Stage 5 report: Ewan glory, Landa grief
Caleb Ewan powered through the traffic to beat Giacomo Nizzolo in Stage 5 of the Giro d’Italia after a chaotic finish to an otherwise pedestrian stage saw Mikel Landa crash out and ended the general classification chances of Pavel Sivakov.
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Mikel Landa out of the Giro d'Italia
That's a sorry image: the Bahrain-Victorious teammates of Mikel Landa riding up the home straight on their own and without their leader. We can only conclude that the Spanish climber will not be continuing this race after that horrific fall. Joe Dombrowski, yesterday's stage winner and the man in blue, did manage to complete the stage. We'll keep you posted...
Victory for Caleb Ewan!
Tim Merlier unclipped at the wrong moment just as it all kicked off... Giacomo Nizzolo launched first and went clear with Elia Viviani but the Australian had a late surge to pip Nizzolo on the line. That was a chaotic finish after a horrific run into Cattolica. It will take a long time for the dust to settle but for now all we know is that Caleb Ewan is today's winner... and that's an eleventh second place on the Giro for Nizzolo, the European champion.
The pack is all strung out as it negotiates the final bend ahead of this long home straight. It's Daniel Oss of Bora doing the honours on the front for Sagan...
2km to go: Lotto, Bora and Trek on the front
It's the teams of Ewan, Sagan and Moschetti who are on the front - but both Gaviria and Viviani are in the mix too, as are Merlier and Groenewegen. Still can't get over that Landa crash - we didn't see it, just the aftermath, but he's still down and he will not continue today.
4.5km to go: big crash! Landa down!
Oh no! Mikel Landa is in serious trouble... He's gone down after a collision with a piece of road furniture... that's his race over... Joe Dombrowski, yesterday's winner and in the blue jersey, is also down - and another rider. What a terrible sight.
5km to go: tension continues
Gougeard had the right idea of getting out of the pack before all this tension set in. He may be caught - he will be caught - but at least he's not sprawled across the tarmac or fighting back on. The gap is still 15 seconds and it's getting very stressful and fiesty at the front of the pack.
9km to go: another crash...
Two riders go down after a tight right-hander and, while nothing near as bad as that Sivakov incident, that happened near the front and has caused a huge split in the peloton because so many riders were caught behind that incident. The three leaders, meanwhile, still have 10 seconds to play with.
10km to go: Sivakov's race over?
The youngster is soft-pedalling alongside the Ineos team car and when Jhonatan Narvaez comes back to help pace him, he waves the Ecuadorian on - perhaps a sign that his days in this race are over. His GC bid is certainly over after that heavy tumble. A big blow for Egan Bernal and Ineos.
15km to go: Sivakov hits the deck!
Oh no! Nasty fall for Pavel Sivakov of Ineos Grenadiers, who runs out of road, clips a tree branch and goes down hard on his shoulder. That happened when an EF Education-Nippo rider seemed to veer into the Ineos train on the left-hand side of the road - and the Franco-Russian looks to be in a world of pain. He's back on his bike but riding very gingerly and that's his GC hopes over.
When Cipo beat Binda's record
I'll tell you who would have loved this finish today... Mario Cipollini and his legendary 'red train' at Saeco...
Alfredo Binda’s record of 41 stage wins in the Giro stood for 70 years, until Super Mario went one better. With a flair for the flamboyant and a penchant for the beach, Cipo made headlines and history but few friends during his controversial career. In this Re-Cycle feature, I grabs the tail of the legend of the Lion King.
20km to go: two becomes three out ahead
Frenchman Alexis Gougeard has clearly been studying the roadbook... the Ag2R-Citroen rider catches the peloton napping with a sudden surge as the riders enter the Adriatic coastal resort of Rimini - and this allows him to negotiate a series of tricky turns and narrow bottlenecks with much more agility than a mass of 170 riders. Gougeard then bridges over to the two leaders so we have a leading trio now - albeit one with only 15 seconds to play with.
Don't forget Sagan or Nizzolo
I've been through most of the contenders for the sprint so far but have failed to mention the former triple world champion, Peter Sagan. He came fifth in stage 2 and then third one day later. While he can't be discounted, he's not a pure sprinter and may struggle to keep up with the fast men.
