Stage 5 Wrap: a sprint win for André Greipel. Giant-Alpecin set the pace with help from Lotto-Soudal while Etixx-Quickstep were discreet all day. Was Kittel off the pace? Yes was the answer as he was dropped as the race rode into town. A late crash into the final bend by Rein Taaramäe didn’t disturb Greipel and he launched his sprint from afar. It was almost an attack and he surged away from everyone else, a powerful end to what was otherwise a boring stage.
The Route: the Bocca della Selva is 18km long but gentle, an average of 5.6% but the last 7km are at 7%. It’s enough to sap the sprinters but not enough to split the field apart. Similarly the descent is gradual and then the race runs along the valley floor, passing the turning to Campitello Matese (a summit finish last year when Beñat Intxausti dropped Sebastian Reichenbach to win the stage). The undulations on the way to the final climb are on large, well-engineered roads, the kind you can drive a truck at speed on. They’re not selective but they will add to the fatigue.
The Finish: 17km at 4.8% but with staircase-like profile as the gradient changes through different sections making this a collection of slopes rather than one constant climb. It’ll pay to be on a good wheel as the speed will be high and drafting matters.
The final kilometres see the race cross open pastures across a plateau before the road kicks up to the line, the roadbook says the last kilometre is 7.9% but it’s more gentle for most of the way before a final kick up to the line.
The Contenders: this is supposed to be the Diego Ulissi stage but he’s already won. The route is perfect for him with climbing all the way to the line before he can deliver the kind of finishing sprint that’s seen him win stages of the Giro. Lampre-Merida are not a big team but come with solid riders for the finish in order to pace their man and if he can take a time bonus and get a gap then the maglia rosa is a possibility too.
Alejandro Valverde is another obvious pick, he climbs fast and sprints well and has taken many wins from finishes like this, see the Vuelta last year. He will want the time bonus too, if he can place on a few stages it means harvesting valuable seconds which he will lose in the time trials.
Tom Dumoulin is in good shape and suited to punchy finishes like this. He leads the race which is a responsibility but also means its up to the others to take risks while can can any moves in his own time.
Esteban Chaves has a good jump in his legs and is probably the climber you’ve not been thinking about but we’ll quickly see how he’s faring. Mikel Landa is the climber you’re thinking about and he should feature. Today’s finish has a flat run towards the final kilometre so it’s hard for him to test the climbing legs but he can make the last 500m count. Steven Kruijswijk looked sharp the other day as he rode away from the bunch but he’s a most infrequent winner with only one victory celebration to his name.
Can Ilnur Zakarin sprint? He can climb and time trial and outrode Nairo Quintana in Romandie plus he was 12th yesterday and seventh the day before. A high finish is possible but it’s hard to see him getting the better of the names above. Rein Taaramäe could make amends for his crash in the finish yesterday, if he’s just lost a bit of skin then pride might spur him on to the win
Cannondale have Rigoberto Uran, Moreno Moser and Simon Clarke for today. Moser is looking better but still seems nervous, he tried to ride away from the bunch two days ago but it was too much, too soon. So what if Davide Formolo strikes out today, he has the talent but his form is unknown.
Damiano Cunego is having a good Giro. The Little Prince is currently reigning as the king of the mountains and as La Gazzetta pointed it it means he’s been on the podium again for the first time since 2004 when he won the race. He’s now targeting stages not the overall but beating all the names above is a big ask so he might look to get in a move.
Vincenzo Nibali is still the big pick for the overall classification but on the Via Fortino he looked hesitant. It’s hard to see him wining today even if he should place in the top-10 so look to see how at ease he feels and how well Astana do.
|Diego Ulissi, Alejandro Valverde
|Esteban Chaves, Tom Dumoulin
|Cunego, Taaramäe, Formolo, Majka, Preidler, McCarthy
Weather: sunny most of the stage with some clouds and the outside chance of a shower in the hills. Cooler temperatures with 20°C in the valleys and down to 11°C the finish.
TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm Euro time. Tune in for the final 45 minutes to watch the approach to the climb and climb itself even if the decisive moment is only likely to happen right at the end. If nothing appears to be happening on the climb look for the details: is Vincenzo Nibali looking comfortable? Which teams have strength in numbers.
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 cyclingfans.com, cyclinghub and steephill.tv are the go-to sites for schedules and pirata feeds. The timing will vary but the finish is expected for around 5.15pm CET each day.