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Giro d’Italia stage 5: Weening takes maglia rosa as Millar bites the dust

Stage 5: Piombino to Orvieto, 191km

On the first day of racing after the crash on Monday which claimed the life of Wouter Weylandt, Rabobank‘s Pieter Weening claimed a fine solo victory in Orvieto after launching a perfectly timed attack nine kilometres from the finish. On an exciting and eventful day of racing which saw Weening’s teammate Tom Slagter hospitalised with a broken jaw after another nasty crash, it was a welcome return to racing after a sombre day yesterday.

Weylandt’s friend Tyler Farrar and the eight remaining Leopard Trek riders retired from the race overnight, having crossed the finish line arm-in-arm in yesterday’s emotional and cathartic neutralised stage. BMC’s Martin Kohler launched a successful early solo attack, building a maximum lead of 12:50 before the Garmin-Cervélo team of maglia rosa David Millar decided it was time to reel him back in. By the time he reached the Croce di Fighine, the second of two categorised mountains 40km from home, his advantage had been pegged back to five minutes.

Millar toils in vain

Millar was dropped on this third-category climb, having earlier collided with Ángel Vicioso, who trailed him by just seven seconds at the start of the day, as they scrambled for bonus seconds at the day’s intermediate sprint. Both tumbled heavily to the ground but remounted with little more than road rash and bruised egos.

From the Fighine, nearly half of the final 40 kilometres were on three sections of strade bianche – dusty, unpaved white gravel roads – and a decisive split in the bunch appeared as a group of around 50 riders, including all the main contenders, went clear of the rest of the pack. Isolated from his teammates after being dropped, Millar eventually fought his way back to the front chase group, but the effort cost him dearly. Meanwhile, a series of attacks took place off the front of the favourites’ group, including a brutal but unsuccessful escape attempt by Vincenzo Nibali.

Stage 5 provided spectacular racing on the strade bianchi (image courtesy of official Giro d'Italia on Twitter)

Quick Step‘s Dario Cataldo and Rabobank’s Bram Tankink then fired off in pursuit of Kohler, but with around 25km to go first Cataldo slid off into a ditch and, a few hundred metres later, Tankink dropped his chain and watched helplessly as the chase group swept past. Weening then launched an attack of his own, and was joined by experienced cyclo-crosser John Gadret (AG2R LA Mondiale).

A bittersweet day for Rabobank

As his teammate up ahead pursued the leader, Tom Slagter crashed heavily with 15km remaining. He landed on his head but remained conscious, having fractured his jaw and needed facial stitches. He is being kept in hospital overnight.

Weening won his maiden Giro stage with a well-timed attack

Weening and Gadret made the junction to the tiring Kohler as they passed under the 10km banner. A kilometre later Weening accelerated, easing away from the other two who appeared to have no response and were gradually drawn back into the pursuing favourites’ group, which was being led by Lampre and Sky.

Nonetheless the Dutchman, riding in full-on time trial mode, powered on, holding a steady gap of around 40 seconds as he hit the final short but severe uncategorised climb – just 600m long but rising up to 12% gradient – 2km from the line. The climb slowed him virtually to walking pace but he held his nerve even as Sky’s Thomas Lövkvist launched an attack up the climb which was too much for the exhausted Millar, who plummeted out of the back of the group. Lövkvist’s attack was quickly pegged back, but the top riders were then content to keep a watchful eye on each other, allowing Weening to ride unchallenged to the finish to claim victory.

Geox‘s Fabio Duarte edged out Androni Giocattoli‘s José Serpa in the sprint for second as most of the main contenders – including pre-race favourites Nibali and Alberto Contador – finished eight seconds behind. A struggling Millar was 2:50 down and conceded the overall lead to Weening. Nibali is the best placed of the major contenders, 24 seconds down in sixth. Michele Scarponi is just two seconds behind Nibali, with Contador a further four seconds back.

Millar confessed he was unable to defend his jersey after his crash and the effect of allergies:

I have really bad allergies. I always get them in this part of Italy. I was blocked, it wasn’t possible [to defend the jersey].

Thursday’s stage six from Orvieto to Fiuggi is another day of medium mountains at 216km long. The riders will face an undulating profile with a sapping final 11km which features nearly 300 metres of steady climbing that will expose tired legs if the peloton attacks it at full racing speed. It is a good opportunity for a break to stay clear all the way to the finish.

Stage 6 profile

Stage 5 result:

1. Pieter Weening (Rabobank) 4:54:04

2. Fabio Duarte (Geox-TMC) +0:08

3. José Serpa (Androni Giocattoli) same time

4. Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervélo) s/t

5. Oscar Gatto (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) s/t

6. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) s/t

7. Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Sungard) s/t

8. Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) s/t

9. Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) s/t

10. Roman Kreuziger (Astana) s/t

General classification:

1. Pieter Weening (Rabobank) 14:59:33

2. Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad) +0:02

3. Kanstantsin Sivtsov (HTC-Highroad) +0:02

4. Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervélo) +0:05

5. Pablo Lastras (Movistar) +0:22

6. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) +0:24

7. Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) +0:26

8. Steven Kruijswijk (Rabobank) +0:28

9. Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Sungard) +0:30

10. José Serpa (Androni Giocattoli) +0:33

Points classification:

1. Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) 28 pts

2. Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervélo) 26

3. Pieter Weening (Rabobank) 25

4. Ángel Vicioso (Androni Giocattoli) 25

5. Fabio Duarte (Geox-TMC) 20

Mountains classification:

1. Martin Kohler (BMC) 10 pts

2. Gianluca Brambilla (Colnago-CSF Inox) 8

3. Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervélo) 5

4. Roman Kreuziger (Astana) 3

5. Sebastian Lang (Omega Pharma-Lotto) 3

Links: Giro d’Italia official websiteSteephill.tv

Giro d’Italia recaps

Stage 1: Pinotti swaps red, white and green for pink

Stage 2: Petacchi celebrates, Cavendish remonstrates in ham-fisted Parma finish

Stage 3: Weylandt’s death casts a long shadow

Stage 4: Peloton rides in tribute to Weylandt

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About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

19 Responses to Giro d’Italia stage 5: Weening takes maglia rosa as Millar bites the dust

  1. Sheree says:

    Exciting day’s racing yesterday, just what the Giro needed. I was particularly impressed with Nibali’s descending on the strade bianchi. Even though he didn’t manage to make a break for it, I was impressed that he tried. Bodes well for future stages.

    • Tim says:

      Yes indeed. Exciting racing, exciting visually. Reminiscent of last year’s mud-splattered stage to Montalcino, or the Tour’s trip to the Paris-Roubaix pave. Really impressed by Nibali – a great example of attack being the best form of defence, and surely also a sign that he is in decent nick? Bring on Etna!

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