2015 Giro d’Italia – Stage 5 Preview
What happened on Stage 4
Davide Formolo took a memorable victory in La Spezia, after a thrilling day which saw the peloton being shattered to pieces by Astana, the strongest team in the race. It was a stage of attacks and counterattacks, a chaotic and crazy one, at the end of which the 22-year-old Formolo won his first race since turning professional and by doing this, he underlined his huge talent. Also on Tuesday, Simon Clarke became the 8th Australian rider to wear the pink jersey, while Rigoberto Uran and Jurgen Van Den Broeck came home 42 seconds behind Fabio Aru, Alberto Contador and Richie Porte.
What comes now
Stage 5 takes place almost entirely in Tuscany and is dedicated to the great Gino Bartali, who was first on the Abetone twice, in 1947 and 1948, although back then the stages didn’t finish on the climb, like it will be the case now. The stage which starts from La Spezia is quite short – 152 kilometers – and features just two obstacles, whose gradients are not too steep. The first part of the route is basically flat; past Aulla, the road starts to climb up to Foce Carpinelli (10 kilometers, 5% average gradient), then runs down to hit the short Barga climb and reaches the foot of the final ascent (17,3 kilometers with a 5,4% gradient).
The Abetone climb starts in La Lima. Gradients only slightly exceed 2% over the first 4,5 kilometers. The following 8 kilometers are steeper, with gradients around 7%, with the maximum gradient (14%) coming with around 7 kilometers left of the ascent. The route then levels out slightly – 5% – up to the finish, on wide and well-surfaced roads. The uphill home straight, with a gradient of 5%, is 100-m long (on 5,5-m wide asphalt road).
Fabio Aru has the strongest team in the race and will be keen on showing that he left all his health issues behind and that he’s a big contender not only for the podium, but also for the overall win. Besides the stage victory on this mythical climb of the race, Aru will have another stake: take as much seconds as possible to his opponents before the individual time trial that comes at the end of the second week, where everybody expects him to bleed minutes.
Alberto Contador doesn’t want the pink jersey, but he wants to prove to his rivals that he is in an excellent shape and Abetone should provide him with an excellent opportunity to fire the first “bullet” at this year’s edition. Of course, Richie Porte will also be there and can attack on the last part of the climb to score the win, but an even more interesting rider than the Aussie is Rigoberto Uran, who has to take back time to these three in order to keep his pink jersey ambitions alive.
Other cyclists to watch out for on Wednesday are Jurgen Van Den Broeck, Damiano Caruso, Esteban Chaves (the Colombian cyclist of Orica-GreenEdge, who can become the new leader of the Corsa Rosa), Stefano Pirazzi and Damiano Cunego, who doesn’t pose any threat in the general classification.
Introduced on the route in 1928 (when Domenico Piemontesi was the first rider to cross it), Abetone was a stage finish three times in the Giro d’Italia – 1956, 1959 and 2000 – the most memorable being the one from 56 years ago. In 1959, Abetone came at the end of stage three and Charly Gaul, nicknamed the “Angel of the Mountains”, a rider who used a high cadence on the ascents and is widely considered as one of the best climbers of all time, attacked and distanced all his rivals, the victory giving him the pink jersey, which he eventually won in Milan, 6 minutes and 21 seconds ahead of Jacques Anquetil.