Giro d’Italia Stage 5 Preview

A trip to the seaside for a sprint finish.

The Big Dombrowski:

“You don’t go in the breakaway because someone told you to, because you have to. Or rather if this is the case it ends up being sterile, it doesn’t reward you with much. But if you put something into it, people take notice. This is what makes my job meaningful: the people who felt joy, or anger, those who noticed you did something. Those who write telling that they dreamed and suffered along with you. Mark my words: I won’t be at the top of the victory rankings, but if many remember me and my breakaways, this is worth more than a millionaire contract.”
– Alessandro De Marchi, in “Vie di Fuga” by Bidon (translated), published by People.

Under a downpour a group of 25 riders forced their way clear on the plains. Groups this size are problematic because some can lurk and soft-pedal, others spot this and soon there’s no cohesion. Only the slippery descent from the Castello di Carpineti intervened before the riders had to start making moves and Bike Exchange’s Chris Juul-Jensen plus Intermarché pair Quinten Hermans and Rein Taaramäe got a gap. They pressed on and, thanks to Hermans’ work, their lead that reached almost two minutes before coming down to a minute by the start of the final climb as several riders chased. Of them Alessandro De Marchi was working the hardest as he knew the maglia rosa was in reach and his face was a picture of grinta on Colle Passerino. Joe Dombrowski was the only rider able to follow De Marchi and normally an elegant rider who mills up long climbs, the American was much more forceful but it worked, he placed a well-timed attack to get in the lead and stay away for his first pro win in Europe. With this two breakaway artists got the rewards they hoped for.

Back down the hill Giulio Ciccone attacked the shrunken GC group. Then Mikel Landa launched and only Aleksandr Vlasov, Hugh Carthy and Egan Bernal could follow. The quintet kept a small 11 second advantage at the finish line but landed a big psychological win as they could ride away from the rest. Still, this was a short climb at the end of a wet day when some can have legs petrified by the cold. If Bernal looked easy and his stock’s rising we know the big question for him is how his back fares the longer the race goes. George Bennett lost a minute and a half and João Almeida who lost four and a half and will be looking for new goals.

The Route: flat and a straight line, a route takes most of the ancient Via Aemilia before crossing the Rubicon and then reaching Rimini where the race twists around the town before a trip down the coast to Cattolica.

The Finish: the mayor gets their money’s worth with a tour around town. There are some narrow roads and sharp corners, the kind where it could pay to be near the front early as it’ll be harder to surge past. It’s still on boulevards and through a beach resort, don’t get images of riding through a medieval town, instead the route is just not as wide as Sunday’s finish in Novara, and the corners are sharper. Once under the triangolo rosso there’s one last right turn and then a 900m finishing straight.

The Contenders: we’ve only got one stage to go on but Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) has the best lead out train and team behind him and this could count but we’ve yet to see them boss the field. Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) doesn’t have such a strong train but there’s experience and he can still hope to surf the wheels to get into place. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Emirates) has good form too and looks to be a real contender again. Elia Viviani (Cofidis) is close but a harder pick. Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) has done his first sprint and with that done should have more confidence but today’s finish is more frantic.

Tim Merlier
Caleb Ewan, Fernando Gaviria, Dylan Groenewegen
Viviani, Sagan, Moschetti, Nizzolo

Weather: a mix of sunshine and clouds, 20°C at most and the chance of a shower, especially towards the end. A light tailwind.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST. It’s live on TV from the start but the weather’s calm and so tune in for the latter part to see the bunch dash through Rimini and the sprint.

62 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 5 Preview”

  1. It was odd to see Bike Exchange’s Chris Juul-Jensen dig so deep — I suspect they may regret this further into the race if Yates needs a strong team

    • Juul-Jensen dig so deep ? Which race have you seen ? with the exception of the last km he has not been in the lead. Sitting in the wheels of Hermans and Tamaraae the whole time and not cooperating. Had Juul-Jensen cooperated, the attack would have gone to the end. Juul-Jensen the stage, Tamaraae the pink yersey. What a cowardly and stupid plow tactic. Yates didn’t do a thing in the background either, and was not able to join Bernal en co at the end. So, I was really relieved Juul-Jensen didn’t win.

