Stage 5: Praia a Mare -- Benevento , 233km
The Tour of Italy returns to Italy... and starts acting very Italian.
What's It About?
Gotta get north in a hurry. We keep moving through the heartland of Italian history. You virtually can't throw a bidon in any direction without hitting some remains from antiquity. We've left the coast and gone inland through Campania. Had we stuck to the coastline we might have come by the Amalfi coast, Vesuvio and Naples, all common places on the Giro map but not this time. Instead we're heading to Benevento, a town so great it was ruled by the Pope for a good long while until a short period when the even shorter Napoleon had other ideas. If I ever have three or four years to spare I might try and get a grip on the messy politics of the fragmented Italian peninsula before Garibaldi and the unification. It sure seems different from the well oiled and organized political machinery of modern Italy.
As impossible as it was to find a molehill to climb in Gelderland it is even more impossible to find a flat road in this part of Italy.
As you can see there won't be much rest for the peloton today either.
An uphill start usually makes for quality caliber riders in the breakaway and that means any teams hoping to hold this together will have their work cut out for them. No serious (I mean really serious) climbing of course but enough to make this a complicated chase. The problems start for the breakaway with an easier final 40 kms of the long 233 km stage. The day finishes with a lap in the old city center of Benevento, a technical one with the final kilometer on a slight uphill cobbled street. Not a climb by any means but a sprint that will require active positioning on the final lap as well as impeccable timing if the group at the finish is large.
Riders to Watch
At this point we have enough riders who have lost enough time, by design or otherwise, to be able to be allowed in the breakaway. So on a stage like this there will most likely be some very motivated and strong riders. Guys like Fraile, Cunego and De Marchi aren't far behind because they can't keep up, they are waiting for their opportunity. Now this stage may not be to everyone's liking. There are few KOM points on offer to start with and the finish may be to beneficial for the peloton for some to consider it seriously. But as always there are enough Italian teams here to stack any breakaway. The stage may not be as ideally set up for an action-finale as stage 4 but there certainly are opportunities for late attackers here too.
Should the peloton come together to Benevento it's going to open up interesting possibilities. Had Peter Sagan been here we wouldn't even need to look for alternatives but there is no Sagan here. Instead other power guys like Démare, Trentin or perhaps even Ulissi and Valverde.
AmyBC's Food and Wine Pairings
Today's culinary suggestions from the region from AmyBC. You can check out her blog at Winebookgirl.
Wine: Contrade di Taurasi Cantine Lonardo 'Grecomusc'2013
Another unusual grape: Rovello. Crisp, but also fruity. I'll get more of this one.
Food: Foccacia. Recipe this time from the wonderful Hot Bread Kitchen book, this time topped with asparagus and rapini flowers because how could I resist rapini flowers?
Pick to Win:
Matteo Trentin. Because Etixx are greedy bastards. It would be just like them to throw up Trentin in case Kittel can't make it.