The German won by several bike lengths ahead of Arnaud Demare (FDJ), Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) and Bob Jungels (Etixx-QuickStep), after coming from behind and avoiding a crash on a corner with 1.5km to go with Rein Taaramae (Katusha) loosing grip and sliding out. That disrupted several riders and their lead out train as riders took evasive action. Roberto Ferrari waited in vain for Lampre-Merida teammate Sacha Modolo and Colbrelli hesitated while on the front but that played perfectly into Greipel’s hands. He surged away in the final three hundred metres, winning by several bike lengths.
It was Greipel’s fourth victory at the Giro d’Italia and confirmed his consistency in the Grand Tour sprints. Greipel has now won at least a stage on every Grand Tour he has ridden since 2008.
Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) finished safely in the peloton and so kept the pink jersey. He now leads Jungels by 14 seconds, with stage four winner Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) third overall at 20 seconds. Surprisingly, Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) did not fight for the victory in the sprint after being distanced by the peloton with six kilometres. He suffered during the rolling 233km stage and finished 3:56 after sitting up during the finishing circuit.
“Chapeau to my teammates today,” Greipel said immediately after his victory. “It was hard for them to chase down the break but they continued to work for me even if the other teams didn’t help us. We had to gamble a little bit and in the end we used two more riders with Lars Bak and Wellens to chase the breakaway down. The others then kept me up front and I tried to stay up there on the final lap and Jurgen Roelandts did an amazing job from 5km to the final kilometre to keep me up there. Everybody slowed with about 400 metres to go and I thought if I see a gap then I’ll go through it. I saw the gap and I went through it and I gave everything I had in my legs.”
Dumoulin was happy to avoid the late crash. He was more concerned about Thursday’s 157km sixth stage is from Ponte to Roccaraso, the first mountain finish of this years’ race. “It was a really hard day, it was all up and down and it was fast with four guys in the break. Then in the final the speed was crazy,” he said.
“Now I really know what they mean by saying sprinting in Italy is different, it was incredible. It was so chaotic and really dangerous. I actually suffered in the final but I guess everyone did. Tomorrow going to be a tough finish and we’ll really find out how everyone form is. We’ll see what happens in the finale. The finish is not too hard. I am expecting not to lose too much time if I lose any.”
Giro d'Italia Stage 5 Video Highlights
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How it unfolded
The second longest stage of the Giro d’Italia was always going to be a tough day in the saddle, with 233km of racing and a rolling parcours in the countryside behind the Cilento national park and via Avellino.
The uphill start suggested there would be a fight to get in the early break of the day. However, the Nippo-Vini Fantini team of Damiano Cunego kept the peloton under control and led the peloton on the climb. Cunego reportedly shed a tear after climbing on the podium for the first time in 12 years to take the blue climber’s jersey yesterday and he was determined to keep the jersey today.
The orange and blue Nippo-Vini Fantini jerseys stood out on the front and guided Cunego to the summit where he took the sprint to the line and the seven points.
Just after, at the 40km point, the break formed when Daniel Oss (BMC), Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom), Amets Txurruka (Orica-GreenEdge), Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff) jumped away. As in previous stages, they allowed to go clear and quickly gained several minutes on the valley road. Their lead reached 6:30 at the halfway point of the stage, making Txurruka the virtual race leader. However, the peloton never let them gain further time, with Giant-Alpecin riding steady on the front.
The action happened behind; with first Omar Fraile (Dimension Data) quitting due to his injuries incurred a crash the other day. Later on, young and promising Italian sprinter Jakob Mareczko (Wilier-Southeast) also quit the race. He awoke with a fever this morning and had been struggling all stage.
The break lost impetus mid-way when Oss crashed on a sweeping curve. He slid off at speed and hit a metal pole but fortunately was not injured and got up and chased down his breakaway companions. He bravely raced on despite some nasty looking road rash.
Behind, the peloton rolled along steadily with the riders enjoying a relaxed atmosphere in the saddle. Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) rode at the back of the peloton, seemingly recovered from the stomach virus that affected him at