By Gregor Brown published
The question gets asked every year: are the Giro d'Italia sprint finishes more dangerous than other races? After the Benevento stage five finish today, Italian Sacha Modolo said that it is just that some riders are "more stupid" than others.
German André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) shot ahead of Arnaud Démare (FDJ) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) to win by three bike lengths in Italy's south. In the final corner, before the road kicked up, Rein Taaramäe (Katusha) sped ahead and slid to the ground among the top sprinters and their lead-out men.
"It's not that the sprints are more dangerous than others, but that there are people who are a little bit more stupid," team Lampre-Merida's Modolo told Cycling Weekly. "That guy who crashed, I don't know where he was hoping to go at that speed in that curve. Unfortunately, I had my team work for nothing.
"It's enough to just be attentive. They say I'm dangerous at times, but I've never caused crashes nor caused them. It's ironic. The Giro is more technical, but all you need to do is be attentive and understand your limits."
Modolo and other sprinters were able to swerve around Taaramäe, but it caused enough disruption to end their chances for the day. Greipel and Démare were well placed, and Greipel showed to clearly have the speed. Winner of stages two and three, Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) had already lost contact by that point. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) arrived to the finish and kept his pink jersey.
"I think every race... ah...," Greipel said trying to answer to the question if the Giro stages were more dangerous. "Road-wise I cannot say 'narrow' but they are..."
Dumoulin, sitting to Greipel's right in the press conference, interrupted and said, "Don't try to be too politically correct, they are chaotic." Greipel continued, "They are kind of tricky and sketchy, but it's something we have to deal with."
Dutchman Moreno Hofland had his LottoNL-Jumbo team work for him and he placed fifth. He called the stage a "typical" Giro sprint stage.
"It was very hectic," Hofland added. "There are a lot of guys in the front. The GC men are up front because they don't want to be gapped off. That's hectic.
“Zakarin [Ilnur Zakarin racing for the classification and Taaramäe’s team-mate] is in the front and he's really dangerous.
"I've never done the Tour de France, but if you look at other races... Paris-Nice has its sprint stages often on down a straight finish."
Tomorrow, the sprinters will not need to worry about crashing in the final kilometres as the sixth stage finishes with an 18.85-kilometre climb to Roccaraso.
Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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