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Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage five of the Giro d'Italia from Cosenza to Matera.
Hello from Italy for the 199km stage in the deep south of Italy from Cosenza to Matera.
After two stages will hilly finishes and tense finale for the overall contenders, today's stage is largely flat with a late a short climb and a uphill finish in the centre of Matera.
The stage heads across the toe of Italy to the Golfo di Taranto and follows the coast for much of the day before heading inland to Matera.
The riders are covering the 7.7km transfer from Cosenza to the km 0 start point.
The finish in Matera is perfect for the sprinters who can also handle the late climb. It seems the bookmakers favourite is John Degenkolb of Argos-Shimano.
This is how the official race book describes today's finish:
Last kms descending slightly from -3 km to the ï¬�nal km, through wide urban avenues with some slight curves. Two left-hand curves either side of the ï¬�amme rouge lead to the ï¬�nal straight, 800 m, all slightly uphill (width 7.5 m, surfaced with asphalt).
The final two kilometres include two 90 degree left turns, before a 900m-long finishing straight.
Just walked last 3k of #Giro in Matera. Nasty couple of +90 lefts around 1k. Finish uphill, straight for 800m. All about timing sprint?
@leguape Wed, 8th May 2013 12:00:40
Matera was declared the ï¬�rst UNESCO World Heritage Site in southern Italy in 1993. It know for its stunning white houses, with many carved into the rocky hillsides.
It will provide a stunning back drop to the high-speed finish.
Yet again the break of the day has formed quickly, with six riders going clear after five kilometres.
The six are: Tomas Gil (Androni Venezuela), Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvoli), Alan Marangoni (Cannondale), Ricardo Mestre (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Brian Bulgac (Lotto Belisol), Rafael Andriato (Vini Fantini Selle Italia).
After 10km of racing, the six already have a gap of more than three minutes.
The gap is now close to ten minutes as the peloton prefers to ride steady during the early part of the stage.
The gap is now nine minutes.
Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) is also being touted as possible winner today. In theory its suits his ability to handle the climbs and still produce a fast finish. No doubt we will see Lampre-Merida to set him up for the finish.
Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) could also be a contender today. He was hoping to do well on Tuesday but had to fight to get back on after a puncture on the clim.,
Orica-GreenEdge does not have a rider in the breakaway but will be hoping that either Matt Goss or Leigh Howard can win the sprint today.
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) could also be up there but the late clmib and the rise to the finish could hurt him and fellow pure sprinters Francesco Chicchi (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia), Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) and Mattia Gavazzi (Androni Giocattoli).
It seems Vini Fantini is putting their hopes in Oscar Gatto. He won an uphill finish in the 2011 Giro to Tropea, holding off Alberto Contador.
To check out the details of stage five in high detail with Google Maps, Earth and Street View here.
It seems that Pablo Urtasun (Euskaltel-Euskadi) has retired due to the injuries he suffered in the crash on stage 1 in Naples. There are 205 riders left in the Giro d'Italia peloton.
The peloton has begun a more organised chase, with Kausha riding on the front to defend Luca Paolini's pink jersey.
The veteran Italian could also be a candidate for victory today.
Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole) was first to the top of the early climb after 35km and so took the points. However he has dropped out of the break.
To learn more about today's stage five, watch the special preview videos we've produced. Click here.
The gap to the break is down to six minutes now, with 125km to go.
The break has an international flavour: Tomas Gil is from Venezuela, Rafael Andriato is from Brazil, Brian Bulgac is from the Netherlands, Ricardo Mestre is from Portugal and Alan Marangoni is flying the flag for Italy.
It's just started raining here at the finish, doesn't look like it'll last though.....#giro
@daniellloyd1 Wed, 8th May 2013 13:34:13
It's raining hard in Matera.
The heavy rain is running across the road and under the finish area. It seems it is an isolated shower but long-term forecasts are also not good for next week. It could be a very wet Giro d'Italia.
The peloton is riding in the sun, perhaps unaware that the finish has turned into a river.
With the stage almost half done, the Katusha team of race leader Luca Paolini has moved off the front. Now it's up to the sprinters to take over if they want to catch the break.
