After getting soaked and stressed on technical run in to Serra San Bruno yesterday, the riders were looking forward to an easier day in the saddle. The 203km(127mi) ride from Cosenza to Matera, Stage Five, promised a fairly simple, straightforward ride, with only a few lumps at the finish.
Cannondale Pro Cycling, which missed out on stage success the previous two days, and with a finish that could favor Elia Viviani's sprinting skills, needed to be a player. Rather than sitting back for the opening hours, which would mean bringing the team to the front for the chase later in the race, they were aggressive early. Alan Marangoni started the stage ready to ride from kilometer zero, and worked his way into the day's breakaway seven kilometers(4mi) into the stage.
The group started with seven, but Stefano Pirazzi, the best-placed of the bunch, had a mechanical early, and the five remaining riders settled in for a long ride to the finish. At half-distance, the break had an eight-minute gap. Large, but no guarantee of success.
Through the two intermediate sprints, Marangoni got second in both, and the lead five kept their formation together, knowing cooperation was the only way they'd be able to keep the field at bay.
Then the rain came. The field slowed to don jackets and the break sped on. The momentary respite turned out to mean very little, as the straight, wide roads meant the precipitation offered the break little advantage.
Rain over, the field bore down on the break and swallowed them up on the second categorized climb of the day, with 22km (14mi) remaining. The climb was enough to detach super sprinter Mark Cavendish of Omega Pharma-Quickstep, but not enough to put Viviani into difficulty.
Going into the final five kilometers (3.1mi), Viviani was poised to strike with his Cannondale teammates. The rain returned, coating the roads with a sheen of moisture. On the final left-hand corner, the Argos-Shimano leadout rider lost traction and slid out. Viviani had to slow down, clip out, step around some stopped riders, and restart. Bardiani's Marco Canola, riding as a leadout man for his faster teammates, was suddenly off the front with a several bike length gap and less than one kilometer to the finish. Argos-Shimano's John Degenkolb was in second and chasing, with Viviani alone in third.
Degenkolb caught and passed Canola for a surprise solo win. Viviani was swarmed and finished fourteenth. The top overall contenders all finished together and their positions are maintained for another day, with Katusha's Luca Paolini retaining the Maglia Rosa as race leader.
After being so close until a crash disrupted his chances, Viviani was disappointed in the result. "It's a big pity because I lost a chance. Unfortunately to road was wet and not all the riders has the same skill to drive the bike. The result was the crash. I'm happy I wasn't involved but regret for the result. Anyway, "chapeau" to Degenkolb because he rode a great finish. It was a hard finale and be competitive is a good signal for me. The feeling is good and I really want to find another chance." Marangoni, the stalwart of the day, with 174km logged in front of the peloton was happy with his ride. "Searching for the break was part of our strategy at this Giro and today the we had a great opportunity. Many times these long breaks are caught, but it happens occasionally that some riders stay away until the finish. This is why is never a waste of our energies. Of course I'm tired, but was a good adventure. With my break-mates we showed courage. This is bike racing!"
Tomorrow's Stage Six might well offer up the finish that was expected today and the opportunity Viviani is looking for. The 169km ride from Mola di Bari to Margherita di Savoia is completely flat, and should present the sprinters with another chance to mix it up in a hectic bunch finale. Viviani will have his rematch with Cavendish yet.
Cosenza to Matera 203 km
1. John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano in 4:37:48
2. Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Katusha at same time
3. Paul Martens (Ger) Blanco Pro Cycling Team same time
4. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling same time
5. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step same time
Stage Results Cannonale Pro Cycling
14. Elia Viviani (Ita) same time
35. Cayetano José Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col) same time
69. Cristiano Salerno (Ita) same time
84. Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Ita) same time
120. Damiano Caruso (Ita) 0:03:30
132. Fabio Sabatini (Ita) 0:06:37
135. Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) same time
136. Cameron Wurf (Aus) same time
172. Alan Marangoni (Ita) 0:12:40
1. Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha 19:56:39
2. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 00:00:17
3. Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 00:00:26
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 00:00:31
5. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp 00:00:34
General Classification Cannondale Pro Cycling
36. Damiano Caruso (Ita) 00:02:38
46. Cayetano José Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col) 00:03:04
67. Cristiano Salerno (Ita) 00:11:35
79. Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) 00:15:27
99. Elia Viviani (Ita) 00:25:44
100. Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Ita) 00:25:56
128. Cameron Wurf (Aus) 00:30:57
139. Fabio Sabatini (Ita) 00:32:33
156. Alan Marangoni (Ita) 00:38:28