Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing) was on the sunny end of Geraint Thomas' bad luck Saturday at Tirreno-Adriatico, retaking the race lead from the Team Sky rider after Thomas suffered a mechanical near the end of stage 4 to Sarnano Sassotetto.
While Thomas sputtered with a dropped chain and ultimately lost 40 seconds to stage winner Mikel Landa (Movistar), Caruso finished 13th at the tail end of a group six seconds down and climbed back into the jersey he took on the opening day and then lost to teammate Paddy Bevin after the stage 2 sprint.
"I didn't really expect to be back in the leader's jersey at the end of today, but I did feel good on the last climb so I thought that I would able to do a really good race," Caruso said. "In the end, it was good because I took the jersey and that is a big result for me at the end of this stage. Tomorrow we have another hard stage, and we will see what happens."
Caruso now leads Thomas' teammate Michal Kwiatkowski by one second in the overall, while LottoNL-Jumbo's Wilco Kelderman is 11 seconds back. In all, there are still 15 riders within a minute of Caruso with three stages remaining, starting with Sunday's 178km route from Castelraimondo to Filottrano.
"With the race going up the Muro di Filottrano three times tomorrow, it will be a really hard stage," Caruso said. "I want to try to take opportunities with me and Greg Van Avermaet, and hopefully, the team can put me in a good position. For the moment, though, I want to enjoy today and this jersey, and we will just have to see what happens tomorrow."
BMC team director Max Sciandri was positive about Caruso's abilities to hang on over the next three days. First he has to get through Sunday's stage, followed by a 153km sprint stage from Numana to Fans and then Tuesday's final 10km individual time trial.
"We have been building up day by day with Damiano Caruso, and as we saw with Geraint Thomas today, anything can happen," Sciandri said. "But for us, everything is unfolding well and Damiano is in a good position. Tomorrow we will be on the defensive, and with Michal Kwiatkowski just one second behind, it's a bit dangerous. So, we will see what happens tomorrow."
Caruso's last win was a stage of Coppi e Bartali in 2013, but the 30-year-old Italian came close last year at Tour de Suisse, where he led the race for two days and finished second overall.
"Last year at the Tour de Suisse, I think Damiano did an incredible job," Sciandri said. "He is constantly maturing as a rider, and I have definitely pushed him a little bit here, but he has really taken it in the best of ways."
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