Mark Cavenish's Omega Pharma-Quick Step team is now on the front, leading the chase, a sign that Cavendish thinks he has a chance of victory, despite the uphill finish.
Rafael Andriato (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) has won the second intermediate sprint in Rocca Imperiale.
There's a bit more urgency from the peloton now with Katusha being joined by a number of teams on the front as up ahead the rain starts to come down a little heavier on our breakaway riders.
The five leaders are working well together. The maglia rosa group slowing as they start to put on their rain jackets. Haas and Cavendish at the back, along with Blythe from BMC. The BMC sprinter looked in good form on stage 1 and marked Cavendish's wheel until the final 400 meters.
Paolini has called for his team car and drops to the very rear of the peloton.
Degenkolb has ordered his Argos Shimano teammates to move to the front. The rain is very heavy at the finish right now but the peloton still have around 65 km to go.
Team Sky have brought leader Bradley Wiggins closer to the front. He had drifted towards the back a few minutes ago but with the chase becoming more intense he's had to position himself further forward.
GreenEDGE have also shifted up a gear and moved into the lead of the peloton. Goss was a winner in the Giro last year and this is an ideal stage for him if he can get over the final two climbs. Degenkolb will really fancy his chances though.
60km to go and the gap is now at 5'50.
No sign of Cavendish's Omega Pharma QuickStep at this point. They're taking a back seat at the moment, forcing other teams to do the work. Cavendish has his stage win, he's putting pressure on the other sprinters' teams to do the work.
The skies have darkened overhead as the weather continues to deteriorate.
Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) is near the front. He's the local rider today, from Montalbano Jonico, just inland from where the race is passing now.
Italian TV is showing the heavy rain the riders are about to ride through.
The Orica-GreenEdge and Argos-Shimano teams are still doing the work up front, although other teams such as Movistar are doing their bit. Team Sky has Knees on the front, protecting their riders.
Several teams are taking advantage of the quiet before the storm to take on board rinks and food and drop off clothing.
The break seems to be running out of steam as the peloton accelerates behind. the gap is down to 2:45 with 40km to go .
There's a touch of blue sky ahead of the breakaway but it's still very wet at the finish in Matera.
Omega Pharma DS Luca Bramati has explained they rode to reduce the gap but have stopped working to stay together and hopefully help Cavendish stay at the front for the climb. They will decide their race tactics at the summit of the climb.
The speed is rising in the peloton as the teams try to position their sprinters and team leaders near the front for the climb.
Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge) has opened the turbo and is working hard to keep Goss and Howard out of trouble.
The break and the peloton sweep of the main road and are about to begin the climb to Montescaglioso.
It is only four kilometres long and climbs just 250m but it is expected to shakeout the peloton. Some teams will probably attack to distance Cavendish and other sprinters.
The climbs starts with Adriato being left behind from the break. The peloton is about to sweep up the attackers.
This first half of the climb is tough with a gradient of 9%.
Movistar has two riders on the front, working for Francisco Ventoso.
Behind the sprinters are falling off the back. Adam Blythe (BMC) Mattia Gavazzi (Androni Giocattoli) and Francesco Chicchi (Vini Fantini) have already been dropped.
The peloton snakes around a big roundabout on newly surfaced roads. That's just one reason why local residents love it when the Giro comes their way.
Pablo Lastras has moved off the front after a long turn on the front, Stefano Pirazzi is off the front, while Mark Cavendish is fighting to hang on, pushing a big gear. But he's very close to the back.
He's got to pace his ride and then use his teammates to get back on and up to the front for the sprint.
Cavendish has two teammates with him to help in an eventual chase. He has to fight for another kilometre.
Upfront Pirazzi takes five mountain points a few seconds ahead of Visconti, who wears the blue jersey.
Cav is zig-zgging up the steep part of the climb. We rarely see how he fights hard and suffers so he can contest the sprints.
The peloton is on the descent. Cavendish is about 20 seconds back and should get back on. But will he make it to the front for the sprint and will he have the strength to sprint?
Crash! Cobo (Movistar) goes down during the descent. He's having a terrible Giro.