      • Seems a different race to you! Juul-Jensen was with 2 Wanty riders to begin with. He had no reason or would have been expected to work. When it was down to 2, he was clearly working once they had a sniff of winning. He obviously ran out of legs at the end. So I guess that means he didn’t dig deep!!! Did you see his face at the end? If ever you have gone for a ride and tried super hard, then you understand the look on his face. As for cowardly, well it takes an understanding of modern race tactics to see the nuances of what happens on the road!

      • Could not disagree more! Juul-Jensen was following two Wanty riders, tactically no point in him working there, they were both working super hard all day and Juul-Jensen wouldn’t have contributed much, if anything. His best bet was always to hang on, take the draft and try and grab the stage at the end. His is a worse climber than Taamamae, generally speaking. Amazed he took any turns at all to be honest, he definitely put a big day in, can’t doubt that!

  2. Difficult to draw too many conclusions from a wet & miserable day early in the race with short steep climbs at the end. DQS were probably the biggest losers of the main contenders, Remco Evenepoel was on his own well before the end and looked pretty miserable. Ineos look ominously strong, though questions remain over Egan Bernal’s fitness. Mikel Landa seems to be in good condition with a strong team behind him, even at this stage the final TT hangs over his efforts. Aleksandr Vlasov might be a good bet for a podium finish.

    Strange stage today with such a long straight route. The initial part of yesterday’s stage from Piacenza to Parma was following the route of the Via Aemilia too ( I have driven on the long straight Autostrada from Bologna to Milan a good few times, it never occurred to me that it is effectively following the route of a roman road). After the surprises of the past couple of days it is difficult to see past a typical no hope break and sprint finish, though the sprinters teams do need to get themselves organised to chase. Caleb Ewan seems a good pick, he often comes back into contention after missing out.

  3. “João Almeida who lost four and a half and will be looking for new goals.”
    His new goals look pretty clear. Helping Evenepoel. Things are simple for DQS now.

    Down the field I was surprised to see Mollema losing nearly 14 minutes. I had him down as a “hard man”. Is he ill, was it tactical..?

    • Been searching for news on a few riders losing time but there’s not much to go on. Mollema at least is going for stage wins but would have been too dangerous in the break yesterday to give much time, so he’s all set now.

        • Not easy, he suffered yesterday but it was the kind of implosion that suggests he’s not 10 watts short of form, rather he was frozen, his tank went empty. So he can bounce back and nobody will want to gift him much time. So perhaps more likely to be in the bunch working for Evenepoel than being allowed much time.

    • Mollema announced before the start of the Giro, that he consciously wanted to lose a lot of time during the first week….. to have a chance to win a stage later on. Not being considered as a contender anymore by the GC-riders.

  4. In wet weather like yesterday’s, we all pull our rain jackets on, because everyone has one, right?
    But consider that only 35-40 years ago, these everyday items did not exist for the layman; you had to wear a Macintosh or carry an umbrella.
    But northern Italy and the Alpine region has always lead the way in fashion and sports design wear.
    The late, great Massimo Osti, of Bologna, was one such garment engineer –

    Garment engineer was an apt phrase, for in true Italian artisan style he designed and hand-crafted a huge archive, drawing largely from alpine and military influences to create new waterproof materials that could be used as fashion items. These found a huge audience in Europe, no more so than in northern England where it’s temperate climate was perfect for Osti’s clothing.
    Indeed, to walk around the towns and cities there in the early 90s was to witness hoardes of young people who looked like they’d just returned from an alpine expedition or were members of an Italian mountain troop.
    Sport never exists in a vacuum, and a cross between fashion and sporting wet-wear clothing developed rapidly around this time. I’ve seen materials and Osti’s thermo-joint techniques in cycling apparel, though yesterday the peloton more resembled a school of wet suit-clad surfers on wheels.
    So, as the riders pass Bologna today, please appreciate its huge cultural influences in modern sport and youth culture – it helped clothe the peloton, a generation of youth as well as develop the Italo-House soundtrack that followed it.

