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Tirreno - Adriatico 2013: Stage 5


Stage 5 of Tirreno-Adriatico, 230km from Ortona to Chieti.

65km remaining from 230km

As we pick up the action, a group of eight riders has a lead of 6:40 over the peloton. Valerio Agnoli (Astana), Michael Schar (BMC), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida), Sebastian Langeveld (Orica Greenedge), Stijn Devolder (Radioshack), Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil) and Oscar Gatto (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) went away inside the first 20km after a rapid start to proceedings, and they are now on the approach to the day’s main difficulty, the Passo Lanciano.

Even though there were 230km on rolling roads to come, there was a very brisk pace from the outset this morning. The eight escapees (a ninth, Cesare Benedetti of Endura-NetApp, lost contact after narrowly avoiding a crash) covered 43.9km in the first hour of racing.

After 60km, their advantage was . On the subsequent climb to Forchetta di Palena, the lead stretched beyond seven minutes and Agnoli found himself the blue jersey on the road.

Cunego led over the top of the Forchetta di Palena after 91km, and the gap at that point was up to 8:15, but on the descent the Omega Pharma-QuickStep team of overall leader Michal Kwiatowski and the Sky team of favourite Chris Froome began to organise the pursuit.

Cannondale have also since put their shoulders to the wheel at the head of the peloton. They may no longer have any hopes of winning the race outright (Moreno Moser lost over six minutes at Prati di Tivo yesterday), but the men in lime green will certainly fancy their chances of claiming a stage win in Chieti this afternoon. Last year, one Peter Sagan took a rather insouciant victory in the hilltop town and he will fancy his chances of repeating the feat today.

The finale is cobbled and the climb to the line is a difficult one: 1.5km in length with an average gradient of 10.2% and stretches of 19%. With time bonuses of ten, six and four seconds on offer, it is the last realistic chance of a shake-up of the general classification ahead of the concluding time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto on Tuesday.

The general classification this morning was as follows:

1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 16:04:59
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:04
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:16
4 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:30
5 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:00:33
6 Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard 0:00:40
7 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 0:00:55
8 Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:04
9 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:01:16
10 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha
11 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:18
12 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling 0:01:27
13 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha 0:01:31
14 Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:01:36
15 Eros Capecchi (Ita) Movistar Team 0:01:45

52km remaining from 230km

The eight escapees have just come through the bonus sprint at Lettomanoppello at the foot of the Passo Lanciano, and for the record, Stijn Devolder (RadioShack Leopard) led them through.

On paper, the Passo Lanciano is the toughest climb of the race - 12km in length, and an average gradient of 8.6% with stretches at 13%. However, its summit comes some 40km to the finish, and any gains made on the way up might well be cancelled out on the long descent that follows.

50km remaining from 230km

Damiano Cunego has attacked on the early slopes of the Passo Lanciano and bid his breakaway companions adieu. The Lampre man is seeking an impresa this afternoon after falling by the wayside early on Prati di Tivo yesterday.

Cunego has some previous on the Passo Lanciano. In 2006, he was the last man to be dropped by a turbo-charged Ivan Basso on this climb at the Giro d'Italia. Basso would go on to wear pink in Milan and his name remains in the record books to this day. But of course, his dog's name appears in Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes' records from around the same time, which somewhat overshadows that Giro win, no?

47km remaining from 230km

Time checks have been a little bit sketchy so far today, but word is reaching us that Cunego's lead over the main peloton is 3:05 with 7km to go to the summit of the Passo Lanciano.

That main peloton has already been whittled down to just 40 riders by the forcing of Team Sky's men in black. It looks like a case of deja vu all over again after yesterday's startling exhibition.

The remnants of the break are scattered across the mountainside between Cunego and the Sky-led peloton. Devolder is battling to stay within sight of Cunego, Flecha et al are 30 seconds back, while Oscar Gatto has sat up and been swept up by the bunch.

Andy Schleck (RadioShack Leopard) has lost contact with the main peloton. He finished 12 minutes down in 74th place yesterday, but the Luxembourger will be happy simply to finish Tirreno-Adriatico and get some badly-needed racing miles in his legs. Schleck hasn't finished a stage race since the Circuit de la Sarthe last April.

