Swiss rider had prior experience on the gravel
Martin Kohler (BMC) was the early aggressor on stage five of the Giro d'Italia, and while his bold bid over the unmade roads of Umbria did not result in stage victory, it did secure the Swiss rider a day in the green jersey of best climber.
Speaking to Cyclingnews in Orvieto after receiving his jersey on the podium, Kohler explained that he had the stage earmarked beforehand after a strong performance on similar roads at March's Strade Bianche.
"I have some good memories of Strade Bianche because in March I was in the breakaway of that race, and actually I like these roads," Kohler said. "Before the Giro I was looking forward to this stage quite a bit."
Kohler launched his attack early in the stage, and his solo effort would last until the final ten kilometres, when he was caught and then passed by Pieter Weening (Rabobank) and John Gadret (Ag2r-La Mondiale) on the final run-in to the line. He said afterwards that he had not intended to spend almost the entire stage off the front alone.
"It's always hard to get in the breakaway and I was trying in the beginning but I didn't expect to be alone," he said. "It was a really, really hard day and I lost a lot of energy. In the beginning I went hard until I had a gap. After that I slowed down in the hope that somebody would come up to me, but nobody wanted to, so I went alone."
While he would ultimately have to settle for 50th place on the final haul up to the citadel of Orvieto, Kohler had the considerable consolation of assuming control of the green jersey of best climber. He acknowledged, however, that he did not expect to keep it beyond Friday's summit finish at Montevergine.
"It's great, I didn't really expect before the Giro to wear a jersey so I would have signed for this beforehand," he said. "But I think Friday's stage is really hard and there are a lot of points on offer, so I think the guy who gets to the top of that climb first is going to take it off me."
The day saw the peloton return to competitive action for the first time since the tragic death of Wouter Weylandt, and Kohler felt that it was important for the riders to have that stage behind them as they attempt to return to normality.
"It was hard but luckily for us, life still goes on," he said. "It doesn't change anything if you go slow every day. For us now it's a case going back to normal, back to reality.
"It's what we have chosen, it's what we live for - we love to race. For sure it was a bit strange, but we had a lot of time to think about it yesterday, and now we have to try to accept it. It goes on."