    • Interestingly enough our friends at Pella sent me some details about their claim to have developed a rainjacket material that can be sublimated so the boring black “wetsuit” look might soon be a thing of the past?
      While I stop riding and climb in the car when it rains, I’ve never found any of these wonder fabrics that keep the rain out very effective at venting my sweat out and avoiding a sauna-like situation.

      • I’ve been impressed by Castelli’s Gabba. There are also plenty of others on the market that mirror the fabric used. The main issue is to do with creating a fabric/membrane which allows moisture and hot air through one way, but not the other. The best fabrics do this quite well. The same principle is used for ski/snowboarding jackets. Though as these also need to insulate they are usually stuffed with something which can also create a thermal and hydration break with the inner layer so people don’t get cold and wet.
        The Gabba jacket works mostly by causing the water to bead and so not absorb into the garment.
        Most of the best cycling jackets will fair well for a time, but nothing is going to save you from 3 hours of climbing in the rain with the zip pulled up. But if you have venting to shift the warm wet air around the body it’ll increase the time which you can wear the garment.
        I definitely appreciate my jackets, and don’t suffer as much others I see with cheaper gear. I’m not being snobby, just that the right gear does the right thing. It’s just a false economy getting cheap stuff which doesn’t work and you then have to replace.

    • Lovely post, and so appropriate for this blog. I happily ride several bikes that are 35-40 years old, and I’m just as fast and comfortable on them as I am on my most modern bike (yeah, I’m slow and don’t ride in the mountains). And I have a couple of vintage jerseys that I like to wear in good weather. But bad weather gear from that period – no way! This is arguably one part of cycling/sports technology that has genuinely advanced. While bikes have gotten 5% lighter, 10% stiffer, 20% more compliant, and 10% more aerodynamic every year since the 1980s in some marketing fantasy world, it’s performance clothing that has actually improved year after year, both in looks/style and in functionality.

      • Bikes have gradually got better over the years but it’s largely been a story of slow improvement, clothing has really made a huge difference, there have been leaps, particularly with new fabrics. You can ride in freezing conditions now with about 10 items of clothing… socks, shoes and gloves counting for six of them, when even a decade ago you probably needed 30 and on a hot day clothing can dry so fast. When you see those vintage photos of riders in wool shorts and jerseys riding past snow banks on the Stelvio etc the descents must have been horrific.

  5. I thought it was interesting that Ciccone was caught by the GC group but hung with them and finished second of them. Nibali lost time behind, do you think he is their leader now? Can he be a contender?

    • Not sure he was giving his all when he tried to move off the front. Maybe he was trying to put an idea into the minds of others. As for leader status, it’s early in the 1st week so I can’t see that being confirmed just yet.

    • It’ll be interesting to see he was climbing as fast as Landa, Bernal etc but can he do this regularly, and on longer climbs, that’s the test to come, if he’s got his 2019 Giro legs then one to watch. He’s under a bit of pressure to deliver more wins and become more consistent.

    • Ciccone could become the new leader. Is in great shape. But he is not able to win the Giro. He is a bit to short in the difficult and long climbs.

  6. Hi fellow inrng readers
    I enjoy reading your insights. I’m no cycling expert but enjoy watching what I think is the toughest sport in the world. I wrote on here a 2or 3 years ago. It was in relation to Fantasy Game picking. My main site is a UK/South African run one called Superbru. Its run by a small team but its contests are very well designed and there is good banter. However they had to axe Il Giro for this year to ave money, cycling is a bit niche compared to its Rugby, Football & Cricket contests that attract up to 250k players. Their TdF contest gets about 4.5k players with La Vuelta & Il Giro around 3k.