As for the European champion Nizzolo, he's yet to pick up a win on his national tour despite finishing runner-up on numerous occasions. Could the Qhubeka-ASSOS rider finally get that monkey off his back today? Other Italians to watch are Davide Cimolai of Israel Start-Up Nation (who came second two days ago) and Matteo Moschetti of Trek-Segafredo.
30km to go: storm clouds gather
The blue sky and sunshine which ushered in this stage have disappeared and it looks like there could well be a downpour before the finish. Our two leaders still have around 30 seconds to play for as the teams of the biog GC favourites crowd the front of the pack to keep their leaders out of trouble as the riders approach Rimini and the Adriatic coast.
40km to go: Gabburo wins sprint
It's the Bardiani rider who takes the cash prize and some bonus seconds at the second intermediate sprint - a slight blow for Pellaud, who is currently leading the intermediate sprint classification (not that he seems too bothered). This duo still has 45 seconds on the pack as two more Bardiani riders - Filippo Fiorelli and Giovanni Visconti - dart clear to take more points and cash prizes for the pot ahead of Thomas De Gendt.
Gaviria or Groenewegen glory?
Few would begrudge a comeback win for the Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen after all he's been through. Admittedly, he did barge Fabio Jakobsen into the barriers in the Tour of Poland - almost ending the Belgian's career and seriously threatening his life - but his treatment since that incident has been fairly shocking.
Merlier to double up?
The most sensible rider to back is the one who won the first time round... Tim Merlier took his maiden Grand Tour stage at the first possible moment in stage 2 - just down the road from the base of his Alpecin-Fenix team. He's had a solid season with wins spread through the spring and really did win in Novara at a canter.
The gap is under a minute now for Pellaid and Gabburo as they approach the 50km mark.
60km to go: Viviani's need for a victory
Elia Viviani hasn't won a Grand Tour stage since the 2019 Tour de France and his last win in the Giro came in 2018. He finally opened up his account for Cofidis at Cholet-Pays de la Loire in March after a winless opening campaign at the French team following his move from Quick-Step. Viviani came third in Novara and fourth in Canale so he's been knocking on the door. It today the day he passes through into the winner's enclosure?
Meanwhile, our two leaders have 1'20" on the pack.
68km to go: finally, an attack!
For a second it looked like we were being shown repeats of the initial breakaway because, once again, it's a rider apiece from Bardiani-CSF and Androni Giocattoli who have managed to extricate themselves from the pack. It's that man Simon Pellaud, the Swiss breakaway specialist, for Androni, and he's joined by the Italian Davide Gabburo of Bardiani. It's a suicide move but it will help pass the time for both men - and the viewers at home. It will be interesting to see how much rope they're given from the pack.
75km to go: No change... Ewan favourite?
Still no action from the pack after those two escapees were reeled in. We didn't see Caleb Ewan in the sprint at Imola - the Australian keeping his powder dry for the finish. He was a disappointing 10th in the previous bunch sprint in stage 2 but surely the Lotto Soudal pocket-rocket will be in the hunt for a fourth career stage win at the Giro today. The 26-year-old hasn't won since his victory in the final stage of the UAE Tour in February - although he was a commendable runner-up in Milan-Sanremo and would have won were it not for Jasper Stuyven's late attack after the Poggio.
95km to go: peloton paralysis
The race trundles along as one with no one brave/stupid enough to have a go at forming the day's second breakaway ahead of what will surely be a bunch sprint in Cattolica. The road is really wide now and the riders are using the entire width. Cameron Meyer, the Australian national champion, is putting on a sleeveless gilet so perhaps it's getting a bit cooler... and from one moto camera it seems like there are some rain drops - although it doesn't look wet out there, it's fair to say, and there are no umbrellas out, so perhaps that is just some spray or dirt.
Fortunato knocks once at every man's door
Here was that magic moment that local rider Lorenzo Fortunato was allowed to ride clear to greet his friends and family as the peloton passed through Bologna from earlier in the stage.
