Buongiorno and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage five of the Giro d'Italia from Taranto to Viggiano. The stage ends with a five-kilometre climb to Viggiano.
Hello from Italy as the minutes count down to the start of stage five of the Giro d'Italia.
The 203km stage starts at 12:00 local time in Taranto.
The riders are signing on in with a view across the Taranto sea-front. There's a strong breeze blowing but the roads are dry.
The stage hosts the first real hills of this year's Giro d'Italia, with the 8km Valico di Serra di San Chirico after 130km and then the climb to Viggiano.
The climb is 5km long and is covered twice, with a twisting descent in between. The climb to the finish includes a section at 8%.
The riders are currently lining up in Taranto after signing on.
Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) starts in the leader's pink jersey but has admitted he expects to lose it in Viggiano.
The overall contenders and stage hunters are expected to fight for victory, with riders such as Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) fighting for the stage victory and the time bonuses.
Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) wears the red points jersey today after his victory in Bari and the retirement of Marcel Kittel.
And they're off! The flag has been dropped and riders have rolled out of Taranto.
The face a 5km transfer before the racing begins.
The wind could be a factor today, especially early in the race, as the stage passes near the Ionian coast.
The strong wind could also make for a hard stage of racing.
The domestiques will have to work hard to protect their team leaders.
The stage finishes in the Basilicata region, in the heel of Italy.
Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) is the local rider of the stage. He lives in Montalbano Jonico that hosts the first intermediate sprint after 70km.
He knows the climb to the finish in Viggiano well and predicts a group of 30 riders will fight for victory.
Barry Ryan interviewed Pozzovivo for Cyclingnews, mixing the history of Italy and Pozzovivo's career to explain the problems of the south of Italy and the Basilicata region.
It's a great read. Click here to see the interview.
The race is now underway and following the coast in the heel of Italy.
Italian rider Giorgio Cecchinel (Neri Sottoli) is fighting a fever but he apparently started the stage. He was in the break of the day on stage three to Dublin.
Tuesday's stage to Bari was the last chance for the sprinters until Friday's seventh stage to Foligno in central Italy.
Thursday's stage is also for the climbers, with a finish at Montecassino, near Naples.
Thanks to its geographic location, Cassino has always played an important role. It was nearly totally destroyed by the Allies in the spring of 1944 and the 70th anniversary
of the destruction of the “City of Martyrs” will be celebrated this year.
We're getting reports that an 11-rider breakaway has formed in the early kilometres of the stage.
To read about Bouhanni's stage victory in Bari and how he survived the slippery roads, click here.
The report also includes a huge photo gallery.
We have some interesting names in the break, including Ben Swift (Team Sky) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp).
The 11 riders in the break are: Elia Viviani (Cannondale), Ben Swift (Team Sky), Tyler Farrar and Fabian Wegmann (Garmin-Sharp), Miguel Angel Rubiano (Colombia), Tony Hurel and Bjorn Thurau (Europcar), Marco Frapporti (Androni Giocattoli), Yonathan Monsalve (Neri Sottoli), Kenny Dehaes and Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Belisol).
178km remaining from 203km
The 11 have opened a gap of 1:50 after 25km of racing.
11 is a big break and so it will be interesting to see if another team picks up the chase to target the stage victory.
In theory the Orica-GreenEdge team should set the tempo in the first half of the stage because Michael Matthews is the race leader. However the young Australian sprinter has admitted he will loose the jersey on the climb to Viggiano and so Orica may leave the chasing to other teams.
This may help the break stay away today.
Both Viviani and Swift are chasing points for the red points jersey. It will be interesting to see if they sit up after the sprint after 70km.
After 40km the lead of the break is up to 3:30.
The wins is blowing against the direction of the race, making hard for the riders. It is also windy at the finish in Viggiano in the hills of Basilicata. Today's stage will not be easy for anyone in the race.
150km remaining from 203km
The break is working hard to establish a good lead on the peloton. The gap is now up to 4:00.
143km remaining from 203km
The break is nearing the first intermediate sprint. We can expect a battle between Viviani and Swift but the road climbs up to Montalbano Jonico so it won't be easy for any of the 11 riders.
Ben Swift (Team Sky) is in the break. He told Cyclingnews in an exclusive video interview that he wants a stage victory at this year's Giro d'Italia.
Watch the interview here.
Fabian Wegmann (Garmin-Sharp) is also in the break and Cyclnignews spoke to him after stage four to Bari. He predicted that Farrar could do something ans is working hard to try to make it happen.
Watch the Wegmann interview here.
138km remaining from 203km
After 65km along the Ionian coast, the breakaway has turned inland. The sprint is just 5km away.
Cyclingnews will have exclusive videos from every day of the Giro d'Italia.
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The break is two kilometres from the sprint, with their lead now up to 5:00.
The strong wind has slowed the speed of the race, with the riders currently 15 minutes behind the slowest schedule, meaning the stage cold end after 5:30 local time.