    Anyway, I was forced to find an alternative Fantasy site. I signed up for a simple pick 9 & pray one, with no changes allowed and a budget of 100 credits. ‘Velogames Italy 2021’. Riders range from 24 (e.g. Yates) down to 6 (e.g. Cepeda or Bevan). So you need to juggle and look for ‘value’ i.e. who is under ‘creditted’. I went for a mix of Jersey chasers (Landa, Sagan), back-ups in case a few favorites get crocked (Almeida) or stage hunters themselves plus pure stage hunters (Ganna, Cavagna, Bilbao, Cepeda, Ewan) and just because I’m a Kiwi, Paddy Bevan, a steal at 6 credits. I avoided the most expensive guys (Bernal, Yates, Evenepoel – 24-22). Almeida & Sagan were my most costly at 16. I’m currently 783 of 20953.

    However my main focus is one I was able to set up a Private League of 25 for, ‘Velon Fantasy’. Here you pick 8 riders, no budget but A & B lists by catagory. Here you can make two changes before each stage. Its much more fun. Perhaps some of you are in these contests?

    So I find this site very helpful for making Velon picks! The trouble is that the previews are in the mornings, I’m a nightowl so usually pick before reading them. I wanted Merlier but I was forced to stick with Ewan, as I used my two transfers thus. I replaced Dekker (he might sit up after helping Groaningwagon) with Moschetti & switching out Evennipples for ‘Semi-fast’ Naesen (8th on Stage 2!). Funnily they are almost equal on the latest PCS list of ‘Best Classics Riders’ , 40 & 41. I’m currently 191st of 8263 globally. Of course the bigger points will come in the Mountains and the points are quite back end loaded so getting a stage Top 10 is key, but a De Gendt style 5 summit KOM breakaway haul can equal a stage win.

    So if you could publish your previews at say 3 am instead it would be most appreciated!

    Best Regards
    Jersey-puller (My Fantasy name too)

    • I forgot to mention, although I’m from NZ I’ve lived in the UK since 1987. 3am UK time would be early afternoon in NZ.


  7. I find it interesting that Bennett suffered so much yesterday. I’ve always considered him painfully thin looking. Probably the thinnest of a very thin bunch. He has nothing spare. It’s probably not a coincidence that he can’t cope with cold weather at all.

    • the whole peloton is amazingly skinny. i don’t think i can point too many former riders who are within a few kgs/lbs of their riding weight. The climber types appear even skinnier. I can’t imagine any of them don’t fear a cold rainy day like yesterday. for comparison’s sake dombrowski shed about a decent amount of weight in his late amateur / early pro days as he chased gc ambitions. I think he has put a few of those lbs back on (though he is just a thin dude) and maybe that helps a bit with the conditions but maybe also with health/strength in general. as an aside, the first big amateur race Joe D won was in 35-40 degree rain/sleet where everyone thought the race was over when he flew out of the demoralized group, crossed a 3 minute gap to a strong 3 rider break and rode straight through to win. all this in about 15 miles. That ‘kid’ we saw that day was what i saw yesterday – an awesome ride. What makes Joe D’s win even better for a local like me was getting the better of a such a highly regarded breakaway rider (and one on a mission) in DeMarchi. Great stuff for us mid-atlantic usa locals.

      • Really happy to see Dombrowski back – he long looked liked he could end up as one more burnout case, as, say, a post-2017 Fabio Aru – only, without the success which Aru had enjoyed in the while. I’d say you’re pretty much spot on.
        I can’t exactly agree only with what you comment about De Marchi: I believe that De Marchi being on a mission actually allowed Dombrowski’s win – *main* mission was the pink jersey, and De Marchi clearly gave away a good deal of his stage winning chances in order to cement his GC leadership shot.

