Giro impresario Angelo Zomegnan likes to say the difference between the Giro and the Tour de France is that he puts a little “art” in every stage.
The art was on full display today in the 191k race through scenic Tuscany to the hilltop finish in Orvieto. It was art-directed chaos — a day of wild crashes, mechanicals and punctures on the three sections of dusty strade bianchi. That’s the Giro — so passionate, so painful.
It was a thrilling battle and no rider appreciated Zomegnan’s inspiration more than Peter Weening of Rabobank. With just 10k to go, he and John Gadret (AG2R) caught Martin Kohler (BMC) who’d been out front nearly all day. Then the Dutchman powered away from Gadret and hung tough on the brutal 15% grind up to glory with all the top contenders right on his tail.
Halfway up, it appeared that Weening was in the final death rattle, legs barely turning, resignation on his face. The pace behind was furious with Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD), Mikel Nieve (Euskatel Euskadi) and David Arroyo (Movistar) launching attacks. But as the grade eased in the last stretch, Weening found something at the bottom of the tank and held the dogs off by eight seconds.
“This is perfect for me,” said Weening. “After a stage win at the Tour (de France), this is the second biggest win of my career. Now I’m really happy. I’ll try and defend the jersey as long as possible. We’ll see what happens but my Giro is already perfect. Now I hope to fly for the next two weeks.”
One rider who did not fly was David Millar (Garmin-Cervelo). Wearing the vintage maglia rosa, Millar crashed, fought hard to catch back on, then blew up on the final climb. As Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) told Cyclingnews at the start, “I think it’s going to be a real shit fight.” So hard to tell the difference between art and absolute shit sometimes but Millar will likely vote for the latter. His day was crap.
Thanks to the crazy dirt roads, the GC deck reshuffled. Weening in pink, Marco Pinotti and Kanstantsin Sivtsov (HTC-Highroad) two seconds back, then Garmin’s Le Mevel at five seconds.
Art is often in the eye of the beholder. Peter Weening thinks stage five to Orvieto is just about the most beautiful thing he has ever seen.