We have the results of the intermediate sprint. Swift won it ahead of Viviani and Farrar. That makes Swift the new virtual red jersey.
With Kittel out of the race the fight for the points jersey could well come down to Swift and Viviani. Both riders will be on the hunt for the stage today as well. Both riders know each other so well from their track racing back grounds as well.
111km remaining from 203km
Just over 110km of racing remaining and the gap to the peloton is starting to fall.
The gap is down to 3'50: A combination of the leaders taking their foot of the gas slightly and the peloton starting to increase their pace.
Sun at the finish but there's some clouds overhead to as the gap between the break and the peloton begins to fall.
The wind continues though, it's very blustery out there at the moment and it's likely to stay like that all day. We've 97km to go and the 11-man break have Orica GreenEDGE leading the chase.
The Australian WorldTour team have Team Sky sitting just behind them.
Belletti has been in the wars during the race and right now the Italian is riding back through the cars.
Another rider with a problem is Rabottini who needs a new front wheel due to a puncture. The gap to the break is now at 2'20.
Savio is now driving alongside his man in the break, offering him some advice. He'll be relying that the peloton are coming back. The peloton have slowed again though and the gap to the break moves back out to 3'20.
Matthews has been in pink for a few days now but today there's bit of extra pressure on him as he's targetted today's finish. He's got the form, and his result in his first Amstel Gold earlier in the spring - he cracked the top 20 - shows that he has the staying power.
A number of riders in the bunch are swinging off for a comfort break as up ahead Swift takes his turn on the front of the move.
At the back of the field is Canadian Ryder Hesjedal. The 2012 race winner has already lost a lot of time due to the TTT.
80km remaining from 203km
80km to go and the gap is back up to four minutes. The bunch are just holding the break at the moment.
Now into the final 70km of racing. The break maintain their advantage of around four minutes with the break still working well. The peloton hold all the cards although Orica will need help from other teams at some point.
The gap slips down to 3'33 now with the leading group starting to climb.
The break are on the lower slopes of the first climb. It's the first real climb of the Giro so far, although we've had a few fourth cats already. 67km to go.
Katusha, Tinkoff, BMC and Sky have all moved up to the front of the peloton as they set themselves for the climb.
The leader are now approaching to the top of the climb and there's going to be a battle for the KOM. They round around hairpin on this third cat climb with Thurau on the front.
The Europcar rider opens up the sprint.
He drags four riders with him.
It looks like Rubiano takes 7 points. Thurau was fourth I believe. Wegmann third.
Belkov has a problem, his back wheel locking up as he drops a rain jacket in it. He slides to a halt but should be fine. The peloton crest the top of the climb at 3'00.
It's all Orica on the front though as they control the field for Matthews. They're doing a lot of the work in this first week as they hold the race lead.
A few spots of rain starting to fall as the peloton line out on the descent.
The rain eases off almost instantly as up ahead the break reach the valley leading towards the final climb, which they'll do twice today.
Swift is calling for the team car. We spoke to him yesterday and he told CN that he was looking to win today's stage. You can watch the video interview, right here.
The gap between the peloton is at 2'42. Tinkoff have brought Roche up to the front of the bunch, and Sky have done the same with Cataldo.
The gap has dropped dramatically and it's at 1'20.
And Van der Sande has attacked, showing that the harmony in the break has broken. There's still a long way to go until the finish so there's very little of chance of this move working.
Roughly 20km to go before the next climb. It's all Orica on the front at the moment with 43km to go until the finish. The Australian team still haven't had much help but that might all change when they reach the foot of the climb. The gap to the break is at 1'16.
Van der Sande was caught but has jumped out from the lead group once again. Hats off to him for animating the race at this stage.
Thurau and Frapporti have joined him.
Matthews meanwhile is back with the teams cars. His team are still on the front but have eased up slightly.
The break come back together and now it's De Haes who attacks.
The break are slowing, the bunch are slowing. It's a real game of cat and mouse at the moment with Orica still pulling all the strings. Cannondale have appeared on the shoulders of the Australian team though as up the road Wegmann ups the pace.
34km remaining from 203km
The bunch let the gap go out once more, it's slipped to 1'55 as BMC drop back to pace Cadel Evans to the front of the action. The former world champion looks relaxed but he needs to pay attention today. The climb isn't super tough but the GC riders, like Evans, need to make sure they don't make any mistakes.
We're into the final 30km of racing and the peloton spread out over a wide section of road. Local favourite Pozzovivo is near the back of the field for now.
Attacks galore in the lead group with Farrar in the thick of the action. It all comes back, however, with the peloton at one minute.
The long flat section of road favours the bunch, as BMC drop Evans off near the head of afairs. There's another four man group clear with De Haes, Thurau both in contention. Evans has Scarponi on his wheel for now.
Into the final 25km of racing, and two climbs still to come. The peloton are just 53 seconds down on the break, which has split into two.
