With stage 5 of the Giro d'Italia marked down as one for the sprinters, Orica-GreenEdge were looking to Caleb Ewan to open his account in Italy, so in order to take the burden off the team controlling the race, Amets Txurruka went up the road. The Basque climber was one four riders in the breakaway that were given a maximum advantage of six-and-a-half minutes before the sprinters team started to reel them in.
"We were waiting to see if a bigger group would escape in the first hour of the race," explained sports director Matt White of the team tactics for stage 5. "When that didn't happen we decided to send Amets (Txurruka) up there to see if we could make something stick and in the end it worked out well for us.
"They were away for nearly 200kilometres and the advantage that gives us is that we can conserve energy by not needing to get involved in trying to bring the breakaway back."
With six kilometres of the stage to race, the break was caught by the peloton which had made its way onto the twisty, cobbled finishing circuit in Benevento. Orica-GreenEdge shifted focus to delivering Ewan into prime position for the sprint and while the 21-year-old cracked the top-ten, to go with his seventh on stage 1, there was no stopping André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) as the German left his rivals in his wake.
"The sprint was really chaotic," added White. "There was a slight incline leading up to the line and it was always going to be difficult for Caleb (Ewan) to get out of the pack and try to break clear on the cobbled streets."
As the Giro continues to head north, after the re-start in Calabria following the Dutch Grande Partenza, the team will be backing Estaban Chaves for the first summit finish of the race which is expected to shake up the general classification. Chaves, 26, currently sits in 11th place and will be aiming to enter the top-ten overall for the first time with Txurruka and Ruben Plaza sure to be called upon for support up the climb to Roccaraso.
"We have the first mountain stage tomorrow and we are very satisfied with our position going into the first real test for the general classification contenders. Esteban (Chaves) rode well again today and finished up near the front so we did not lose any time or see any real positional changes," said White.
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