Well, how about that? The Cycling Mole didn't think it would come down to a bunch sprint and it did! In his defence the rider both of our magazine editors chose, Fernando Gaviria, was eliminated on the climb, so he didn't completely miss the target with his assessment.
Bang on the bullseye, however, was recent signing Olivia Kaferly. Looks like if anyone is going to make Mr. Mole up his game, it's her. It might have been only by the smallest of margins - and make no mistake, Peter Sagan is getting closer to that elusive first win in 400+ days - but Arnaud Démare's 10th win of the season was the result of meticulous planning, not luck. The French champion has the most strictly marshalled lead-out in the World Tour at present - with our own Jacopo Guarnieri at the head of affairs - and is the rider to beat on the flat.
Which today's stage most assuredly isn't. It'll be the back of the autobus for Démare and his pals, as the Giro hits the mainland to take on more than 4000 metres of climbing. From Italy's toe to the ball of the foot. Who's going to put the boot in?
Stage 5 - Mileto to Camigliatello Silano Ian
Tao Geoghegan-Hart - Ineos Grenadiers
If there's one thing you can predict about the Giro, it's totally unpredictable, isn't it? Seeing Ineos change tack after Egan Bernal's capitulation at the Tour was fun to watch - their talented team let off the leash of support roles to fight for stage wins. With Geraint Thomas out of the equation, maybe Tao goes up the road and stays there? Shoot me now, Moley.
Jacob Fuglsang - Astana
Though this stage could be another one for a strong breakaway group like on Etna, I’m kinda thinking Fuglsang and Nibali won’t be able to resist trading a few body blows. Combine that with the spicy accelerations that Kruijswijk, Kelderman and maybe even Pozzovivo will try, this could turn into a GC day. With no Ineos mountain train to control things, it hopefully will get wild. Nibali looks good but I’m thinking Fuglsang maybe just a bit sharper, and does have nearly 20 seconds to make up. He descends as well as anyone, so should be able to keep an advantage over the top. Or so my theory goes.
Larry Warbasse - AG2R
There are a bunch of (not so young anymore but certainly talented) Americans, who all seem to be due a big win. Of them, the most likely to get one is our boy Larry, who already has a Tour de Suisse stage on his palmarès. Time for that first Grand Tour score. You never know, we might get a new blog post out of it from him.
The Cycling Mole says
Yesterday we saw Bora try, but fail to drop Démare. That means Olivia is on fire, justifying her big money transfer into the team. It looks like Andy is going to be on the bench for a while.
Stage 5 is weird all over. We have 225km of racing, how very retro, and it also has almost 5000m of climbing. There is one big climb, 24km at 5.7%, but it goes downhill to the finishing line. We’ve all watched enough grand tours to know that usually puts off the GC teams from controlling, which means the break has a very good chance of success. Ian is going with Tao, but as he’s just over 3 minutes down on GC he won’t be getting any freedom. Bad pick Ian, go sit on the naughty step. Nick is also on the break with Larry “Hollywood” Warbasse. Not only does Nick hopes he wins, but he also wants Hollywood to write another blog post. I’ll make you a deal, I’ll write a blog post if he doesn’t win (he’s got no chance). The on-form Olivia is going with Fuglsang. If we get a GC day, you know that the Dane will be up there challenging. I’ve learned very quickly that Olivia knows her onions.
Me? I’ll go with the break, and Valerio Conti. After a spell in the pink jersey last year, the wee man will be back for some more success.