Giro d’Italia: Making it off the islands10. May 2017, Messina (ITA) — Road Team
The bunch sprint that played out on the 159km Stage 5 of the Giro d'Italia, won by Fernando Gaviria (Quickstep-Floors), brought one thing to a close in the centenary edition of the race; the islands.
After three stages in Sardinia and two in Sicily, it's time for the race to head to the mainland of Italy to begin the next 16 stages that will eventually determine who takes home the Maglia Rosa in Milan on May 28.
The two islands set the backdrop to a surprise solo win, three sprints and one solo mountain victory, but also brought a lot of risk as Sports Director Maximilian Sciandri explained.
Maximilian, you said prior to the start of the 100th edition of the Giro d'Italia that BMC Racing Team's priority for the opening week of racing was to make it off the islands safely. What makes racing on islands a risk?
“All of the risks of road racing tend to be amplified when we race on islands, no matter where we are. The winds are often strong, or gale force like on stage 3, and come from all directions, the roads are narrow and we rarely find nice smooth surfaces, so as a result we see a lot of crashes. A small crash can make a big impact on the race as we saw with Rohan Dennis’ crash on stage 3. That’s not forgetting Silvan Dillier’s crash on stage 1, and over the last five days we have seen a lot of riders go down from all of the teams. On the other hand, it’s always nice to race on the islands where the scenery is beautiful and you can race in all different kinds of conditions, from flat terrain to the mountains.”
BMC Racing Team didn't come off the islands completely unscathed with the loss of Rohan Dennis on stage 4. What is your general observation of the first five stages?
“It’s definitely been five days of highs and lows. The low was of course, losing Rohan Dennis on stage 4 after he was still suffering from the effects of his stage 3 crash. Rohan was a key player in our Giro d’Italia team and this was his first chance to race for the General Classification in a Grand Tour. He had worked really hard since December when we decided on the race as a big goal for him, so it’s disappointing to see him gone. Unfortunately, that’s part of racing and definitely part of racing as a GC contender.”
“The highs have been seeing Tejay van Garderen looking confident and strong, especially on the Mount Etna summit finish on stage 4. We may only be five stages down but I think we can take a lot of confidence from his performance, and the performance from the rest of the team. I have been really impressed with the way that team has stuck together in every stage. We have really been racing as a team, which isn’t as easy as it sounds, which is a good sign for the next 16 stages.”
The race now heads to the mainland. How do you expect the next week of racing to play out?
“We don’t head back into the real mountains until Sunday with the Blockhaus climb which is where the GC guys have their next opportunity. So I don’t expect there will be many fireworks in the GC fight before then. We have some good stages coming up for sprinters and breakaways. Then after the next rest day we have the first time trial. This is an important one for Tejay van Garderen and as it’s almost 40km, it’s a good chance to gain some time. We will be approaching the next week of racing like we always do; as a team.”
Stage 5 Pedara > Messina (159km)
Top 3: 1. Fernando Gaviria (Quickstep-Floors), 2. Jakub Mareczko (Willier Triestina – Selle Italia), 3. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe).
BMC Racing Team top 3: 35. Francisco Ventoso, 37. Tejay van Garderen, 46. Joey Rosskopf