Giro Stage 5 Preview

A hard day’s racing in Calabria, 225km with a tiring climb at the end, today’s is a mountain stage.

Nono, si si: Simon Pellaud lasted the longest from the breakaway while behind Bora-Hansgrohe accelerated on the day’s climb and dropped several sprinters, it set up a long pursuit race with Fernando Gaviria and his UAE team adrift at 30 seconds. Bora’s tactics worked in that it kept the Colombian at bay but also used up riders who might have been used in the sprint train for later. We got the predicted sprint and it needed a photofinish to tell the riders apart, there was a moment when Quickstep started cheering after the line thinking Davide Ballerini had won but the official verdict fell and Arnaud Démare was the most photogenic. Peter Sagan was an inevitable second but so close and his stage win is getting closer.

Meanwhile further back several riders were taken out when crash barriers fell into the road. A gust of wind, or the downwash from a TV helicopter? Vini Zabu manager Angelo Citracca blamed the helicopter but got shut down on RAI TV. Now perhaps they wanted to establish the facts first and as of now we don’t know what happened and why it happened, just that Luca Wackermann is out of the Giro. But it’s awkward for all sides, the team could complain but given they depend on a wildcard invitation from the organisers, who in turn rely on RAI as their biggest source of income… complicated. It brings to mind the case of Johnny Hoogerland and that barbed wire fence in the Auvergne, long a tricky subject at France Télévisions.

The Route: a hilly day in Calabria with some hard roads, this is a stealth mountain stage, it’s 225km with well over 4,000m of vertical gain.

The Valico di Montescuro (“Dark Mountain Pass”) is 25km long and a steady climb for the most part but they turn off the main road for the passage through Spezzano and this is a tactical moment as it’s both steep and narrow here. Then it’s back to the main road which winds its way up. The descent is similar to the ascent, a wide road.

The Finish: the descent ends with 4km to go, from here it’s undulating but fast and with 500m to go there’s a quick chicane before the finishing straight which rises a touch before the line.

The Contenders: a good day for a breakaway, if the move can stay clear the winner can either barge away on the climb, or win the sprint from the group. For the former Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) is looking like a good pick, also Valerio Conti (UAE Emirates), Joey Rosskopf (CCC) and maybe Rohan Dennis (Ineos). For the latter Diego Ulissi (UAE Emirates), Fabio Felline (Astana), Tony Gallopin (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Lucas Hamilton (Mitchelton-Scott) come to mind, but these are archetypal riders rather than certain picks, it’s a lottery scenario.

A GC battle? Why not? Well because the Montescuro climb is more 5-6% rather than 7% or more so it’s not steep enough to be really selective. But it’s long, it comes after 200km and there are not so many teams to control things so it could be worth a try.

Diego Ulissi, Valerio Conti
De Gendt, Felline

Weather: not the welcome to the mainland the riders might want, 18°C and rain showers.

TV: the climb out of Cosenza begins around 3.10pm CEST and finish is forecast for 4.30pm.

There’s also the Brabantse Pijl race today, with Julian Alaphilippe and Mathieu van der Poel in a rematch, the Dutchman beat the new world champion last year. What time does it finish? A mystery as the race organisers don’t want to communicate the course details and timings in order to dissuade people from coming to see the race… but you should be able to watch today’s Giro finish and then switch over to the finish in Belgium.

58 thoughts on “Giro Stage 5 Preview”

  1. Always nice to be first comment!
    I’ve been wondering what Rohan Dennis might do as it seems clear here’s not going to trouble Ganna in the TT’s but he’s too good to just sit in the bunch. Would be great to see him win a stage even if a break feels like unusual territory for him?

    I’m actually far more gutted than I expected about Thomas’ exit. I realise it will likely make the race better but just seems very unfortunate when Thomas has such a clear opportunity to deservedly put his palmares to a new level. And a battle between Fuglsang, Nibali and Kelderman does feel second tier amongst the current Grand Tour favourites.

    I would be very happy to see Tony Gallopin win today, his career seems to have stumbled since he lost the love of his life to Alaphilippe.

