Giro d’Italia: John Degenkolb wins chaotic fifth stage after final corner crash
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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Giro d’Italia: John Degenkolb wins chaotic fifth stage after final corner crash

by Ben Atkins at 11:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Race Reports and Results
 
German sprinter one of the few to get around as wet roads bring down his lead out

john degenkolb

John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) took his first ever victory at the Giro d’Italia as he won the chaotic fifth stage of the 2013 race, between Cosenza and Matera, after a final corner crash brought most of the peloton to a halt. The 24-year-old German was one of the few riders to get around the incident as his lead out man Luka Mezgec slid off on a white line, made glacial by heavy rain that had fallen earlier in the day. To reach the line first, however, Degenkolb first had to chase for a full kilometre to catch Marco Canola (Bardiani-CSF), who had been the first man around the corner; despite the Italian’s best efforts, he was caught by Degenkolb with 200 metres to go.

As Canola faded in the finishing straight he found himself swamped by several riders in Degenkolb’s wake, with Angel Vicioso (Katusha) taking second place ahead of Paul Martens (Blanco) in third.

“We knew that it was a stage that suited me today,” said Degenkolb at the finish. “But I was on the limit and it was so hard right up until the end.

“We had to suffer a lot, but I got the team’s confidence today. We controlled the whole race and they worked hard to keep me there so it is victory for all of us; a great day for Team Argos-Shimano.

“We started the finale very well,” the German explained. “I had Luca Mezgec in font of me, who did a fantastic job in bringing me into position. Unfortunately he crashed with one kilometre to go, leaving me alone, and there was only one guy in front from Team Bardiani Valvole.

“[Cannondale’s Elia] Viviani was behind me, but I went full gas and made it to the finish, coming past the leader with 250 meters to go to win,” he added. “But it was so hard. Incredible!"

Although he was one of the riders brought to a halt by the final corner incident - not actually coming down himself - race leader Luca Paolini (Katusha) finished the race with his Maglia Rosa intact. Since the incident happened well inside the final three kilometres, the Italian - along with much of the peloton - was given the same time as Degenkolb.

The mostly flat 203km stage saw a breakaway from Alan Marangoni (Cannondale), Ricardo Mestre (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Tomas Gil (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), Brian Bulgaç (Lotto-Belisol) and Rafael Andriato (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) escape in the early kilometres and gain a maximum lead of just over nine minutes before being stesdily closed down.

The break was finally caught on the early slopes of the short, but steep, 4th category climb to Montescaglioso with just over 20km to go, with the pace of the peloton seeing several of the sprinters distanced; most of whom would not see the front of the peloton again.

Over the top of the climb Ben Gastauer (AG2R La Mondiale) got away, to be joined by Robert Vrecer (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and then Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol), but the trio was not allowed to get very far ahead before being pulled back. Matteo Rabottini (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) then tried with just eight kilometres to go, followed by an attack from Hubert Dupont (AG2R La Mondiale) with just over five, but the peloton was together as it entered the final kilometres and seemingly heading for a sprint between the fast men that were left.

As Canola led around the final corner with just over a kilometre to go, however, Mezgec slid out on a wet white line; few riders actually came down behind him, but all but a few riders were forced to stop.

Canola kept going and looked as though he was going to make it to the finish, but the slightly uphill finishing straight saw him slow in the last few hundred metres and Degenkolb - who had made an almost standing start from the final corner - passed him to take the victory.

The break goes early as usual as the weather looks to play its part

Marangoni, Mestre, Gil, Bulgaç and Andriato escaped after just six kilometres, with Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani-CSF) for company. Since Pirazzi was just 3’06” behind Paolini, in 47th place, he sat up shortly after the taking the points over the top of the 4th category Cipolletto after 37km. The peloton was 9’10” behind as it followed over the top of the climb and, as Pirazzi was finally absorbed by the bunch after 58km, the gap had opened up to 9’50”.

Katusha began to lift the pace a little on the head of the peloton and, as Andriato took first place over the Traguardo Volante, in Villapiana Lido after 80km, the Russian team followed 8’03” later.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Argos-Shimano and Orica-GreenEdge moved up to help with the chase, as they hoped to take advantage of the first chance of a sprint finish since day one. Meanwhile, torrential rain was causing problems for the race organiser at the finish in Matera, but the peloton was still riding in relatively bright sunshine.

At the second Traguardo Volante, in Rocca Imperiale with 84.8km to go, Andriato was first across the line again, and the peloton followed after 6’25” as Cannondale escorted Elia Viviani ahead of the bunch to take the final point for sixth place. The weather was beginning to turn by now, becoming distinctly overcast, with several riders donning their jackets in anticipation of the coming rain.

