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Slippery roads, stray dogs, and chaos in Salerno

Slippery roads, stray dogs, and chaos in Salerno

It should have been an simple day for the GC men, but stage five was proof that there is little room for relaxation in a three-week race

It’s a common misconception that winning a three week Grand Tour means being the strongest rider in the race. Of course, the number of watts a rider can produce throughout a time trial or up and over the high mountains is one crucial element to taking victory in a tour like the Giro d’Italia, but, as stage five of the race proved, there’s far more to it than that. What should have been a straightforward day for the general classification contenders turned into one of the most chaotic and stressful days of the 2023 edition so far.

This can, mostly, be blamed on one thing: the weather. This year’s Giro d’Italia is not being graced by the sunshine that so often frequents the popular holiday destination of the Amalfi Coast. Instead, it seems like April showers are arriving a month late and making their presence well known. Riders began the 171km stage wrapped up in wet weather gear with rain jackets flapping in the wind and the sky spitting huge droplets of water onto the greasy roads of Southern Italy. 

The first crash of the day almost seemed inevitable, coming after less than ten kilometres of racing. Martin Marcellusi (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè) and Stefano Gandin (Team Corratec-Selle Italia) came a cropper on one of the first ice rink like descents as they attempted to establish a breakaway. Their misfortune set the tone for the rest of the day and such treacherous roads made for a slow moving and nervous peloton riding with caution behind. 

But no amount of careful feathering of the brakes or attentive cornering could have prevented what came next in this wretched stage of the Giro d’Italia. As the peloton skirted through roads of Campania, a small, terrified looking stray dog found itself in the road with the WorldTour peloton hurtling towards it. With its fur dripping wet and eyes wide with the shock of it all, the dog ended up in the way of none other than former race leader and world champion, Remco Evenepoel. As the Belgian swerved to avoid the stray canine, he hit a curb on the side of the road, flipping over the handlebars and ending up face to face with the tarmac. Evenepoel may be the resounding favourite to win this race overall…

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