    • Re Dennis the next time trial is undulating and fairly long so he might be closer to Ganna there, if not faster. The last time trial is after the Alps and this is Ganna’s first grand tour so even if he makes it he might not be at his best!

      • Thomas has a list of palmares longer than my Carrefour shopping list; not to mention winning and coming a very close second ( some think probable winner if the race had not been truncated) in the Tour de France.

        Why are the people who post this kind of envious junk always anonymous? I think we can make a guess.

        • Ah, I see, now we’re talking palmares. So why then is Nibali a “second tier” rider then, but not Thomas? A monument and 3 Grand Tours and a lot of stage races and stages in Grand Tours is a bit more than these other palmares…
          That’s the fun about discussing with nationalists, they tend to glorify their mediocre guys over real classy riders.
          Lame comments about how Nibali only won in “weak” fields awaiting….give me a break…

      • Thomas has one of the most varied palmares of any of the current peloton; grand tour overall, grand tour stages, classics wins, 1 week stage overalls…

        Oh, and 2 Olympic gold medals

      • If you’re talking legends, yes but I don’t think you were. I’d imagine there are a whole host of ‘second tier riders’ who would pay a lot of money to have Thomas’ palmares

    • oldDAVE, do you actually know any details about Gallopin’s personal life? Do you know how and why they broke up? Do you know if this affected his cycling? Would any of this be your business?

        • Oh blimey maybe being first comment wasn’t the best idea!

          Sorry if I caused any offence – I like Gallopin a lot and as INRNG mentioned have felt sorry for him recently. I feel like him, Geraint Thomas (who I think are friends?) and Thomas De Ghent are all vaguely similar riders who’s careers have interestingly taken completely different routes. Gallopin has the talent to win widely but things seem to have not fallen into place. I won’t mention the gfriend again! I admit, I like a bit of Heat magazine gossip every so often and we don’t get much in cycling!

          On Dennis – I know what you mean RichardS, similar has gone through my head but I just have a feeling Ganna is going so well that everyone’s clutching at straws believing some rolling hills will slow him down that much – I may very well be wrong, but I’m going to stick my neck out on that one.

          Anyway… it seems like Ganna is the one taking on today already! Amazing.

          On second tier, you’re right it’s harsh and the best riders change so often it’s hard to keep up… but I feel like in general we know that none of the leaders of this race currently could keep up with Pogacar, Bernal, Roglic, Thomas, Dumoulin on top form, and those five (waiting on Froome’s recovery…) feel like the current top tier with S.Yates in between on good days, and Nibali, Porte, Landa, Mas, Lopez and others a level down.

          Thomas has clearly been in the top league since 2018, having beaten quality riders that year and then followed it up a year later, whether he could go with a Pogacar or Froome on top form is debatable but the current results we have definitely puts him in the upper bracket.

  2. I have to say to those that complain about inflated team budgets and rider wages, road cycling has to be about the hardest and most dangerous sport out there and all the riders are worth every damn euro they get.
    And please don’t say, when riders crash and get seriously injured, that it makes the race more interesting.
    That’s my contribution for today, feeling a bit shell shocked by all the damage these last few weeks to be honest.

    • Nobody complains that riders aren’t worth the money; they complain that having one or two very wealthy teams isn’t good for the sport.
      Races often get more interesting if favourites drop out – it’s not a slight on that person to say so, and it’s not saying that the crash itself is interesting.
      TV commentators tell us every year that there are more crashes – this year’s spurious reason I’ve heard being that they’re lacking race practice due to COVID. There aren’t more crashes; it’s just that everything is filmed these days, whether officially or unofficially.

      • I agree, I don’t think there are more crashes in recent years, but they’re under more scrutiny due to increased TV coverage, and maybe increased media presence for cycling in some countries.

        Still, if there’s a way some crashes could be avoided, it’s probably worth the effort to look at how to do it. I’m just afraid that many of those easy “well, let’s just do that” answers neglect that most races are organized by 6 people with the equivalent of the club’s penny jar.

