1. Battaglin learns from stage four mistakes
24 hours ago Enrico Battaglin put in a huge effort to drag the peloton back across a late split before launching his effort for the line, but went way too early and was overhauled by Tim Wellens and Michael Woods.
Today the Italian puncheur was making no such mistake, biding his time as Giovanni Visconti went early before accelerating across to his compatriot and taking what turned out to be a handsome victory.
The victory – Battaglin’s first since joining LottoNL-Jumbo in 2016 – is good news in itself for the team, but could also have wider implications, particularly for GC contender George Bennett.
After impressing early in the season, the New Zealander has kept his powder dry in the opening stages of the Giro, and this victory should relieve pressure on the team bus and allow Bennett to race with freedom in the mountains.
2. A tale of two crashes for some GC contenders
Pozzovivo was the biggest name to be brought down in a large crash with around 15km to go, but looked in fine fettle as he did much of the chasing back on himself before being joined by a team-mate to not only make the junction but then get his breath back to take ninth on the stage.
Unfortunately for Lopez, he was not able to stage quite the same recovery as he crashed in bizarre circumstances with six kilometres to go, seemingly riding straight off the road into long grass with no one else around him.
There was also no team-mates around him as he started the chase alone, but even after he was joined by a few more Astana riders he was unable to regain contact with the front group and ended up losing 43 seconds, now finding himself nearly two minutes back on the general classification.
3. Teams share the workload
After being finding themselves doing the vast majority of the chasing on stage four, BMC Racing were allowed a bit of respite on today’s stage as a number of other teams lent a hand to keep the breakaway within reach.
After his victory into Caltagirone yesterday, Tim Wellens was clearly confident as Lotto-Fix All did a large amount of work, while Team Sunweb, Groupama-FDJ, Mitchelton-Scott and UAE Team Emirates all spent time on the front of the peloton,
BMC will certainly be grateful for having a relatively early day ahead of the inevitable pressure that they will be put under on Mount Etna tomorrow and, if Dennis can maintain his lead, ahead of the two tough mountain stages in the Apennines at the weekend.
4. Slow day in the saddle
On paper this looked like a classic Giro stage – rolling roads, spectacular scenery, the odd technical descent, and a punchy uphill finish.
Unfortunately it proved to be nothing but a classic first-week-of-the-Giro stage where it’s hard not to feel sorry for the television commentators as they try and fill four hours of start-to-finish coverage.
What’s more the peloton clearly hadn’t read the road book with the expected average speeds as they finished behind the slowest time schedule for the second day in a row. All the more reason to look forward to tomorrow.
5. Roll on Etna
After three, let’s be honest, rather dull stages in Israel and two slightly more interesting rolling stages in Sicily, the Giro d’Italia should really get going with tomorrow’s summit finish to Mount Etna.
The race will tackle a slightly different route to stage four of last year’s race, with the finish in the same location but with the riders approaching it from the west rather than the east.
This ascent has a similarly gradual gradient as the climb used last year (albeit with a rude 500m at 14 per cent midway up), but will also avoid the big head-wind which thwarted the attacks 12 months ago.
The forecast is for light winds to create a cross/tailwind for the final five kilometres, which should hopefully encourage some aggressive racing on the first summit finish of the race.