43km remaining from 230km

Three kilometres from the summit of the Passo Lanciano and Cunego remains alone in front. His gap over Devolder has widened and he still has three minutes in hand on the Sky-led peloton.

42km remaining from 230km

Cunego has 1:33 in hand over Devolder, but the peloton has now closed to within 2:40 of the Italian.

39km remaining from 230km

Cunego crosses the summit of the Passo Lanciano alone at the head of the race. He now faces a 16km descent to Sant'Eufemia and then two climbs before the finish: the 1km-long drag up Via Fieramosca Anelli (with gradients of 14-16%) comes with 2.4km to go, before the final 1.5km haul up to the finish in Chieti.

Dario Cataldo, Sergio Henao and Chris Froome lead the peloton over the summit of the Passo Lanciano two minutes down on lone leader Damiano Cunego.

Incidentally, Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco) was an early faller on today's stage and was forced to abandon the race. The Belgian will have a scan in Antwerp tomorrow to assess the damage and to see if his classics campaign is in doubt. The pictorial evidence he posted on Twitter certainly does not look promising. "First news is that the bursa of my knee is torn. First days will decide if operation is needed. Tomorrow new research in Antwerp," Vanmarcke wrote. "The only thing I'm hoping is that the classics aren't over. Last 5 months were all focus and dedication, and then this shit happens..."


Oliver Kaisen (Lotto Belisol), Martin Reimer (MTN-Qhubeka) and Francesco Failli (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) have also abandoned today.

Meanwhile, Damiano Cunego's lead has been cut to 1:25 on the descent of the Lanciano, as Sky continue to control affairs in the main peloton.

That peloton is increasing in size once again, however. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and yesterday's surprise package Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) were distanced on the way up the Lanciano, but both men have since latched back on.

22km remaining from 230km

At the base of the descent of the Lanciano, Sky are continuing to pull on the front of the group of favourites, with Rigoberto Uran, Sergio Henao and Dario Cataldo still up there.

Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) was another man dropped on the way up the Lanciano, but he also appears to have made his way back up to the Froome group, which contains around 30 riders.

Race leader Michal Kwiatowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) is safely ensconced in the Sky group, sitting tightly on the wheel of Chris Froome. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) are also in there.

The pace has relaxed slightly in the Sky group, and Peter Sagan and Vincenzo Nibali are locked in conversation. Sagan is pointing at his calf, but he doesn't seem unduly concerned.

Joaquim Rodriguez, Dani Moreno (Katusha) and Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) are all in the blue jersey group, and all three men have shown their ability on steep finishes such as today's in Chieti. Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) is also there.

17km remaining from 230km

Cunego continues to plough his lone furrow at the front, and for now, the Sky quartet seem happy to keep his lead pegged at a shade over a minute.

This is the fourth year in succession that Chieti has hosted a stage finish at Tirreno-Adriatico. Michele Scarponi won in 2010 and 2011, while Sagan was triumphant twelve months ago.

Sky have some local knowledge on today's stage, of course. Dario Cataldo is a native of the province of Chieti and in fact hails from Lanciano itself, so he is very familiar with the roads this afternoon.

12km remaining from 230km

Cunego is putting up fierce resistance at the head of the race, 58 seconds ahead of the Sky-led bunch, but it's hard to imagine that he will survive the two sharp climbs that are still to come.

Cataldo leads Henao, Uran and Froome at the head of the chase group, while Tony Martin sits directly behind them with race leader Michal Kwiatowski on his wheel. Nibali has Paolo Tiralongo and Valerio Agnoli for company in the group.

10km remaining from 230km

Asked by RAI to explain Damiano Cunego's attack, Lampre-Merida directeur sportif Guido Bontempi said: "We tried to inject some fantasia into the race, but with this long valley after the Lanciano, it's very difficult."

9km remaining from 230km

Cunego's lead is now 56 seconds as Sky begin to lift the pace once again behind.

Cannondale have three riders and two options in the chase group. Damiano Caruso will ride in support of Peter Sagan and Moreno Moser.