        @ Ecky Thump: acknowledging that the race is more open now with a couple favorites crashing out, isn’t the same as wishing them ill fate. I think even the most cynical Schadenfreudists of cycling fans wouldn’t wish physical harm on a rider.

        • I have no stats for it, but beyond the awful weather in Nice which caused a lot of crashes on one day, I thought there were less crashes in the TdF than previous years.
          Normally the first week is replete with them as nervous riders jockey for position. After that things settle down, riders aren’t so energetic and self-preservation is the key factor.
          I suppose it’s also important to caveat the ‘less crashes’ as being defined as ‘less riders who crashed’ – pile up involving multiple riders were few. But due to Nice’s inclement weather there were probably more individual moments (like Lopez’s).

    • “hardest and most dangerous sport”
      I think motorcycle road racers, Isle of Man TT, North West 200, etc who earn absolute peanuts and risk their lives every race to a hugely higher probability of serious injury and death would disagree with your statement.

  3. Monte Scuro is not as easy as it looks – I did the climb in 2016 on a Italy north-south biketour in 2016. it’s not a Blockhaus, but i recall it as very irregular with lots of short steep ramps in th 15-20% range and much more difficult than expected (so difficult that i didn’t continue up to Monte Botte Donato as planned and just took the downhill to Camligatello Silano and crossed the Silla plataut to San Giovanni in Fiore).

    Downhill is not dangerous and better surfaced than the climb so it will be easy to stay away – it will be a GC day, non local riders may not know though.

      • I took a different road up to Spezzano (750m) but the last 13km to to the top are the same (E846/SS107 road to Spezzano is an expressway that does not always allow bicycles – can be a tricky in southern Italy).

        In my daily research i excluded the road they are doing today (SP219/SP226) because the road fromTrenta to Spezzano looked stupid steep on my Kummerly und Frey map.
        I followed the old road ‘Via Stazione’ allong E846/SS107 (may be called SP246) until Spezzano at arround 750m – its 5km longer, but after a stupid steep road out of Cosenza its a more managable on a CX ti-bike with 10kg in a Carradice SQR bag.

        My comment is mainly for the SP256 from Spezzano which is the road they are following today.

      • I took a different road from Cozensa to Spezzano (750m) but the last 13km to to the top are the same (E846/SS107 road to Spezzano is an expressway that does not always allow bicycles – can be a tricky in southern Italy but the old roadon the same route still exists and since E846/SS107 is next to it the old road is only used by bicycles, and tractors).

        In my daily research i excluded the southern road they are doing today (SP219/SP226) because the road from Trenta to Spezzano looked stupid steep on my Kummerly und Frey map.

        I followed the old road ‘Via Stazione’ next to E846/SS107 (may be called SP246) until Spezzano at arround 750m – its 5km longer, but after a stupid steep road out of Cosenza its a more managable on a CX ti-bike with 10kg in a Carradice SQR bag.

        My comment is mainly for the SP256 from Spezzano to Monte Scuro which is the road they are following today. After Spezzano it has insanely steep ramps…

        My tip is Pozzovivo will attempt to do something – he lives and grew up less than 150km from Cozensa – he proberbly knows the climb. Only Nibali and Fuglsang will be able to follow….

    • I think you are right. If it was an isolated bad day he should be OK – and maybe regain a little confidence, if it was more than that, he will struggle again.

    • That is a very unlikely scenario – Pozzovivo should know the climb. If he goes it will signal a 3 man battle between Pozzovivo, Fuglsang and Nibali.

    • I assume Yates is still delibiratly attempting to loose time so he can do a double Froome / Lasndis in the final week.

      …Yates is not there just like G.Thomas never was there…

  4. On the basis of the first 3 stages it’s hard to predict what’ll happen. The lack of a controlling team has to be good for the breakaway, though i suppose Quick Step might try to keep it under control for Almeida. We could end up with another little GC slugout today, should be interesting.