Danny Pate (Team Sky) is at the back of the peloton, with teammate Knees, who did a lot of work earlier.
Bardiani Valvole is on the front chasing the attack.
Puncture for Uran! He gets a wheel and is quickly away. He should get back on with Mark Cavendish who is about to catch the peloton.
Today’s stage finish at Matera is notoriously tricky. It gets three stars out of five for difficulty in road book.
“It’s not at all easy,” says BMC’s Max Sciandri, who was racing the Giro in 2003 when Fabio Baldato won there.
“They were trying to set things up for [Alessandro] Petacchi and Fabio locked on behind to get the win and beat him in the sprint.”
“It’s big roads, it can bite some sprinters for sure. You do the last corners, left and left, and then in the last 800 metres it really kicks up. There’s a headwind today, which could make it more complicated.”
Sciandri predicts “some, but not all sprinters will get dropped. It’s difficult, visually it’s right there, but with that headwind and kicking up.”
“It’s always like that in the Giro, there’s always a little twist at the end.”
Wow, the helicopter has an amazing shot of ancient Matera. Sadly the race cannot finish there because it is protected by Unesco and is a World Heritage Site.
Lars Bak (Lotto Belisol) is in the move. He won a stage last year.
The trio has a six-second gap.
The road to Matera dips and tolls, making it difficult for Cavendish to get back on. It doesn't seem like he's going to make it back.
Indeed Cavendish has sat up. He's not too happy that other riders didn't help him.
Uran is chasing alone is about to get back on.
Danielson is also fighting to get back on after a mechanical
7 km left fast wheels are ready for the sprint / 7 km all'arrivo le ruote veloci sono pronte alla volata #giro
@giroditalia Wed, 8th May 2013 15:54:04
Matteo Rabottini (vini Fantini) goes off the front but is being pulled back.
Saxo-Tinkoff is on the front now, perhaps working for Bennati. Cavendish is more than 30 seconds off the pace now.
Evans, Scarponi and Wiggins are near the front, staying out of danger and perhaps thinking about sprinting for the time bonuses. There are 80 or so riders in the front group.
Hubert Dupont (Ag2r) has a go, pushing a big gear.
It seems that Matt Goss (Orica) is also in the Cavendish group behind.
Dupont has a handful of seconds as the gradual climb ends.
The roads are wet and so the final two corners inside the last km could be a danger point.
BMC lead the chase of Dupont and sweep him up.
Cannondale is working for Viviani, Battaglin is also there for Bardiani Valvole. Degenkolb is also there for Argos-Shimano.
Battaglin is leading the peloton, working for his teammates.
A few riders make it through the corner but most of the peloton is blocked or delayed.
Canola of Bardiani Valvole is clear but Degenkolb catches him and wins!
The rest of the peloton is spread down the road, with riders still getting back on their bikes after the crash.
An Argos-Shimano rider sparked the crash and went down hard. Luca Paolini (Katusha) just avoided the spill and so should keep the pink jersey.
A newly painted zebra-crossing seemed to have sparked the crash. A dozen or so riders went down, as they touched their brakes.
Provisional results show that Angel Vicioso (Katusha) was second and Paul Maertens (Blanco) third.
Luca Paolini (Katusha) kept the pink jersey.
John Degenkolb went deep to win today.
"It was a hard finish, especially the last kilometre. It was super fast and then there was the crash. I saw I had a gap and so I had to go full gas for the last 800 metres. I was empty when I hit the line but it's great to win," he said.
Degenkolb enjoys his moment on the podium, taking a long swig from the bottle of Astoria spumante.
Degenkolb just missed the crash on the corner. He was sixth wheel, took out his left foot to cut inside his teammate who went down and then managed to quickly get going again and power after Canola.
Wow, there's never a dull day at the Giro d'Italia, with attacks, crashes, drama and polemica.
We'll have a full race report, results, rider interviews, photo galleries on Cyclingnews very soon.
That's it for today's live coverage. Join us tomorrow for stage six from Mola to Margherita di Savoia in the heel of Italy, north of Bari.