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Giro d'Italia Giro d‘Italia 2024, Stage 5, Genova-Lucca, 178 km

Wow, it‘s easy to make these threads! @Devil's Elbow gets the credit.

Stage 5: Genova – Lucca, 178.0k​

As promised, the third sprint in a row, as the Giro returns to Lucca for the first time since the farce of 1985.

The route



This Giro visits quite a few of Italy’s largest cities, and today Genova is on the menu. It rose in the Middle Ages as one of Italy’s so-called maritime republics, and it and Venice came to dominate trade in the Mediterranean and with it, trade with Asia. Their rivalry shaped history well beyond what is now Italy, notably being the direct cause of the Fall of Constantinople in 1204. However, it eventually ended up on the losing side of this rivalry, and while it remained a highly wealthy and influential city thanks in no small part to its status as an early banking centre, it would never be quite so powerful again. Indeed, both Milan and France controlled it for some time. After the Renaissance, it went into major decline for the same reasons as Venice: the rise of the Ottoman Empire costing it most of its colonies, and the discovery of the route around Africa rendering the old trade routes with the Far East obsolete. By the late 18th century, both cities were husks of their former selves and after being conquered by Napoleonic France and neither saw their independence restored at the Congress of Vienna. It remains one of the main ports in the Western Mediterranean as well as by far the largest city in Liguria, but of course its power is incomparable to its golden age.


The coast east of Genoa is so rugged that even following the coast as directly as possible doesn’t mean your route is going to be flat. First up is the climb to Ruta, the first ‘why isn’t this categorised?’ climb of the race.


After some moderately hilly terrain, it’s time for the main climb of the day, Passo del Bracco.


Unfortunately, the descent of this climb gives way to a very straightforward final 100 kilometres which sees the peloton exchange Liguria for Tuscany. There is one last climb at just over 20k to go, to Montemagno, but as Jakub Mareczko isn’t racing and Andrea Guardini has retired, no sprinter should get dropped here.


The final kilometres are very average fare, with some turns and roundabouts to stretch things out but nothing remarkably technical. We finish just outside the city walls.



And this is where we talk about Lucca, and why it hasn’t appeared in the Giro for 39 years despite being the home city of Mario Cipollini. The 1984 Giro remains the most farcical edition in its history, with (as was usual in this era, for this was the deepest point of the dark ages) an extremely easy route designed to benefit the main Italian hopes of the time, the annulment of a perfectly-rideable Passo dello Stelvio, and Francesco Moser doing a Démare-on-the-Poggio ten times over with zero repercussions. And yet, it had all not been enough for Moser to wrest the race lead from Laurent Fignon… until the final-day TT, in Verona. Moser needed to overturn more than a minute, so naturally the only thing to do for the organisation was to have a helicopter fly directly behind him to create a favourable airstream, while doing the exact opposite for Fignon by flying in front of him.

So, what did the organisers do for the 1985 edition after that horror show? More of the same. There was a grand total of one HC-difficulty climb in the route as presented, Gran San Bernardo, and at the last minute the route was changed so they went through the tunnel rather than over the pass instead. Once again, Moser found himself in second heading into the final TT, needing to overturn a marginally smaller gap (this time to Hinault) on a marginally longer course than the year prior. Take a guess what the organisers did with the helicopters? Thankfully, justice was served that day, with Hinault only losing seven seconds. That TT was the eighth and until now the final time the Giro visited Lucca, despite there being every reason to stop by in the 90s or early 00s to honour its most famous son and one of the Giro’s greatest stars, Mario Cipollini. It probably wasn’t a coincidence, and there is a dark irony in the race finally returning at what is probably its lowest point since the horrors of the 80s.


What to expect?

Too early in the race for a breakaway and no team that seems capable of drilling it all day like Sagan’s teams used to – this should be a full bunch sprint.

One last sprint day until it gets more interesting again…
The only reason we have sprint stages is because Grand Tours have to visit a lot of cities and show off the country for tourism purposes and some of those places are in flat areas.
I wouldn't say it's the only reason and it certainly isn't the reason for this stage considering the abundance of hills surrounding Lucca.
But I won't complain about sprint stages in this Giro, they have been entertaining.

Very disappointing that this isn't a sprint finish in the old town. What's happened to the Giro I know and love?
The city council pushed for a finish inside the old town but I understand Petacchi convinced them it'd be too dangerous and they agreed on finishing just outside the city walls.