7km remaining from 230km

Cunego's effort is beginning to tell on an uphill drag before the beginning of the climb to via Salomone proper.

6km remaining from 230km

Damiano Cunego is caught by the Sky-led bunch. The Sky quartet are upping the tempo on this uphill section, and Moreno Moser is struggling to hang on.

6km remaining from 230km

Sergio Henao takes over from Dario Cataldo on the false flat, as Sky continue their forcing.

Contador and Nibali are out of the saddle and the Sky tempo is beginning to cause problems. Peter Sagan is dropping down the line of riders.

5km remaining from 230km

Peter Sagan has been dropped by the Sky group and he appears to have cracked.

Sagan was dropped on a steep section, and while the road has flattened out slightly since, the Slovak looked to be in real difficulties.

5km remaining from 230km

Kwiatowski, Contador, Roman Kreuziger, Horner, Dan Martin, Santambrogio are all still in this group, which has been reduced to 15 riders or so.

5km remaining from 230km

Contador attacks in a bid to take the bonus seconds atop the climb and Froome and Nibali are straight onto his wheel.

Kreuziger and Horner have also come across. These five riders will fight it out for the bonus seconds.

4km remaining from 230km

Contador led Nibali and Froome at the top of the climb to take the three-second bonus, and on the descent his teammate Roman Kreuziger has slipped clear.

3km remaining from 230km

Andrey Amador (Movistar) has made it across to Kreuziger at the front of the race, and the pair have a handful of seconds over the Froome-Contador-Nibali group, which has reformed behind.

2km remaining from 230km

Kreuziger and Amador have 100 metres of an advantage on the approach to the final climb.

Henao and Uran are taking up the chase in the group of favourites, however, and the gap is melting.

1km remaining from 230km

Henao continues to lead the group, with Froome, Uran, Nibali, Kwiatowski, Rodriguez and Contador all still there. Dan Martin is trying to hang on.

1km remaining from 230km

Michal Kwiatowski is at the rear of the group as the final climb begins in earnest.

1km remaining from 230km

As the road stiffens to 15%, Joaquim Rodriguez accelerates and opens a small gap. Froome leads the chase at a steady pace with Contador on his wheel.

Nibali has been dropped by the Froome group.

1km remaining from 230km

Rodriguez comes over the top of the climb with a 5-second lead over the Froome-Contador group, but the road kicks up again before the finish.

Rodriguez has a lead of 100 metres over a six-man group that includes Contador and Froome. He is set for stage victory.

Contador accelerates from the group behind but Froome follows.

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) wins stage 5 of Tirreno-Adriatico.

Bauke Mollema (Blanco) out-sprints Contador for second, 9 seconds later. They were just ahead of Froome, Santambrogio and Horner.

Nibali crosses the line a couple of seconds behind Froome and Contador. Froome will move into the overall lead tonight as Kwiatowski was distanced on the final climb and lost almost 40 seconds.

Rodriguez timed his effort perfectly there. He attacked on the steepest section of the climb with 1400 metres to go after Froome and Contador had attempted to crack one another in the finale, and then he stretched out his advantage as the road flattened out in the final kilometre.

It was a successful day, too, for Team Sky, who managed - finally - to shed themselves of Kwiatowski in the finale. Contador pegged back a few seconds on Froome in time bonuses, but it looks as though Froome will go into the final two days with 20 seconds in hand on Contador and Nibali at the head of the general classification.


1 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 6:06:43
2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 0:00:08
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
4 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
5 Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard
6 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling
7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:17
8 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 0:00:22
9 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
10 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp 0:00:28

General classification:

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 22:11:53
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:20
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team

General classification:

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 22:11:53
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:20
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
4 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:00:24
5 Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard 0:00:37
6 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 0:00:52
7 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 0:00:55
8 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:00:57
9 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:01:27
10 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling 0:01:51

Thanks for joining us for today's live coverage of Tirreno-Adriatico. We'll be back with more tomorrow, but in the meantime, stay tuned to Cyclingnews for a full report, results and pictures here and for all the Tirreno news from our man in Italy, Stephen Farrand. And of course, you can also follow the finale of Paris-Nice with Dan Benson right here. Slán go fóill.


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