Stage 5 of Tirreno-Adriatico saw a revitalised Warren Barguil soar to a stunning solo victory on the steepest slopes the Adriatic coast has to offer. As well as being his best ever result in Italy, the result ends a near five-year wait for a WorldTour win for the Frenchman.
At the top of the general classification, despite moments that threatened doom, it’s as you were. The favourites all crossed the line within seconds of each other, while Tadej Pogacar retained his firm grip on the leader’s jersey.
On paper the 155km road from Sefro to Fermo did not look like much. Not one for the sprinters, by any means, but not one offering much opportunity for many others, either. A closer examination, however, and those modest-seeming climbs revealed their true selves. Not speedbumps but ‘muri’ - walls - five of them in total, with gradients in the high teens, between the entrance to the final circuit and the finishline in Fermo. Opportunities galore, in fact, and a real stage for the puncheur.
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No surprise, then, to see so many champing at the bit to get in the break, and a series of intense battles ensued before the peloton would finally give its approval. Vigilance from maglia azzurri, Tadej Pogacar’s team, UAE Emirates along with aggressive marshalling from that of Remco Evenepoel (QuickStep Alpha Vinyl) mean after the first hour the race had covered 44.8km, and still it was gruppo compatto.
With 100km of the stage remaining, Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Clément Russo (Arkéa-Samsic), Valentin Ferron (TotalEnergies) were able to force a 15 second lead over the bunch. As it began to look like it had life, that move inspired more attacks behind. Only after another 10km did the stage seem to settle down - temporarily at least - with 12 riders up ahead, and 100 seconds between them and the peloton. With plenty of danger in it, most notably Benjamin Thomas, at a minute the leader, (as well as a less threatening, in overall terms, Warren Barguil) still UAE Emirates refused to allow the break too much latitude. 3”47 was the hard lid they placed on its advantage; the first classified climb precisely where they placed it on. The favourite’s teams pushed on through the valley, eating into the gap. Any rider who could not handle the heat was swiftly ejected from the maglia azzurra’s kitchen.
By the Capodarco sprint (slash climb) the race was hitting the height of its intensity.
At 20km to go, the eye wateringly steep slopes of the Adriatic coast drew the best out of Warren Barguil’s legs. With Benjamin Thomas tempted and talented enough to join his attack, two Frenchman found themselves at the front of a famous Italian race. Not only that, but there was more than a fighting chance that (at least) one of them would be punching the air at the end.
An easing off on the fast, steep descents allowed a regrouping of sorts up front, while behind, with team-mate Julian Alaphilippe struggling, Remco Evenepoel took it upon himself to attack. The move was immediately chased down by Tadej Pogacar and served to separate him, along with Evenepoel, Jonas Vinegaard (Jumbo Visma) and Tao Geogeghan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) from the rest.
Some disagreement as to who should work in the remainder of the break reduced the likelihood of Benjamin Thomas taking the race’s overall lead. Had he managed it, he would have made history, as never in his professional career has Tadej Pogacar relinquished a race leader’s jersey.
At 6km to go, and the lead down to one minute, catastrophe. Remco Evenepoel missed a poorly-marshalled right-hand corner, led Pogacar and Vinegaard up a garden path, and left Evenepoel with ground to make up. That error gave the advantage back to the breakaway and injected new impetus back into it.

'Remarkable!' - Evenepoel, Pogacar and others miss turning at Tirreno-Adriatico

A minute up the road, almost as if he’d received radio instruction, Barguil attacked again. Quickly “a handy gap” was opened up over the rest.
Onto the final climb, and Barguil was looking like the rider he was in 2017. Struggling on the steeper slopes, yes, but crucially less than everyone else. Shoulders rocking, momentum maintained, onward he ploughed. The gradient easing briefly brought a moment’s breather and revealed how brutally he had put the others to the sword, and what a pure climber he still is.
Under the flamme rouge, through narrow streets, Barguil held his cadence high, almost able to enjoy the final cobbled metres towards victory.
“It’s fantastic,” said a jubilant Barguil at the finish. “I wanted to stay in front in the final. I thought it was a good stage for me and that it was the perfect day for breakaways. On the final ‘wall’ I gave everything, I’m so tired but I did it!“ Barguil credited “my teammate, friend and room-mate, Clément Russo” for helping him to victory.
Xandro Meurisse of Alpecin Fenix crossed the line in second place, with Simon Velasco four seconds further back.
Richie Porte finished first from the favourites, taking two seconds from Pogacar’s lead, while Remco recovered to join Pogacar, Vinegaard, Mas and Hindley on the same time.

Stage 5 Result

1 - Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) 3h39’53”
2 - Xandro Meurisse (Alpecin-Fenix) +00:10s
3 - Simone Velasco (Astana Qazaqstan) +00:14s
4 - Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) +00:15s
5 - Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers) +00:26s
6 - Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) +00:28s
7 - Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) ,,
8 - Enric Mas (Movistar) ,,
9 - Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) ,,
10 - Jai Hindley (Bora-hansgrohe) ,,

General Classification

1 - Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 18:17:08
2 - Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) +00:09s
3 - Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) +00:43s
4 - Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +0:00:45
5 - Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Qazaqstan) +01:00
6 - Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers) ,,
7 - Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) +01:02
8 - Jai Hindley (Bora Hansgrohe) +01:06
9 - Enric Mas (Movistar) +01:11
10 - Wilco Kelderman (Bora Hansgrohe) +1:14
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