It was almost a perfect 1, 2, 3 for Spokenforks yesterday atop Mount Etna, but the gutsy effort of Jan Polanc meant he just crept over the line ahead of our tipped winner Ilnur Zakarin, chased home by Geraint Thomas and Thibaut Pinot. Stage 5 looks to be a return to the hands of the sprinters at this year’s Giro d’Italia, a relatively short 159km from Pedara to Messina, the finale being in the hometown of previous race winner Vincenzo Nibali. There is a single Category 4 climb to be captured en route to the finish, as the general nature of the race profile is that of a steady descent, which eventually levels out to provide the fastest riders with a 1500m long finishing straight to crown the day’s winner.
André Greipel is enjoying some brilliant form right now and has proven to be able to cope with the fierce winds which have struck the race on both Sicily and Sardinia. The German rider will relish this power based finish, one which does not require any stressing as to negotiating late turns or tricky road furniture. His leadout train is not of the quality which we are used to seeing at Le Tour de France, but Lotto-Soudal appear to be overcoming this factor the further the race progresses.
Caleb Ewan has been unfortunate to have not picked up a stage victory thus far, the young Australian mostly likely the fastest rider present, has been unable to place himself in a position from which to win from. This drag race to the line is ideal for him to unleash his incredibly rapid sprint finish, allowing his leadout team to focus on getting him up to top speed, rather than seeking to ensure his positioning is perfect.
Fernando Gaviria was victorious on Stage 3, though today’s shorter and more simplistic finish could make it difficult for him to better the likes of Caleb Ewan and André Greipel. Gaviria looks to be improving as the stages pass by, acclimatising to the intensity of grand tour racing and finding his groove in the hectic sprint finishes once again. His greatest strength is how rapidly he can accelerate to top speed, making it likely he will try to stay hidden on the wheel of his rivals, before bursting to the fore with the line approaching rapidly.
Giacomo Nizzolo is another rider who is finding his form at this year’s Giro d’Italia day by day, though he will have to muster something resembling his best in order to challenge for the win on Stage 5. The Italian road race champion possesses a strong team to support him in the final kilometres, but he could do with a few technical challenges to take advantage of his more powerful rivals.
Other names likely to feature in the top ten after Stage 5 are Sacha Modolo, Phil Bahaus, Sam Bennett and Kristian Sbaragli.
1st Fernando Gaviria 2nd Caleb Ewan 3rd André Greipel