Seven riders from the original break have been caught, leaving just four riders up the road.
It's Omega Pharma who set the pace now, with Giant Shimano also in contention. The gap to the four leaders is less than 25 seconds.
There's a bit of a cross-wind here and Giant and Omega are looking to take advantage of the situation. Uran is well placed here and Tinkoff have spotted the danger and along with Lampre, have moved up.
The gap to the four leaders is infact 46 seconds with 20km to go. Frapporti is also in the break. And they've started the penultimate climb.
The bunch navigate a roundabout and the gap is at 36 seconds.
There are plenty of riders struggling at the back of the bunch with the pace increasing with every pedal stroke. Wegmann has been dropped and now the rain has started. This could be crucial on the technical descent before the final climb.
The climb the Viggiano twice and a number of riders have sat up. Only Thurau remains on the attack.
And it looks like Petrov has crashed. A number of riders have fallen. Just as the rain starts.
They're all up and riding again but that's a warning sign, and now Evans orders his men to the front. BMC are now setting the pace.
Into the last 15km of racing and the rain is really falling now. Deignan was caught up behind the crash but Evans has hit the front at just the right time with his BMC team.
Will the race be nullified on the descent? there's talk of that on race radio.
Pozzovivo has been caught up in the fall to and has been forced to chase.
Riders all over the road but more riders are coming back into contention. The field are about to crest the top of the climb for the first time. Sanchez is off the back too. Evans has enough support for now though.
Over the line for the first time. Basso is there, Roche too, Cataldo, Evans, Uran.
Rodriguez is there. Sanchez has made it back and now the descent will start. Not seen Quintana yet but he should be in there.
Rain jackets are being put on my some riders. Will they knock the pace off? Well Evans isnt taking any risks and he's on second wheel with one teammate infront of him. Scarponi and Uran are close by.
Monfort is there and Moreno. Katusah lead over the top of the climb and now we're onto the descent. It's very technical with a number of tight corners. The roads are wet and we've already seen crashes. The tension is really starting to build.
Thurau was caught during all that action, so the field is back together.
Gasparotto has fallen, according to race radio.
We're into the final 10km.
They make it through one tight bend safely.
A lot of nervous riders, some are willing to race and some gaps are opening.
8.8km to go and Paolini is right near the back and with Duarte on his wheel.
There's one rider currently clear. I think he's from Omega but cant' tell with all the rain. Yes, it's Brambilla.
Matthews is in the main field and there's a crash for an Astana rider.
It's Landa on the deck.
His front wheel goes on one of the tight bends that litter this descent.
Brambilla is still clear of the field.
And now a Trek rider crashes. Just near the end of the descent. It's Felline.
The bunch make it through the descent and now Malacarne attacks and tries to catch Brambilla.
The Omega rider is giving it everything and has 5km to go until the finish. Malacarne, a former Omega rider, is trying to close him down.
The bunch are at around 10-15 seconds.
The Europcar rider is about to caught by the peloton.
The lone leader has 28 seconds on the peloton. He could move into pink at this rate.
Sky are leading the chase now from the peloton and Rolland has a little dig but it's not going to work. Brambilla has 18 seconds with 3km to go. This could be very close but here come Katusha.
The peloton are down to less than 50 riders.
Katusha are winding it up for Rodriguez. Matthews is still there. Hesjedal too.
Brambillia is still clear, but his lead is dropping.
The gap is down to 9 seconds now.
And the catch has been made.
Into the final 1000m.
And there's an attack from Roche.
Katusha close it down right away.
800 to go.
Boasson Hagen is there in fourth. Katusha lead.
Matthews is chasing with everything he has.
Rodriguez is on the front and here comes Evans.
Rodriguez looks back and then starts his sprint.
But out of no where comes Diego Ulissi. He's going clear and Rodriguez doesn't have the legs.
The Lampre rider takes the win by quite a clear margin.
The top three:
1 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
3 Julian David Arredondo Moreno (Col) Trek Factory Racing
Rodriguez had to go early but Ulissi was just too good. Matthews was in the mix. Uran was fourth. We'll have to wait for confirmation but Matthews should hold pink.
1 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 5:12:39
2 Julian David Arredondo Moreno (Col) Trek Factory Racing 0:00:01
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
4 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
5 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo
6 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica Greenedge
7 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha
8 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
9 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
10 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team
General classification after stage 5
1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica Greenedge 17:41:23
2 Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica Greenedge 0:00:14
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:15
4 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:00:19
5 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:26
6 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky 0:00:35
7 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:37
8 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:41
9 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Team Sky 0:00:49
10 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:52
So a great day for Lampre and Ulissi. Matthews holds onto his maglia rosa after a gritty ride on the final climb. Evans moves up, and ahead of Uran in GC too.
Thanks for joining us today. You can find our race report, images, results and news, right here.
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