  5. There’s also the Brabantse Pijl race today, with Julian Alaphilippe and Mathieu van der Poel in a rematch, the Dutchman beat the new world champion last year. What time does it finish? A mystery as the race organisers don’t want to communicate the course details and timings in order to dissuade people from coming to see the race…

    Really??? I can’t believe this is really happening and it beggars believe that people still have not realised this scam.

  6. Geraint Thomas appears to have an unerring talent for finding elephant traps a great shame. Longer term Steven Kruijswijk seems to be in with a real chance of actually winning the race and he has a pretty good team behind him, Wilko Keldermann could well be in the mix, not convinced about Vincenzo Nibali, the desire and guile is very much still there but not sure if the form is.

    Today has Thomas de Gendt written all over it though not sure he is quite the force he was. I guess there will be a lot of riders pushing to get in the break especially as there is not a lot of incentive for teams to control so it might be he gets serious competition, from Diego Ullisi or others when the break goes.

  7. Great stage yesterday, if it’s like this, it’s ok to have sprints from time to time. I thought Trek was going to attack when crossing that town on the descent, but they didn’t.

  8. At least the TV footage didn’t bother with an aerial shot of the barrier crash. That would have been tactless…
    I initially thought that it was a strong coastal wind that had caused it as they had talked about a headwind in the finishing straight, and was surprised at the proximity of the beach to the finish line.

  9. Sagan seems to have forgotten how to sprint. Yesterday – like many days in the TdF – he went to early, and during the TdF there were a number of days where he was out of position and/or pinballing into people. I suppose it’s desperation as he’s no longer winning as consistently as he used to, plus there are people like Van Aert and Hirschi coming up who can do what he used to do whilst he seemingly can’t.

  10. I would offer a hearty chapeau to Bora this year for making sprint stages at the Tour and now the Giro more exciting than the GC stages. I admire their willingness to commit the whole team to take advantage of whatever the terrain or race situation is giving them. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. – so even though Sagan missed the win by the depth of his tire yesterday – he still took a shot at it. Sooner or later, some of those close seconds will become wins.

  11. RAI: missing the intermediate sprint when Viviani crashed, missing two mountain sprints yesterday, allegedly their helicopter blowing over barriers, repeatedly missing action because they’re showing repeats of what we’ve already seen, and – as always – losing their pictures when it rains (that doesn’t happen to other TV companies – why are RAI so dreadful?).

    • Probably cost of having more outriders and helicopters. The Giro doesn’t have the marketability of the TdF, and so has less of budget for the coverage.

      • Exactly, the Tour de France TV rights don’t sell for that much in part because of the production costs. Now imagine the Giro, RAI has to try and do the same but for a fraction of the budget, it’s generally good but yes there can be problems.

      • Rain doesn’t stop the TV pictures in Belgium, France, Holland, Spain with any regularity. It does in Italy. I’ve no idea why. But that has to be RAI’s fault.

    • I agree that video direction hasn’t been great (and I hate some of the choices they make, like those super slow-motion shots where nothing happens). But the helicopter being grounded in bad weather happens regularly, not just on the Giro.

  12. INRNG kinda called today – said it was a long drag suited to a time trialist – just got the wrong Ineos rider! Gotta be half a point still!

  13. Wow! What a ride! I barely knew who Ganna was before the World TT, he’s definitely riding a solid bit of form at the moment. Good job on him, solid way for Sky to test out their other riders and play a different role in a GT. It’s refreshing to see a completely open GT too.

  14. I hesitate to mention the other race today, but what the heck is up with Alaphilippe and his celebrating? Is his win rate so high that it’s just a reflex when he crosses the line? I’m curious if the French media, which I have no access to, have asked him about this or taken him to task for it. It’s really bizarre. His look when he realized van der Poel was at his side was priceless.

    • He’s just an instinctive rider, he does things in the moment like that, there’s a side to him not seen on TV where he goes out for a beer late at night on a rest day just because he suddenly feels like, where he’s dancing on top of the dinner table etc. It might cost him results sometimes but this kind of riding makes things more exciting.

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