in MSR so it is at least possible, although Ewan seems more fast twitch than Gaviria to me so you’re probably right

    • Agreed, the distance will be a big issue for Caleb, especially as Orica is on the record in stating they’re slowly building up Ewan’s endurance – they really don’t want him to burn out.

      It’ll be a huge victory for Caleb if he finishes in the front group and has a go at the sprint, but definitely I wouldn’t bank on him winning. Kittel is on amazing form, and right behind him are a bunch of really strong fast men. Kittel for sure is the favourite.

  2. Kittel looks strong, and is looking for more stage wins before the mountain stages in week 3, so he’s my pick for this stage. As for Ewan, he’s no where to be found at the end of the stage. Are his team mates looking out for him properly, . . I wonder? It would have been a real kicker to have Gaviria here along with Kittel.

    • Why would they bring Gaviria along with Kittel? You’d have to opt for one or the other, as they’re both prime sprinters, and E-Q hardly need to stir up in-house rivalries that might start brewing down the line.

    • If he’s dropped he’s dropped, OGE’s main focus is on Chaves for the GC so he’s the protected rider. Ewan is there to win sprints if possible but also for more experience in riding grand tours.

  3. “Dumoulin’s ambitions go beyond a good opening week but surely if he wanted to win the Giro outright he’d be shepherding his energies right now?”

    To me that suggests the opposite. The fact he’s using energy to grab time bonuses suggests he’s interested in GC and realises every second counts, given he’ll lose time in mountain stages. If he was only interested in the TTs he’d have just been content to finish in the front group. If Nibali had grabbed second place yesterday and the time bonus we’d all be praising his race astuteness…

    • Yesterday Dumoulin said to Belgian tv he is still not focused on GC. The second part of the race is too hard for him and he isn’t prepared. No altitude training.

      • Fair enough, I think it will probably be too much for him but if he has even the smallest ambition it makes sense to play it down. He’ll be hoping one or two mountain stages are snowed off then you never know. I’m biased though as I have a few quid riding on him each way.

        • His team / trainers will wait and see how he will come out of the Giro and then focus on the Olympics training. But he said it’s impossible to be a podium contender without altitude training and he thinks he can’t compete in the final week.

    • Agreed – my thoughts were ‘Why isn’t Valverde sprinting for this? 7 seconds could be useful and it wouldn’t have used that much energy – plus it’s likely to be pretty restful for GC guys today.

      • Seems odd to suggest that Doumolin should have been keeping his powder dry but not Kruijswijk? Surely he is a team lead aiming for a high GC as well?

        I think Doumolin definitely has other priorities (post-giro)… but it’s vaguely reminiscent of his Vuelta performance… I could see him hanging on and limiting his losses for a top 6 at the end… surely still a worthy goal even if he does carry pink into the first mountain stage.

      • Valverde did sprint…for 4th…even looked like he opened up really early to try and close the gap. He had no team-mates in the lead group to send to the front to pull back Dumoulin and Kruijswijk.

        • And he’s always so unwilling to do any work himself – even if it would benefit him sometimes: follow Dumoulin and beat him in the sprint.
          He’s won a lot of races, but he’s also got an awful lot of podiums by riding in this conservative way, whereas in some of those races he could have been more aggressive and won (or come 7th).
          Taking bonus seconds played a large part in his Vuelta victory and I’d imagine he’d need these here too if he was to win.

          • This is pub talk of the first order – he’s beaten more often than not by the big hitter of the day. He’s wily and plays to his strengths. His performance at Andalucia this year undermines your view. If there’s a key break he’s often in it.

          • Except that today he sprinted and made sure he was ahead of the gap – thus gaining himself 4 seconds on Nibali and Landa (along with Zakarin).
            P. Gilbert also says precisely the same thing about Valverde.
            And those 6 World Championship podiums probably count for something.

    • Couldn’t it be somewhere between the two positions. Grab pink early and hang on to it for as long as possible. There’s no GC position aspiration what’s the point in “only” trying to win the ITT stages when pink is within reach and can be held for as long as possible. If he loses it, he loses it, “I was never targetting GC” but if he’s still close towards the last stages then… “I will try” 🙂

  4. Loved the desire for seconds Dumoulin showed. Love him or hate him you can’t deny he’s an attacker and a fighter who enlivens the course. Impressive too that Kruijswijk managed to join, looks alert. Preidler and Conti looked excellent on the final climbs, both seem to have excellent legs.

  5. I don’t think it was an attack from Pozzovivo, I think he was merely upping the pace a bit to make sure he was well-positioned before the descent. Hopefully something we’ll see him repeat with his limited skills in that department..

  6. This one looks a lot like yesterday and given it was almost a GC battle and everybody was wrong about their reviews I don’t think the big guys will make it today. I see this as an Ullissi, Moser, Visconti, Wellens kind of stage with a reduced bunch anyway. Some of the more hard stage sprinters maybe, Trentin, Colbrelli…

  7. Is it just me, but (and I presume that RAI are putting the television feed out) it seemed like there was a tv camera moto or two short yesterday?
    Difficult terrain I know and the race lit up big time, with things happening here and there, but why devote a scarce camera to Kittel’s travails?
    OK, show us he’s blown up, but all the action was on the front.

    Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by a Spring following the most excellent Sporza.
    Anyway, in some ways, the tv production confusion mirrored the drama on the road and added to the excitement!
    Ha, we got there in the end.

    • I was yelling at the TV screen a time or two yesterday….RAI refers to the director as the same guy that’s been there for years, but maybe he’s distracted in some way? I realize the “postcard” images have to be shown, but yesterday they waited until the action was thick during the finale to run ’em. There was plenty of nothing much going on where those would be just fine to look at, but it’s annoying as hell to have the video flip over to something that doesn’t much matter during the thick of the action!

  8. I expect Hofland at the front today as well. A slightly uphill sprint suits him better (see his Paris-Nice victory two years ago). Don’t think it’s enough for the win, but he deserves to be mentioned after 4th and 7th in the Netherlands on finishes that don’t really suit him.

  9. Any news on Cancellara’s recovery from sickness? He’s looked really gaunt and washed out in photos but maybe thats selective editing. In a different season he might have been in action on a stage like today’s….If he has lost weight and can recover his form he might pull some suprises later in the race.

    • He’s supposed to be riding his own “Cornercard Cancellara Classic” gran fondo event in 10 days time so he may well leave the race. The Chianti TT is probably the goal but Dumoulin will be the big contender for that

  10. My take on Dumoulin is that he might be expending energy in this first week to gain anything he can against the GC contenders, to then monster the TT on stage 9, and see if he’s in pink and has some kind of lead. Then when the mountains arrive he has something to defend and can see how the legs are.

    As for today, if we’re assuming Kittel can get over the lumps and be a contender I don’t see how you can pick anyone else?

    • Yes, indeed.. and who knows – with so many mountain peaks above 2000m in the last week, it really depends if mother nature is willing to let this Giro play out or if time in the bank will be even more valuable.

  11. The interviews w/ Dumoulin make it pretty clear – he’s going for GC but he just didn’t train for it. He trained specifically for TT’s, not climbing.

  12. Kruijswijk could be standing in the way of overall victory for one of the big favourites. He has shown how strong he often is in the last week of the Tour of Italy, last year he was among the 3 strongest climbers in that last week. Only Contador and Landa were stronger, but Contador isn’t competing this year and Landa has not yet shown he is in top shape. I would argue that in this first week, Kruijswijk is the strongest of GC contenders, let’s see if he will again show his superior ability to recover in week 3.

Comments are closed.