Hello my lovely cycling aficinados, and before we start today can I just say a super quick THANK YOU for your support so far this Giro for this bulletin - I'm so glad to have you along for the ride and thanks endlessly to all my awesome collaborators from writers to artists to DJs to graphic designers and web people. All amazing folk who this wouldn't be the same without. Consider signing up for a paid subscription so I can buy them all a drink?
Six stages down, and it was a day with plenty to talk about. Some stunning scenery was ogled, some close calls were had, some history was made, and some scripts were followed to the absolute letter. We're back with a full complement of contributions today, along with some additional artwork and video content, GIFs and talking points, so let's get to it.
Here's your contents:
Today in review
The 47th stage of the Giro d’Italia to take place in Naples began under clearer skies, a promising start given yesterday’s washout, so too the lack of apparent injuries sustained in the carnage – all those affected present and correct in the peloton (the only DNS - Clement Russo - departing the race with covid).
It was a busy neutral zone on stage 6: Mads and Remco buried the hatchet after some cross words were exchanged following the latter’s second crash yesterday, Otto Vergaerde and Gianni Moscon crashed (but got up again) and even after the pink procession passed through kilometre zero there were punctures for Bonifazio and Milan, and one of the shortest stages became progressively shorter.
Finally Aleotti waved his flag and the hostilities began, with Stefan Kung pressuring and then Alessandro De Marchi taking off by himself. There was another, road furniture-based crash featuring Vine, Gaviria, and Milan, the latter having a very eventful start to the day, but once again all was well as the race headed towards Vesuvius [insert explosive play on words here].
The break looked to be established, and consisted of Gavazzi (EOLO-Kometa) and Di Marchi, later joined by three more riders: Alessandro Delettre (Cofidis), Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech), and Charlie Quarterman (Corratec), with Verre from Arkea-Samsic trying in vain to bridge the gap. The roadblock came into place behind and everybody shrugged and prepared for a quiet one, a reprieve for those who were caught up in the various crashes of yesterday. The gap stretched out and we all breathed a sign of relief.
Bardiani, who missed the break, obviously told someone to have a crack and try to get away but they were quickly chased down and given a stern talking to by the sprint teams, but it was a literal green light for attacks to begin again, with Kung and Cort both clearly interested in the day’s action. IT didn’t last long before everyone saw sense and things settled once again.
It was quiet for a while, and rain threatened but thankfully didn’t really materialise. Heading onto the first of two category 2 climbs INEOS pushed the pace, presumably solely to put pressure on their rivals, being the GC team with arguably the strongest overall presence, having not had team leaders crash or a second string on-call team. Did it have the desired effect? Only time will tell in terms of wear and tear but the short-term effect was a long stringing out of the peloton, as the race arrived on the Amalfi coast and to be honest, I’ve no idea what happened in the race for quite some time after that as I was too busy ogling the stunning sights and planning imaginary holidays.
The breakaway was still broken away and the bunch was back in the capable hands of Trek, DSM, Bahrain and UAE. Cavendish was dropped and the peloton closed in on the breakaway on the long descent, with De Marchi and Clarke clipping off the front in pursuit of victory. The gap to the peloton was 2.30 and with under 40km to go, the pressure upped in the bunch as the leading duo began to dream of a miracle victory.
Another 10km passed, and Clarke and De Marchi prevailed, losing no more time. It was all set to be thrilling bunch v breakaway fight to the line. There was some debate as to which teams were contributing, with Trek and Bahrain doing the lion’s share, but they were finally joined by Movistar and Alpecin riding for Gaviria and Groves respectively.
With 20km to go, the race turned into a headwind, which was bad news for the leading pair. The gap had reduced to 1.30 and the bunch were working hard. The chase was on, but it wasn’t to be a straightforward run-in for two of the peloton’s most unlucky GC riders. First, Primoz Roglič, who suffered a mechanical and had to change bikes, then Geraint Thomas, who was the only rider to come to grief on a tricky corner, the road furniture proving his undoing. Both were fine and made it back to the peloton. The breakaway showed us how it was done:
At the sharp end of the race, it would come down to the wire. With just 300m to go the peloton finally reeled in Clarkey and De Marchi (the crime-fighting duo we never knew we needed) and Fernando Gaviria was the first to launch his sprint, as has become his trademark of late. Groves powered past him but as the line approached, the man, the myth, the MADS PEDERSEN finally delivered on the promises his team have been making all week as he crossed the line first to complete the Grand Tour trilogy, an incredible feat in a period of just 10 months. The ‘Peder-Slam’ as it’s been colloquially termed. To celebrate, excellent graphic designer and content creator Sam Mould has put together this video commemorating a truly great achievement.
