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HTC-Columbia director credits Giro break

Stage five winner Jerome Pineau (Quick Step) uncorks some bubbly after his first Grand Tour victory.

Stage five winner Jerome Pineau (Quick Step) uncorks some bubbly after his first Grand Tour victory. (Image credit: Sirotti)

Stage 5 was a missed opportunity for sprinters to win at the Giro d'Italia. Losing teams like Lampre, HTC-Columbia, and Garmin-Transitions, blamed each other for not having closed the gap to breakaway riders Yukiya Arashiro, Julien Fouchard and stage winner Jérôme Pineau.

"What can I say? We chased as well," a visibly angry Andre Greipel said at the finish. HTC-Columbia directeur sportif Valerio Piva explained: "Lampre controlled it most of the time. If you pull the bunch and bring the gap down to three minutes, it means you want to make it but you put yourself in difficulty because who would come and help? He [Lampre DS Fabrio Bontempi] never came and asked for help. We have contributed to the chase with 60km to go. Garmin also did."

It came down to the usual dilemma. "If you close the gap too quickly, there is a risk of another attack," Piva added. "Some people say the ear pieces control the race. Today is the proof that it's not the case if the guys have the legs to stay away. It's their merit to have done it. They have been underestimated."

Katusha's Robbie McEwen agreed, praising the trio despite denying the Australian of a potential stage win. "The guys in front did a superb job to stay away," he said. "Lampre pulled, HTC pulled, Liquigas was riding during the day. We did a little bit at the end. Garmin had a couple of guys there. There was enough people working but the guys in the front were just too strong. The pace was on the whole day."

The Australian sprinter pointed to a miscalculation in the race manual. "Everyone underestimated the finishing circuit," he said. "It was nothing like in the book. The book said it was one small hill with 30 metres difference but we had about 10 hills on that circuit. The profile was not even close."

Lampre's team manager Giuseppe Saronni added: "We don't have the capacity to keep the race under control but also a super team like HTC doesn't. The reason why we haven't won a stage yet is because all the finishes have been special but Alessandro Petacchi's mood is good, so we hope for the best soon."

Stage 6 finishes in Marina di Carrara very close to Petacchi's home and the finale is more suitable for sprinters than any of the previous stages. But the Italian sprinter reckons the climb of Spolverina with 28 kilometres to go might be too difficult to envisage a bunch gallop on the Tyrrhenian coast.

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