It was Yukiya Arashiro's acceleration with 1.2km to go that made the three-man breakaway of stage 5 in the Giro d'Italia a success. As the leading trio were on the verge of being swept up by the peloton, the 25-year-old BBox Bouygues Telecom rider breathed new life into a seemingly doomed escape.
"Before the second to last curve, I saw the peloton wasn't far behind," Arashiro said. "That's why I accelerated. But [Jérôme] Pineau came on my wheel, and also the Cofidis rider [Julien Fouchard]. Without my move, we would have been caught."
Arashiro told Cyclingnews on the start line in Novara: "My condition is good, so I'm gonna make a breakaway today." So he did. But he never believed it would be a successful one until the race approached the finishing town of Novi Ligure. "There was a small hill close to the finish," Arashiro said. "I gave it my all there in order to gain some time."
Arashiro was thrilled in the finale. "I was thinking of all the Japanese people who are watching the Giro d'Italia on J-Sport," he said. "This was my main source of motivation. I could imagine everyone in Japan shouting while I accelerated towards the finish. It gave me a lot of strength."
Arashiro is now experienced enough to know how to make a breakaway a success. "Had we taken too big of a lead too early, it would have made the bunch chase earlier, so we set a slower tempo than what we could have done for a while," said the rider from Okinawa. Pineau added: "The success of this breakaway isn't just pure luck. We rode almost at 60km/h during the last 15 kilometres."
When he rode for the Continental Japanese team Meitan-Hompo, Arashiro was known for his numerous breakaways. "Last year the Tour de France was my first chance for riding a Grand Tour but I never managed to enter a breakaway," he said, although he made the record books for finishing fifth in stage 2 in a bunch sprint finish. "Therefore, I'm happy to at least have been able to break away here at the Giro. But we have only done five days. You'll see me again at the front."