Fortunato rides ahead of peloton to soak up brilliant Bologna reception
Meanwhile, on Shark watch...
Former Giro champion shooting the breeze with the next Giro champion? It remains to be seen - but Egan Bernal certainly looked good yesterday, and took 34 seconds from Nibali and some of the other GC favourites.
105km to go: gruppo compatto
It's all back together! That two-man break - who once had a lead of five minutes - have been caught. So, this fairly pedestrian stage enters its next phase - and we will soon see if the predicted wind plays a part in proceedings. Will we see another breakaway go or will the peloton just ride as one to the finish?
106km to go: Tagliani wins sprint
It's Filippo Tagliani who beats compatriot Umberto Marengo to take the intermediate spint at Imola. And when the peloton comes through half a minute later it's Gaviria who pips Merlier and Viviani for third place ahead of Sagan, who was slightly distanced. No showing for Ewan there - although he's here for stage wins and not the maglia ciclamino. Indeed, the Australian is likely to withdraw before the mountains so he can focus on his Tour de France build-up.
108km to go: roundabout bungle
The pace is so high in the peloton that the gap for the two leaders has been slashed to under a minute ahead of the sprint! At this rate, they'll be caught before the intermediate sprint and all the points will be up for grabs...
But then the peloton comes to a roundabout - and it's only Lotto Soudal and a number of other riders who enter it on the correct left-hand side, with the remainder of the front of the peloton going the long way round and missing out. That could just about save the two escapees.
115km to go: intermediate sprint approaching
The two leaders have only three minutes to play with now as they approach Imola and the first intermediate sprint. As there are only two riders up the road, there will be a lot of points still up for grabs for the maglia ciclamino contenders - which is why we are now seeing the teams of the sprinters edge forward and up the tempo as De Marchi's Israel Start-Up Nation take a step back.
132km to go: Fortunato favours the brave
That's a nice moment for debutant Lorenzo Fortunato of EOLO-Kometa who is allowed to ride ahead of the peloton to greet his family and friends on the outskirts of Bologna. The 25-year-old is a second-year pro still looking for a maiden win. The easing up of the pace has allowed the two leaders to stretch their advantage up to the five-minute mark.
Magni biting the pain away
The last time the Giro d'Italia came to Bologna was in 2019 with an opening day time trial up the nearby climb of Madonna di San Luca, which was won by Primoz Roglic. Used sparingly, the punchy climb to the San Luca Sanctuary above Bologna has nevertheless hosted some key moments in Giro history – from Fiorenzo Magni's grimacing heroics (biting down on an inner tube to ease the pain of a broken collarbone) to Simon Gerrans dropping a pre-breakthrough Chris Froome in 2009.
Here's a link to the Re-Cycle historical piece I wrote on this two years ago...
Surely one for the sprinters?
We haven't seen a bunch sprint since Sunday's second stage, won by the Belgian debutant Tim Merlier for Alpecin-Fenix. It's almost inconceivable to think of a different scenario for today's finish at Cattolica given the lack of climbs and rain which thwarted the sprinters' teams on Monday, when that man Taco van der Hoorn defied the chasing pack to hold on to a historic win from the break.
Merlier will no doubt be in the mix today alongside the likes of Caleb Ewan, Dylan Groenewegen, Fernando Gaviria, Elia Viviani, Peter Sagan, Giacomo Nizzolo, Davide Cimolai, Mario Moschetti and David Dekker. We'll no doubt assess the chances of all those riders over the course of the next 140 kilometres. For now, our two leaders still have a gap of 4'05".
Here's how Merlier won stage two - with Gaviria missing out after his lead-out man Max Richeze inadvertently nudged him into the barriers.
'At a canter!' – Merlier wins on Giro debut
150km to go: four minutes for duo
Tagliani and Marengo now have four minutes as they approach Bologna, the gastronomic capital of Italy. Alessandro De Marchi will have good memories of this city: his only pro win on Italian soil came in Bologna in the Giro dell'Emilia in 2018. Jumbo-Visma, meanwhile, have sent a couple of men near to the front alongside Israel Start-Up Nation. They'll be hoping for a win for Dylan Groenewegen today - or, failing that, for the Dutch sprinter's countryman David Dekker.
