200 km to go. Hills, bends, narrow roads and pain. Not a good morning for riders.
It’s quite usual to have warm days in May in Italy. The summer gives a kick of what will be and the nature explodes. The morning is warm and nice, it will be a fantastic day to chase the race. Today’s stage starts from Urbino and finishes in Porto Sant Elpidio. All the stage runs in the Marche region. A hilly area with roads of all kinds where it’s pretty usual to miss the sense of orientation. I know quite well the area and this is a big advantage. Left home I drive towards Urbino, however I decided to skip the start and to see a couple of passages instead of one only. Yesterday in Fano was very exciting to be on the finish line but my place is on the road. The interesting thing today is to see if Navardauskas will be able to maintain the rosa jersey. It’s not an easy stage.
The centre of Fossombrone town. In Marche region all towns are same but… not bad.
The countryside on the first climb.
At noon time I come to the first climb of the day. The road to Fratte Rosa is usually lonely but today there are some locals enjoying the passage. Also few amateurs, English language, enjoying a good ride anticipating the Giro. This climb is short but steep and it’s located just 30 km from the start, so, I think it’s a very good place to watch the early break and some movements inside the bunch. When the race comes it’s ten to twelve and the sun is strong.
The bunch comes and battle has already started.
Cavendish already in trouble in the last position of the bunch. Will be an hard day my friend!
There are fifteen riders trying to get out but the bunch is reacting, so the speed is very high and already few sprinters are in trouble. Hushovd and Cavendish are already half minute late. Not a good news for yesterday’s winner, and I think it must be very hard to know there are 170km of trouble ahead of the wheel, alone pursuing the bunch.
People waiting the race on the ancient walls of their town.
The Giro passes from Montelupone but not on the famous road steeping over 25%.
To move to my second spot I have to reach again the sea and take the highway. Once in the highway, after few kilometers, I see a red car in front of me. Austrian license. Yeah, it’s Jered and Ashley! I move beside them, I show them that’s me and I drive ahead to open the road. The first thing I think it’s they’re late. But then I remember they have bikes and I think they will manage, as usual, to get on the spot they want. So, once in the area around the city of Macerata I bid them goodbye and I turn towards the last part of the race. As last spot I’ve chosen on the map an anonymous climb, with no points on the top. I did it because I know, that even with no points that climb is hard and nasty, with a very straight steep section which cut the breath. I believe that to really enjoy a race you don’t need big mountains but a quiet place to stay, without the big crowd, and sometimes a hill can be worse than a big mountain in terms of attacks and selection.
Is it a restaurant or a church? Great place!
Before stop for the race I decide to have a lunch. The Marche region is famous in Italy for the good food. However, fish on the sea and meat on the hills: do not mess up doing vice versa! All restaurants seem closed today, being out of the season and out of the week end. I find a nice village close to Montelupone; all this area the villages are on top of hills and surrounded by ancient walls. This one is very nice, but the restaurant is terrific. It’s located in a very old palace and I feel quite strange to eat in a so beautiful building. Seems to eat inside a church! The food is nice but anything special (the good it’s concentrated in the location) and after eating I move back on the road I’ve chosen.
I love these hills especially in May.
The break comes and they are going not too fast. They are studying their chance before the final moves.
The helicopter takes the best action from the height.
The main bunch follows after 5 minutes, look how steep is this road.
The race is near. The target is to get a nice picture of the break and some close ups of the riders in the bunch. The top of the hill is already full of local people; Scarponi was born in this area and there are several supporters waiting for him. The break comes and they are in eight. All of them seem quite tired. The main group comes about five minutes later. The Liquigas guys are setting tempo and it doesn’t seem to be a hard pace. However the first big surprise is to come: the rosa jersey Navardauskas has lost the wheels from the group! He is alone and no teammate is surrounding him. This tells to me they do not believe in his chances to recover.
Ahi ahi, the rosa jersey in total trouble at 50 to go.
Matt Goss keep it quite trying save the legs for the next days.
One of the sprinters in trouble is Matthew Goss; I clearly see his red jersey, but also Bennati is out of the bunch. Minutes passes and small groups of riders come slowly. This stage is one of that kind you do not appreciate enough from the screen. The leaders are all together but behind them the battle to survive is bloody. Riders behind are exhausted and at their limit. They know they risk to come out of the race for the time limit.
Even the police waits for Cav.
Here comes Guardini, a young Italian sprinter who will grow up well.
So, when comes the young Italian Guardini (a sprinter who seems to be very interesting for the future) I understand will be hard for him to reach Porto Sant Elpido save in race. My clock says already more than 20 minutes have passed and still someone have to come. Who? Rainbow jersey! Mark is in big delay and when come what surprises me more is the fact he has left together with a teammate only and this guy is even more in trouble than him. I believe he’s already given everything to reduce Mark gap from the bunch. This is really a surprise because Cavendish is the great star of this Giro and it would be a big loss to have him out at sixth stage. But this is cycling, the judge is the road.
Finally the big hero of the Giro. Mark Cavendish in total trouble and look at the team mate behind. What a stage!
Great day. I’m once again coming back to PEZ’s Italian Office (my house), where I will send this words I’m typing now. I came to know a Colombian has won the stage and a young Italian guy has got the rosa jersey. Hesjedal sits in third place and seems to be the most well positioned for tomorrow to wear the rosa after the first finish climb. Tomorrow morning I will head again for the Giro and I will do my best to enjoy another great day of cycling inside my favorite race. The Giro will say goodbye to the Marche region and to me also. The Abruzzo region is waiting for the great Italian race and tomorrow I’m sure there will be a lot of people on the slopes to Rocca di Cambio. Let’s see if I will handle to meet once again Jered and Ashley.
Thanks for reading,