Speedy stage preview
Stage 7 – Friday 12th May – Capua – Gran Sasso d’Italia – 218km (Mountains)
The first four-star rated stage of the Giro comes towards the end of week 1, and could be the day the GC riders come out to play for the first time. It serves as transition stage too, travelling 200km north, back towards the Abruzzo region.
‘Flat’ is an alien concept on this stage, which heads up a steadily rising false flat for the first 60km, before the bunch face an uncategorised climb followed by a cat 2. A short plateau and a long descent leads straight back into another category 2 climb, ahead of this year’s first summit finish up the Campo Imperatore. The climb is lengthy at 26.4km but with a flat central section, it’s only rated category 1. The final 4.2km will likely provide an early indication as to the form of the main GC contenders – it averages a challenging 8.2%.
WHAT TO EXPECT: The GC guys with week 1 good legs throwing down the gauntlet in the final few kilometres.
HOT TIP: Remco Evenepoel to try and make a statement about his climbing form by striking out early. The other GC contenders to keep up with him. PRIMOŽ ROGLIČ to sneak the win, and begin the tall task of closing his gap to Evenepoel.
Lena's Giro Antipasti
Campo Imperatore will lead us over 2000 meters for the first time in this Giro. We’re also back in Abruzzo.
However, the elevated plateau looks vastly different to the lush beaches we’ve visited at the start of the Giro: grasslands as far as the eye can reach; very few people but lots of animals. It supposedly looks a bit like Mongolia.
Campo Imperatore lies right beside Como Grande; the southernmost glacier in Europe, and it is surrounded by mountains on all sides. The plateau itself is 27 kilometres long and averages just 8km in width.
Three mountain villages exist in the south-eastern part of the plateau, all formerly ruled by the Medici family of Florence who greatly supported the nomadic sheep farming on Campo Imperatore.
The whole region of Abruzzo grew rich from the wool trade and when the Medici fell from grace the wool trade suffered greatly, and Abruzzo grew to be poor with many sons and daughters leaving to search for better fortune in other parts of the world.
Campo Imperatore itself experienced its own small-scale migration. People moved from the plateau to lower areas below the mountains around L’Aquila.
An economic turning point for the plateau happened in the 1920s. You get three guesses about what could happen on a 2000m mountain plateau and the first two don’t count.
A ski resort of course. One of the first in Italy, actually. It grew so popular that the Italian fascists build a cable car and a concrete street in the 1930s. The proximity to Rome made it a favourite retreat for them. Ironically enough, Mussolini himself was imprisoned in one of the hotels in 1943.
Nonetheless the cable cars reopened in 1947 and Campo Imperatore remains a popular ski resort to this day during the winter.
There’s also an observatory which I think should be very close to the finish area.
The plateau also claims among the highest number of wildcats, wolves and eagles in Europe. The formerly near-extinct population of Abruzzo chamois is slowly but steadily growing again. And if you’re asking yourself what a chamois is beside the padding of your bib, it’s a kind of goat.
While I’m writing this a few days before the stage there’s still quite a bit of snow. And since the weather magicians haven’t prognosed a heatwave it should remain that way.
Italian to go
I don't know about you, but I am still not done thinking about the absolute mayhem we saw yesterday. Also, I haven't processed today's heartbreak yet, so I will just ignore it and talk about yesterday instead. I kept thinking to myself 'oh, it is one of those stages'. I watched yesterday's stage live while at work and after the fourth 'OH HOLY SH*T!', my coworkers closed all the doors connecting them to my office. Yesterday's stage certainly fatto il diavolo a quattro. Literally translated, this means it 'did the devil at four,' and metaphorically it means it raised hell. To fare il diavolo a quattro is to cause a lot of trouble or be very mischievous. It usually conveys a sense of chaos. If that doesn't describe yesterday's stage, I don't know what does.
The finish of today's stage had me shouting Porca miseria! at my phone screen. I love that Mads Pedersen got to complete the GT stage win triple - but my heart broke for De Marchi and Clarke. Porca miseria expresses frustration or disappointment and literally translated means 'pig misery'. It can be compared to the English 'Oh for goodness sake!' or 'Damn it!'. If you haven't noticed yet, porca or pig is often used as a vulgar intensifier in the Italian language.
Today, we are adding mozzi to our bicycle - hubs. Hubs serve as the central component that attaches the wheel to the bicycle frame. They provide a secure connection, ensuring the wheel stays in place while cycling. They house the bearings that allow the wheel to rotate smoothly. High-quality hubs with well-maintained bearings contribute to reduced friction and efficient power transfer. I've added them in here:
Canzone dell'Amore Infinito
Today’s stage… where do I start? Well, by getting nerdy with it and adding far too many songs it seems. Strap in - this is gonna be a rollercoaster not dissimilar to today’s stage.