  8. Thanks as ever for the write-up if yesterday. Boy, it was hard work – looked absolute agony at the end there.

    I feel quite sad and conflicted about De Marchi’s win. I’ve always been rooting for him in years gone by in the scores of breaks he’s been in, but I got little pleasure seeing him get pink yesterday given the humanitarian atrocities his sponsors are committing as he leads the race. Am I the only one?

    • You’re not the only one, but where does the line get drawn here? Joe Dombrowski wins for UAE, far from the top of my humanitarian good-guys list while Ganna rides for INEOS, the fracking guy. Then there’s Bahrain, Nibali’s old squad and Astana, the one before that. Lots of “sportwashing” going on here, just like F1, MOTOGP, FIFA football, you-name-it.
      For us, it’s “love the guy, hate the sponsor” even if it’s Nibali and the Big-T, a bike company I hate. I won’t buy anything these f__kers sell or promote but I WILL buy stuff marketed by the Giro’s sponsors. A case of souvenir bottles of ASTORIA bubbly just arrived today, I’ll pick up some NOVI chocolate tomorrow and I’ve got my grocery guy trying to find some RANA ravioli. W Il Giro!

    • I wonder what he thinks of it. He’s quite socially conscious and campaigns on things, eg he’s sporting a blue and yellow bracelet in the Giro in support of Giulio Regeni (an Italian who was murdered in Egypt, you can look up the story).

    • At least, De Marchi has a decent history of personal commitment in favour of civil rights and yesterday spent a fair amount of his limelight time to draw attention upon the Regeni case – the yellow bracelet he had been wearing was no Lancestrong stuff. In fact, I was rather surprised when he signed for ISN, but I guess it’s a bit of what Larry says.

    • I can understand someone like De Marchi, who perhaps needs the extra money that ISN can offer in what is a relatively short career, but Froome didn’t need to promote Israel in order to add to his many millions. Same goes for Nibali and Bahrain (and, indeed, Astana).
      As much as I’m not a fan of Ineos (the company), they’re nowhere near as bad as the regimes of Bahrain, Israel, Kazakhstan and UAE. Ratcliffe is a tax dodger and a polluter, but as far as I’m aware he’s not killing, torturing and oppressing people.

    • No life threatening injury, but he more or less broke everything which sits between chin and belly: collar bone, shoulder plate, several ribs… No backbone, either, and luckily enough, but he probably also suffered a pneumothorax. Huge price to pay, and it was totally down to pure bad luck: he was being well shielded by his teammates, in the front part of his side of the bunch, and he was just hit from behind by the swerving – or, better said, “flying” – Joe Dombrowski (not his fault, either). No way to avoid the accident. Ouch.

  9. I don’t know if there’s a team with enough sway to do this, but the practice that started last decade of teams sending their GC guys their own leadout trains to hit the 3km sign needs to end. That’s something that requires a gentleman’s agreement, though, but I think it was around the 2013 TDF where you really started to see the GC teams practically battling the sprint trains to keep their guys at the front.

    • Hear hear. Sky started it, and it’s a reasonable idea in order to protect your GC hopeful(s), but it does lead to too many people piling up to the front. Today, though, it looked like Dombrowski just made a mistake.

      • As it could be seen only in a video recording later released by RAI, it wasn’t Dombrowski’s fault, either – rather, one of Dombrowski’s teammates (still unspecified), who was the pilot fish for the USA rider, decided at the very last minute to switch sides and moved suddenly from left to right in order to keep the obstacle on his left, looking for the less crowded side of the road. Which meant that Dombrowski got practically launched on the signal man.

        Note that it’s not like the UAE gregario couldn’t see the obstacle, either. And the road was also very, very wide.

        As you say, it was human mistake, and I believe that little could be made to avoid it. Perhaps something to make the obstacle visible from further out, so that Dombrowski might see that from far… a huge “perhaps”! I think he’d blindly follow his lead man anyway; and that’s indeed the safest strategy – most of the times.

