| Athough considered by many not to be a decisive factor for the final overall classification, today's Stage 5 started the fight for the overall and gave us a good indication of who is on form to go for the Maglia Rosa.
Stefano Garzelli proved that he's the man to beat, by displaying a cool head throughout the stage, letting his powerful Mapei squad guide him until the last 4kms of the final climb. Bettini, Cioni, Noe and Evans "bodyguarded" their team leader up the slope, setting him up for the victory.
American Tyler Hamiton (SCS-Tiscali) despite another "close encounter of the pavement kind" had a superb day, staying at the front on the tough ascend of Colletto del Moro. It's hard to say what caused him to go down, but luck was on his side, as he was able to remount and chase on his teammate's, Carlos Sastre, machine.
And with all the ongoing rumors about running out money, the Kelme team placed two riders in the top ten places of the stage and Santiago Perez Fernandez is 4th overall.
Still, this was only the first adventure into the high roads. Simoni seems to have regained his form. Casagrande looks strong, with his poker face, playing the stalking game. Gotti, Tonkov, Rebellin and Escartin had a good day. Frigo's form is unpredictable and will have to work hard to gain the time lost.
And speaking of lost, Pantani's Giro ended today. He may ride for a few more stages to try to salvage his honor and pride, but his GC aspirations were left on the two climbs today.
Tomorrow's Stage 6(Cuneo-Varazze/181 kms.) presents a flatter course and it will be the perfect hunting grounds for a "kamikaze break", although the sprinters may have saved something today.
DP will be covering the stage and bringing you the latest from Italy.