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Giro Stage 05 Preview: Novara - Novi Ligure

Stage 05 :: Thursday May 13, 2010
168km :: Novara - Novi Ligure

Team Fun Time is behind us now (new proposed name for a team time trial... I smell another letter to Angie), and it's on with the business of moving from one town to the other in order to give the sprinters and breakaway artists a reason for getting their passports stamped.  We'll be heading directly south most of the day with a couple of uninteresting climbs but some fantastic city names.

Tortona, where we have the traguardo volante (Say that outloud... it's fun!) for this stage, always reminds me of Tortoni, a hazelnut ice cream treat they serve at the Italian Restaurant down the street from me.  And the rifornimento (not quite as fun to say) in Rocca Grue which always reminds me of the following phrase...

"It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue."

Let's move S then S then W then "open door" and see what's on the flip...

I suspect Gav is busy... today's surf report:

While we won’t have a ton of swell in the water, the combo of cleaner conditions and semi-decent morning tides will at least help most breaks to stay rideable, while the standout breaks do a little bit better. I would probably stick to the smaller wave gear, particularly at breaks that aren’t that well exposed to either of the swells. Best call will probably be the beach breaks throughout SD and OC…but only marginally better since there should be plenty of small but rideable waves throughout Socal.

Now, back to the bike race. Though two short climbs pop up around midway throught this stage, it's almost certainly a day for the sprinters. We're still in Fausto Coppi country here, and the Giro comes to Novi Ligure on the 50th anniversary of his death from malaria, which is a bit morbid, really. The second climb of the day is near Castallania and bears the name Passo Coppi. At 1.6 kilometers, it's more molehill than mountain.

Watch for an early doomed break to go up the road, while Liquigas rides tempo in defense of Nibs the new race leader. HTC-Columbia, Rabobank, and Quick-Step should eventually take an interest in the proceedings and add to the chase with an eye toward the final sprint. There's a few corners in the run-in, which is the norm for these small-town finishes. Will Greipel let Goss sprint? Or, can Tyler Farrar make it two? We'll see tomorrow.

Rincon del Frinco:

After the thousand of fanmails I got after my last youtube performance back to basic business.. Vino destroyed his team. Liqui was solid. Garmin nowhere to be seen and Sky.. Well.. Skying the limit.. Nibali it is.. Who would have thought that.. The curse of he jersey say there is another leader tomorrow after this stage.. Which brings on to the stage.. Italian flat.. Nothing to worry. Even Brown could defend his jersey here.. Only that pesky WW is on his back.. That said.. Brown is going to bowl tomorrow.. Bringing everyone down in his way.. A Strike it is.. With Greipel as winner.. Who grabs the jersey.. And that is the way it's going to be.. Altho everybody is going to root for the man with so few testosterone.. That his balls much be Inie tiny.. 

Chris' Copy:

Action: Kind of a meh-fest. This is probably a good time to piont out that Daniele Bennatiand Alessandro Petacchi are back in action. It's fun to root for the Greipel/Farrar showdown in Holland, but back in bella Italia the homeboys will be in charge.

Pageantry: Every Giro features one stage that's more or less an excuse to dwell on Fausto Coppi, whose racing and marital exploits have transfixed the nation for half a century. A few grainy racing videos should take up about 30 seconds of RAI coverage, followed by regular checkins with the satellite truck parked in Novi Ligure outside the Villa Carla, home of Fausto and Giulia Occhini, the "White Lady." Will Fausto's former neighbors' descendants make amends to the church for Coppi's infidelity? Will Giulia's grandchildren successfully discredit Bruna Coppi and defend Giulia's moral character? Is the scientific panel at the University of Novi Ligure ready to announce the results of its re-inquiry into the cause of the Campionissimo's mysterious death? This could be Italian television at its finest.

The Plan: Another one for the trainer, though with recording devices on standby.

Ok, here we go. The stage for today.  Two climbs: Avolasca rising 181m over 3.3km  yet somehow maxing out at 11% and the prettily named Passo Coppi bivio Castellania which rises 96m over 1.6km with a max of 10%.  My  suspicion is that they are adding the 15cm curb on the side of the road into their gradient calculations.