        • UAE needs to get its house together, first Gaviria’s lead out man shuts his door on him (the same guy almost disrupted the final sprint today) and now this.

          • The usual well-informed Twitter accounts posted an albeit low-re clip, I think. Have a look at laflammerouge16 (always *very* useful: they’re Italian, but offer English live update for most races and the profile – made with their own tool – of virtually every UCI sanctioned race around the world).

          • Thanks, Gabriele.
            I still think it was Dombrowski’s mistake because he chose to follow the other guy too late and rode into the sign/pennant man.

          • Naaaah, no way, it wasn’t too late, it’s that they were riding at 60 km/h. As a Dombrowski sort of rider, you just follow your pilot’s wheel and pray. Besides, when you see from outside something happening at that speed, apparent distances must be adjusted to physical reaction time and so – in that sense, the video’s (extreme) slow-mo can be tricky.

    • Yeah I agree. The hurly burly of the build up to a sprint is probably the most consistently dangerous part of cycling. I don’t see how getting involved in that when you don’t need to helps ‘keep out of trouble’. It actively invites it.

      • Sprint finishes are one thing – 200 guys slaloming through a town and its road furniture is another. If they have to have these, perhaps they can take times at the entrance to the circuit or start of where it gets sketchy? Of course the rider’s rep should have checked out this kind of stuff in advance and either rerouted or mitigated a lot of it somehow, but if they took the times where it was still rather safe, then let the sprinters and their teams have at it (with perhaps some bonus seconds?) for the stage win, the GC boys could ride around in relative safety. 3 kms from the finish line isn’t enough when it’s a slalom through these kinds of obstacles to the finish line.

        • Generally speaking I agree with you, but in this case the more serious accidents happened where road conditions were pretty much good. Riders are complaining in order to do their lobbying against other rules (note that I’m on their side both about the need of more road safety *and* I also consider nonsense to prohibit some of the riding positions which have been forbidden – yet, today’s course wasn’t that crazy, and the accidents had nothing to do with road safety; I was more worried about lack of proper marking of the roadside in some segments where the public was getting in the way, but eventually they neutralised the race there and no serious risk was taken).

          • As you know I generally agree with you but in this case I think you ignore all the traffic furniture they had to slalom around in Cattolica. Sivakov crashed because he wasn’t paying attention but later I commented to the wife about how many of the traffic islands with road signs sticking up out of them had nothing in the way of padding or guys waving flags, though of course that didn’t help Dombrowski, since he crashed in a spot with both.
            I don’t think organizers could provide enough padding or volunteers willing to risk what happened to the poor guy center-punched by Dombrowski to make these kinds of circuits safe for 200 rider pelotons winding up for a sprint finish, hence my idea of sort-of neutralizing ’em a bit so only the sprinters and their teams are full-gas with a stage win at play. Seems like it’s either that or bulldoze all the road furniture out of the way for the day if they insist on these city slaloms. What else could be done?

        • As someone suggested on (I think) this website, a fluorescent marker sticking up a few metres from the obstacle like those things you get at car dealerships, for example.

      • They get involved because they want to *stay on the front*, given that crashes happen anyway due to the sprinters fighting for position – and the further back you are, the more probable it becomes you get caught behind a split because of a crash. They prefer to face a higher single chance to get directly involved in a crash (which is a low probability, generally speaking) rather than assuming the global sum of probabilities of any crash happening on the bunch ahead of you, and getting trapped behind. In 3 km you couldn’t get back to the front even with your team chasing full gas, the sprint trains are already hitting top speed. That’s more or less why.

  10. Thank you Inrng for the great write-ups and for hosting this platform. I truly enjoy reading not only the articles, but also the many intelligent/insightful comments. This is a good place!

    Anyhow, I feel so sorry for Landa. He often has bad luck when he is in shape.

Comments are closed.