Stage 5: Modena-Cattolica
Date: May 12, 2021
Stage start: 1:20 p.m. CEST
Stage type: Flat
This stage is so straight and flat that only the curvature of the Earth prevents you from seeing the finish from the start. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but it highlights the extraordinary nature of this 175-kilometre stage that arrows south-east from the start in Modena to the Adriatic resort of Cattolica between Rimini and Pesaro.
It follows the Via Aemilia Roman road, which was completed in the second century BC and ran for more than 250 kilometres between Piacenza and Rimini, where one of the original bridges still remains that carried it over the rivers that meander through the vast Po river plain. The route circles Bologna and speeds on towards the first intermediate sprint at Imola, where the hills that featured in last year’s World Championships remain on the horizon.
On they go, through Faenza, Forli and Cesena to reach the second intermediate sprint at Savignano sul Rubicone, the little river that marked the boundary between the Roman province of Cisalpine Gaul and Rome-controlled Italy to the south. The route strides through Rimini and Riccione to reach Cattolica, where a showdown between the sprinters looks odds on. The only complicating factor in this wide-open terrain could be the wind. If it’s gusting, some teams are sure to attempt to split the race, Deceuninck-QuickStep and Ineos Grenadiers among the most likely candidates on past form and due to the fact neither outfit is likely to feature a specialist sprinter in its Giro lineup.