14: Stage 6: Dean Martin - That’s Amore
Setting the scene
Without having any scientific basis for this claim; I feel like Napoli might be the most mentioned Italian city in pop music lyrics… It’s partially due to the hefty immigration from Southern Italy into the American pop-cultural landscape, partially even older romanticism and well, even the Tiktok-era’s questionable fascination with 'mafia aesthetics' might play in here, but no matter the reason - here’s Dino… I mean Dean, ready to introduce you to today’s centrepiece city.
And yes, I could have picked ‘O Sole mio' as it’s the quintessential canzona napulitana but I like this one better.
15: Stage 6: Orchestra Mandolinistica Italiana - Tarantella Napoletana
The traditional Tarantella Napoletana (and its musical siblings) is the reason the mandolin is to Southern Italy what the accordion is to France: the no.1 stereotypical (verging on caricatured) auditory association for the region.
Heck; even Never Strays Far is using it for their Giro-intro and it’s featured in a variety of classical ballets and movie soundtracks.
Many will tell you that it’s named Tarantella because it’s a dance designed to cure bites from a spider (that most likely isn’t the one we call tarantula today); an idea that today is predominantly thought to be leftover pagan rites and bacchanals - or because getting bitten by a spider can give anyone the urge to shake and jerk around like crazy...
I don’t know if the dance can cure covid-19, crash soreness or the sadness of having lost a stage on the last 300m after a whole day in the break, but I’d be happy to see riders test it out.
The Mandolin & Tambourine version we all know even if we don’t know that we know it is however NOT a spider-song. Thankfully, since I hate spiders.
Instead, this version started as a historic courtship ritual dance and evolved into a communal celebration showcasing a battle between dancers and musicians who are trying to outdo each other as the tempo is rising towards the crescendo. I am not sure which of those two vibes, courtship or one-upping each other in battle, is the best metaphor for today, probably both?
16: Stage 6: Siouxie and the Banshees - Cities in Dust
Along the way today
I was a morbid kid. Maybe not Wednesday Addams morbid, but 10-year-old me was, despite my seemingly wholesome disposition, obsessed with natural disasters, the end of the world, Stage 5 of the Giro 2023… And yes; I had a goth phase as a teenager, thanks for asking.
Fast forward and this is still one of my all-time favourite songs. I mean; if I died in Pompei, suffocated under layers of volcanic ashes, I'd at least hope someone made an absolute banger of a dance-punk track out of my misery…
18: Stage 6: Carly Simon - Nobody Does It Better (The Spy Who Loved Me OST)
I was tempted to add in something about Napoli’s role in the recent resurgence of a modern-yet-vintage-sleazy version of Italo Disco (look up the label Periodica Records if you’re curious) but then the one and only Mads P won the stage and that suddenly seemed less important.
I’ve been trying to figure out Mads’ favourite song since the stage ended, but have yet to come up with anything definitive, so if he wants input on the playlist, he’ll have to tell me and then win another stage. That’s not too much to ask, is it? So instead I’ll take inspiration from Trek’s beautifully cinefile team announcement spearheaded by today’s stage winner disguised as the action hero they call Pedersen, Mads Pedersen.
And if you ask me; nobody does it better.
The Watch Zone
Keeping an eye out for the chosen ones...
Young rider watch: on paper, it doesn't look like it was a good day for Matthew Riccitello. He finished in 150th spot, 18.25 down in the gruppetto. With no information I can only hope he’s OK and was just taking it easy and/or dropped a shedload of time in the hopes of going stage hunting tomorrow and beyond.
EF watch: all but two of our colourful warriors finished with the bunch today. Magnus Cort looked vaguely interested at the beginning of the stage but according to Vaughters, he's planning on peaking at the Tour. Let's see if he comes good before then. Plenty more chances. Let's go EF.
The Fallen: it was mentioned earlier on, but there was just one rider who did not take to the start today - Clement Russo (covid): thank you for your service. With David Dekker coming down hard yesterday and finishing alone, two minutes down on the gruppetto, I fear he may join the list tomorrow. Total riders remaining: 171
Let's begin today's content round-up with another contribution from Emma Bianchi, a fantastic artist who produced this amazing creation inspired by yesterday's finish line drama.
We have been truly spoiled with excellent things to read, look at, listen to and watch today so I'm going to keep it short, and leave you with this throwback video of Mads celebrating - never not relevant on a day like today. Ciao for now.