Mark Cavendish eyes second Giro d’Italia stage win before race heads to mainland

Mark Cavendish-GETTY IMAGES

08:00 AM

What’s on today’s menu?

There’s a large climb in the middle of the stage, but do not let that make you think this is one for the climbers. Peaking 100km from the finishing line, there will be plenty of time for any stragglers to reconvene with the leading group and contest what is expected to be the second bunch gallop of this year’s Giro d’Italia. In theory.

Of course, if a decent sized breakaway group forms then the stage may not play out like this, but there are enough teams keen on the day ending in a sprint meaning there should be some collaboration in the bunch. The obvious caveat to that being: does anybody really want to go head-to-head with an in-form Mark Cavendish and his well-drilled Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl lead-out team?

After winning stage three on Sunday, Cavendish is the favorite for the win today but will certainly not be receiving any gifts from the peloton once the stage rolls into Messina. caleb ewan (Lotto-Soudal) will be hoping for a better result than his eighth-placed finish on Sunday, as will Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) who won a similar looking stage in Sicily in 2020 en route to the Frenchman winning the maglia ciclamino. All of the other sprint specialists – Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel Premier Tech), Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious) – will be hoping to get in the mix, while we should not discount Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), who will be defending his points jersey, and Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux).

So, what does the stage look like?

stage five

stage five

Here’s what the roadbook says about the stage…

Stage five is a short stage, with an uncomplicated climb, mid-course, up Portella Mandrazzi. From Catania, to just outside Taormina, the roads are fairly wide and mostly flat, but twist and wind, with only a few straight stretches.

After leaving the coastline, the route takes in the long Portella Mandrazzi climb (avg. gradient: 4%), followed by a lengthy descent that will lead the peloton to the northern coast of the island. Over the final 70km, the stage follows the shoreline. The roads here are wide, flat and straight, with a few urban areas along the route.

With nearly 4km to go, the course leaves the trunk road and kicks up into urban Messina. The route continues along broad city avenues, initially downhill, then up again until the 1,500m marker, where it takes a short descent. There is one final bend at 800m before the finish line.

08:00 AM

Catch up: Highlights from Tuesday’s stage

There may not have been the big general classification battle many had hoped for, but the stage to Mount Etna did not disappoint when it came to entertainment and intrigue. Miguel Ángel López (Astana Qazaqstan) was forced to abandon early in the stage, Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) was caught up in a minor crash resulting in the Briton needing assistance from the race doctor. Breakaway rider Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) went all the way to the line to land the stage and Ineos Grenadiers turned back the clock and rode as if they were Team Sky leading to some suggestions that they may have scored a bit of an own- goal by burning one too many matches in the finale. Anyway, here are the highlights from the stage. . .

08:00 AM

Bye!

Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage five at the Giro d’Italia, the 174-kilometre run from Catania to Messina.

Following yesterday’s summit finish on Mount Etna, the focus today switches to the fastmen with a stage that is expected to conclude in a sprint finish, but before we have a look at the course let’s have a quick recap of the early standings in the top classifications – the competitions where jerseys are awarded to the leaders.

Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo), the Spaniard who finished Tuesday’s stage second behind Lennard Kaemna (Bora-Hansgrohe), will wear the maglia rosa, or leader’s pink jersey, for the first time in his career. The Spaniard who leads the second biggest stage race in world cycling has no professional wins on his palmarès, but now holds two leader’s jerseys. Little wonder he was a little emotional on Tuesday evening. “I am so happy to take the jersey,” the 24-year-old said on Tuesday after becoming the first Spaniard since Alberto Contador in 2015 to take hold of the maglia rosa. “I didn’t believe in the moment when someone told me I had the pink jersey. After 10mins I finally realized it. I will enjoy it today, tomorrow – I don’t know how many days I will have it, but I will enjoy every moment.”

There were no changes at the top of the points classification on Tuesday, and so Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), who has been dressed in pink for the past three stages, will wear the maglia ciclamino, cyclamen jersey, for the first time after Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) had looked after it for him.

Kämna will be dressed in the maglia azzurra, or blue jersey, as leader in the mountains classification after the German won the first summit finish of this year’s race atop Mount Etna.

López is also the best young rider, but Mauri Vansevenant (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) will wear the maglia bianca (white jersey) on his behalf.

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