Birthday boy Joe
Yesterday's win at Sestola was the perfect pre-birthday present for Joe Dombrowsky, who turns 30 years old today. It's amazing to think that that was the American's first win on European soil. He was a massive prospect on the amateur scene, beating Fabio Aru in the U23 Giro d'Italia in 2012 before signing a professional contract at Team Sky. It didn't really work out for him there, nor did EF Education First get the best out of him. But at UAE Team Emirates Dombrowsky finally picked up a belated big win yesterday.
165km to go: gap keeps on growing
Our two leaders see their advantage creep above two and a half minutes. It's the Israel Start-Up Nation team of pink jersey Alessandro De Marchi who are controlling the tempo in the pack - they're down to seven riders following the earlier withdrawal of Krists Neilands. The Latvian broke his collarbone in an unlucky fall on the way to the team hotel following the opening time trial on Saturday.
Could the wind be a factor?
Although the sun is out we're hearing that there could be a hefty cross-tailwind in a 90km stretch between Bologna and Cesana in the mid-section of this stage. Often these things get, ahem, blown out of proportion because of the fear that nothing will otherwise animate this pan-flat stage. It's certainly true that echelons are not something we associate with the Giro as much as we do the Tour or races in blustery Belgium. But let's just wait and see...
Two Italians in the lead
The escapees are Filippo Tagliani (Androni Giocattoli) and Umberto Marengo (Bardiani-CSF). Brave men on what is surely a hiding to nothing. Both these Italians are 37 minutes down on GC so they're no threat to the pink jersey of De Marchi, who's far more concerned with his race radio: he is currently riding behind the peloton and alongside his team car while a soigneur sorts out the problem. The gap for the leading duo quickly rises above the one-minute mark. We've seen Tagliani a lot in this Giro so far - he's clearly doing his best for the 'fuga' breakaway classification.
177km to go: they're off!
Finally some sunshine in Italy... After the heavy rain of the last two days, it's a blue sky above the peloton as the sun shines on the pack as they soft-pedal through the neutral zone. And then the flat is waved by Mauro Vegni, there's a move from the outset as two riders go clear...
Yesterday's GC shake-up: Almeida & Bennett struggle
It's fair to say that Remco Evenepoel is now the outright leader at Deceuninck Quick-Step after his Portuguese teammate Joao Almeida - who wore pink for a fortnight in his debut Giro last year - conceded over four minutes on the climb to Sestola. New Zealand's George Bennett - in a rare Grand Tour as leader for Jumbo-Visma - also lost 1'29" to his rivals. But it was a good day for the likes of Mikel Landa, Egan Bernal and Hugh Carthy.
Alessandro De Marchi in pink
A reminder that the new race leader is the Italian veteran Alessandro De Marchi of Israel Start-Up Nation. He may have missed out on the stage win - finishing 13 seconds behind Dombrowsky - but he did enough to take the first maglia rosa of his long career. The 34-year-old is now 22 seconds clear at the top of the standings - and given today's profile, he should wear the pink tunic for at least another day. Here he was this morning outside the team bus...
Good morning, cycling fans... and good luck
That's because today's fifth stage - at least on paper - doesn't seem to offer much joy. It's flat. It's straight. And there's no rain or even much wind coming off the Adriatic coast. Surely it's one for the sprinters - or will their teams make a hash of reeling in any potential breakaway like they did two days ago?
Stage 4 recap: not so average Joe
On the day it rained forever there was more than a little sunshine for the man who had not won on European soil since his distant triumph in the U23 Giro d’Italia in 2012. The American Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates) proved the strongest and canniest of a large 25-man breakaway to secure the biggest win of his career after a gruelling and wet schlep into the Apennines.
Italy’s Alessandro De Marchi missed out on a maiden Giro stage win but his second place was enough to give the Israel Start-Up Nation the first pink jersey of his career. De Marchi now leads Dombrowski – the new blue jersey after pocketing 18 king of the mountain points – by 22 seconds on an all-change general classification after a day the race was turned on its head.
Read the full report from yesterday here.
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