With 65km to go the rain began to fall more heavily on the peloton, with the gap to the leaders - who were enjoying dry conditions once more - still gradually falling. With 60km to go, however, the five-man group was still 5’45” ahead but, as the peloton moved into drier conditions, Australian champion Luke Durbridge (Orica-AIS) and Cheng Ji (Argos-Shimano) - the first ever Chinese rider in the Giro - lifted the pace and it began to close more quickly.

Into the final 55km the rain began to fall heavily on both breakaway and peloton, but the chase continued as Movistar joined Argos-Shimano and Orica-AIS at the front. Five kilometres later, as the race entered the final 50km, the gap was just 4’30”.

The sun came out again with 35km to go and several teams began to move forward; this cut the leaders’ advantage to just 1’36” as they passed the 30km banner.

The break is over and the final climb puts the sprinters under pressure

The climb to Montescaglioso began just after the 25km banner, with the peloton now just 36 seconds behind the break. The peloton was strung out into a long line on the shallow early slopes, with Garmin-Sharp took over the pacemaking.

Gil was the first rider to be dropped by the leaders, quickly followed by Andriato, but Bulgaç was refusing to surrender up front, with Mestre and Marangoni on his wheel. The Dutchman soon surrendered, however, with Mestre the last man to be caught with 22km to go as the Movistar team moved to the front.

Several riders were being tailed off the back of the peloton, as the race favourites began to mark one another up front. Most of the sprinters were still present but some, including Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Francesco Chicchi (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) were unable to hold on. Also on his way out the back of the peloton, as the roads began to steepen, was 2000 Giro winner Stefano Garzelli (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia).

With a kilometre still to climb Pirazzi jumped clear at the front - going on his second break of the day - he was joined by Gastauer, but the Bardiani-CSF rider managed to sprint away from the Luxembourger to take the points with 20.3km to go. Just eight seconds behind them, Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) took the points for third.

Pirazzi was caught just after the climb, but Gastauer kept going on the twisting descent, with Vrecer chasing across to him. The duo was ten seconds ahead of the peloton as they snaked their down the hill, with Blanco and Bardiani-CSF leading the chase. Under the 15km banner the gap had increased a little to 12 seconds as Gastauer’s AG2R La Mondiale team did it’s best to slow the chase.

With 13km to go Bak jumped away from the peloton and up to the two leaders. The chase was still being blocked by AG2R La Mondiale, as Andoni Giocattoli-Venezuela took to the front of the peloton, and the three riders up front were holding the peloton at bay. Under the ten kilometre banner though, their lead was just six seconds.

Gruppo compatto with some names missing and apparently heading for a sprint

Work done by the teams on the front had succeeded in preventing a group containing Cavendish and Chicchi from rejoining the peloton.

With the peloton right on the break’s heels riders began to bridge across, with Rabottini pulling ahead as the expanded group was swept up with eight kilometres to go. The 2012 stage winner was able to stay clear for just over a kilometre before being caught by the Saxo-Tinkoff led peloton.

Lampre-Merida and Blanco then moved up, but BMC Racing was holding Cadel Evans right up at the front of the peloton. As the pace dropped a little Dupont jumped away, however, and managed to pull out seven seconds under the five kilometre banner. Blanco and BMC Racing were both still chasing, but the Frenchman was holding them at bay on the still-wet roads.

With just over three to go BMC Racing swept past Dupont, however, with Evans still sitting in second wheel, but Bardiani-CSF and Cannondale were both moving up behind the Australian.

Canola then took over the lead as the race approached the final kilometre but, on a slick white line behind him, Mezgec came sliding down and stopped the rest of the peloton in its tracks. Canola kept going and sprinted the final kilometre to the finish but was gradually hunted down by Degenkolb, who passed him with 200 metres to go to take a solo victory, with Vicioso, Martens and several others also coming past.

Result stage 5
1. John Degenkolb (Ger) Argos-Shimano
2. Angel Vicioso (Spa) Katusha Team
3. Paul Martens (Ger) Blanco Pro Cycling
4. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky
5. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
6. Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia
7. Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing
8. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge
9. Grega Bole (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM
10. Tanel Kangert (Est) Team Astana

Standings after stage 5
1. Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team
2. Rigoberto Urán (Col) Team Sky @ 17s
3. Beñat Intxuasti (Spa) Movistar Team @ 26s
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Team Astana @ 31s
5. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp @ 34s
6. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky
7. Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha Team @ 36s
8. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky @ 37s
9. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia @ 39s
10. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team @ 42s

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