Stage 5 - Cosenza - Matera - 203km
8 May 2013
Report: Eddie Allen
It was a tough day for Mark Cavendish, who, after being touted for a second 2013 Giro stage victory, lost touch with the front group on the final categorised climb and was unable to contest the final sprint.
There was drama too for Bradley Wiggins, who was once again held up in the final chaotic kilometre, John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) taking the stage win after his leadout man crashed heavily at the head of the bunch on the slippery roads of Matera, which hours before, were inundated with a flash flood. Thankfully, with the crash taking place in the final 3km, Wiggins and many other contenders were not penalised and the Team Sky leader remained in sixth on general classification, 34 seconds behind maglia rosa Luca Paolini of Katusha.
The fifth stage of the 2013 Giro d’Italia headed north east along the Ionian coast before heading inland to the town on Matera, the 203km stage taking in two fourth category climbs, two sprints and an uncategorised climb just prior to the finish. The day’s climbs fuelled speculation that the stage finish wouldn’t favour a pure sprinter. However as the stage progressed, it became clear that the topography was the least of the riders’ worries, as mid race the finish town was lashed with torrential rain, causing a flash flood in the finish straight; the race’s sensitive transponder timing systems completely submerged at one point.
An early breakaway coloured the opening throes of the stage; Tomas Gil (Androni Giocattoli), Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole), Alan Marangoni (Cannondale), Ricardo Mestre (Euskaltel), Brian Bulgac (Lotto Belisol) and Rafael Andriato (Vini Fantini) getting away within the first 20 kilometres. Pirazzi was shed from the break leaving just five, who went on to open a gap of over six minutes on the peloton. Andriato claimed both of the intermediate sprint points with Pirazzi claiming maximum points on the first category four climb at Cipoletto before dropping back to the peloton.
At 60km to go, with weather conditions alternating between bright sunshine, strong winds, heavy showers and forbidding cloud, the peloton began to peg back the escapees, Orica GreenEdge and Argos Shimano among the teams with vested interests in a bunch finish putting in the spadework at the head of the bunch. Notable by their absence in the chase were Omega-Pharma Quick Step, saving themselves to support their leader Mark Cavendish on the ascent of the final 4th category climb of Montescaglioso.
The breakaway was swallowed up at the foot of the short, sharp Montescagliosco climb, with early breakaway man Pirazzi finding a second wind, jumping clear and taking top KoM points for the second time in the stage. Meanwhile at the back of the peloton, Cavendish, flanked by his teammates, winched himself up the climb, losing touch over the top. As the race descended towards Matare, Ben Gastauer of Ag2R-La Mondiale and Robert Vrecernow of Euskatel took over from Pirazzi at the front of the race. They were then joined by Lotto-Belisol’s Lars Bak before being consumed by the peloton.
With less than 10km to go it became clear that it wasn’t going to be Cavendish’s day, the Manxman in a group 45 seconds back which also included Orica GreenEdge sprint rival Matt Goss.
For Bradley Wiggins and his fellow general classification contenders, it was a case of staying out of trouble and not losing time to each other, particularly in the rain drenched and potentially chaotic run-in to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Matera. Thankfully for riders and organisers alike, the deluge had abated by time the race reached the finish, although the roads were still soaked and treacherous.
As the sprinters rounded a lefthander in the final 1km, John Degenkolb’s leadout man lost his back wheel and went down, leaving Marco Canola out front with a chance of victory. However the Argos rider wasn’t going to let victory slip between his fingers and overpowered Canola in the final few metres.
Behind, confusion reigned, with the majority of the peloton caught up behind the crash. However, after an anxious few minutes, race organisers confirmed that due to the crash, Wiggins and others caught behind would not lose time, meaning status quo in the general classification. Meanwhile, the Cavendish group arrived at the finish, the Omega Pharma Quick Step rider looking ahead to tomorrow’s flat 154km stage from Mola di Bari to Margherita di Savoia.
1 DEGENKOLB John Team Argos - Shimano 04:37:48
2 VICIOSO ARCOS Ángel Katusha Team "
3 MARTENS Paul Blanco Pro Cycling Team "
4 HENAO MONTOYA Sergio Luis Sky Procycling "
5 TRENTIN Matteo Omega Pharma - Quick-Step "
6 PANTANO GOMEZ Jarlinson Team Colombia "
7 OSS Daniel BMC Racing Team "
8 KEUKELEIRE Jens Orica GreenEDGE "
9 BOLE Grega Vacansoleil - DCM "
10 KANGERT Tanel Astana Pro Team "
11 GOLAS Michal Omega Pharma - Quick-Step "
12 CANOLA Marco Bardiani Valvole - CSF Inox "