After Tuesday?s soporific stage, the Giro d?Italia came alive with an absorbing ascent of the Alpe di Siusi, won by Russian rider Denis Menchov.
Yesterday?s stage winner Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes) couldn?t quite match the Rabobank rider?s jump at the finish but second place was enough to pinch the pink jersey from Thomas Lovkvist, despite the Swede?s spirited defence of his lead. The Columbia-Highroad man had looked for all the world like he was going to get dropped in the closing stages, but he dug deep, clung on and found the strength to get third place over the line.
Those three were at the front of a group of seven that contested the finish. Carlos Sastre (Cervélo), Ivan Basso (Liquigas),Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner (Astana), were the others, although David Arroyo, Michael Rogers, Laurens Ten Dam and Frederik Kessiakoff were closing in on them at the finish.
Britain?s Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) did the ride of his life, faring even better than yesterday. He stuck with the lead group until three kilometres to go and came in just 1-47 down. He came home in 22nd place, just behind another Brit, Silence-Lotto’s Charly Wegelius.
But it was a bad day for Lance Armstrong. His lack of top-class racing was exposed as he was dropped around six kilometres from the summit. It was bizarre to see so many of his Astana team-mates ? Janez Brajkovic, David Navarro and Jose Luis Rubiera ? nurse him to the finish, while their best hope overall, Leipheimer, had just Horner for support up ahead.
Armstrong came over the line almost three minutes down. Quite why a rider who had ruled out an overall challenge needed three riders around him as he lost ground is a mystery. Perhaps Brajkovic and co were making sure of their places in the Tour line-up, or riding for contracts in Armstrong?s new team.
Lampre?s duo Damiano Cunego and Marzio Bruseghin also suffered badly, with the 2004 champion Cunego losing 2-35. Liquigas rider Franco Pellizotti also lost ground.
The day?s big break was Eros Capecchi (Fuji-Servetto), Daniele Pietropolli (LPR Brakes), Jose Serpa and Carlos Jose Ochoa (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni), Giovanni Visconti (ISD), Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre) and Thomas Voeckler (BBOX Bouygues Telecom). So, that was five riders from Pro Continental teams and two from the ProTour. Gavazzi was dropped at the start of the final climb.
Like yesterday, Liquigas did the bulk of the chasing on the lower slopes of the climb, but it took them until 10 kilometres to go to reel in the break.
First to attack was Barloworld?s Giampaolo Cheula, who was followed by Dries Devenyns of Quick Step. Cheula lasted about two minutes before he blew but the Belgian pushed on.
From then there were no definitive attacks, just a gradual whittling down, as is the way these days.
Basso spent a long time on the front, and it wasn?t until near the end that Di Luca gave him a hand. Sastre opened up the sprint in the final kilometre, but was closed down by Menchov who held off and then pulled away from Di Luca.
The battle for the pink jersey has crystalised, and the top seven already look like they will be the ones to fight it out. All can climb, and all are decent in the time trials. The likes of Pellizotti and Arroyo are not out of contention, but Cunego will find it very difficult to make up three-and-a-half minutes climbing the way he did today. It looks like game over already for him.
Tomorrow?s sixth stage from Bessanone Brixen to Mayrhofen in Austria is a 248-kilometre brute. Although it does not have a summit finish, it does feature two difficult climbs, and could be the day for a breakaway to succeed.
Stage five: San Martino di Castrozza ? Alpe di Siusi, 125km
1. Denis Menchov (Russia) Rabobank 3-15-24
2. Danilo Di Luca (Italy) LPR Brakes at 2sec
3. Thomas Lovkvist (Sweden) Columbia-Highroad at 5sec
4. Ivan Basso (Italy) Liquigas same time
5. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana at 9sec
6. Chris Horner (USA) Astana
7. Carlos Sastre (Spain) Cervelo at 19sec
8. David Arroyo (Spain) Caisse d?Epargne at 22sec
9. Michael Rogers (Australia) Columbia-Highroad
10. Frederik Kessiakoff (Sweden) Fuji-Servetto same time
21. Charly Wegelius (GB) Silence-Lotto at 1-47
22. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream same time
28. Chris Froome (GB) Barloworld at 2-17
35. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana at 2-58
98. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 13-48
140. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Cervelo at 16-53
142. Ian Stannard (GB) ISD same time
165. Ben Swift (GB) Katusha same time
179. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervelo same time
192. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-Highroad at 17-48
Overall classification after stage five
1. Danilo Di Luca (Italy) LPR Brakes
2. Thomas Lovkvist (Sweden) Columbia-Highroad at 5sec
3. Michael Rogers (Australia) Columbia-Highroad at 36sec
4. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana at 42sec
5. Denis Menchov (Russia) Rabobank at 50sec
6. Ivan Basso (Italy) Liquigas at 1-06
7. Carlos Sastre (Spain) CSC at 1-15
8. Chris Horner (USA) Astana at 1-17
9. Franco Pellizotti (Italy) Liquigas at 1-28
10. David Arroyo (Spain) Caisse d?Epargne at 1-41
11. Gilberto Simoni (Italy) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni at 2-01
21. Damiano Cunego (Italy) Lampre at 3-30
22. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana at 3-34
25. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 3-58
32. Chris Froome (GB) Barloworld at 5-03
45. Charly Wegelius (GB) Silence-Lotto at 8-02
123. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 38-28
126. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-Highroad at 38-57
144. Ben Swift (GB) Katusha at 41-07
149. Ian Stannard (GB) ISD at 41-38
155. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Cervelo at 42-33
179. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervelo at 48-42
Lance Armstrong rolls in, 2-58 behind stage winner Menchov
Bradley Wiggins at the finish after another good ride
Danilo Di Luca in pink
|Find the pink jersey competition|
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Find the jerseys throughout the Giro and you would win a £400 Parker International voucher.
18 pink jerseys will be hidden around the Cycling Weekly and Parker International websites over the course of the three week race – all you have to do is decipher the clues at the end of the stage reports to find them.
There’s no jersey for today’s Giro stage – the competition resumes tomorrow!
|Giro d’Italia 2009 links|
Stage four: Di Luca denies Soler on the line; Lovkvist takes pink jersey
Stage three: Cavendish loses pink jersey after being caught behind late crash
Stage two: Petacchi denies Cavendish the stage win
Stage one: Cavendish in pink as Columbia prove their point to Garmin
Cavendish looking for Giro revenge
Armstrong happy with stage four performance
Lovkvist will fight to keep Giro lead
Giro could be last race for Armstrong’s team
Vande Velde crashes out of Giro
Petacchi claims he didn’t know of Cavendish crash
Cavendish struggles to find consolation in pink jersey
Petacchi: I’ve been working out how to beat Cav
I’m wearing pink on behalf of the team, says Cavendish
Wiggins ready to win Giro team time trial
Friday, May 8: Giro news round-up
Cavendish out to topple Garmin in Giro team time trial
Team time trial start times
Cycling Weekly’s Giro d’Italia top ten prediction
Brits in Venice for Giro presentation
Armstrong overshadows overall favourites at Giro presentation
Armstrong confident of finding new sponsor for Astana
Armstrong working to save Astana team
Wiggins in top form for Giro
Garmin Slipstream kitted out for Giro opener
Dan Lloyd gets late Giro call-up
Armstrong’s special Giro bikes unveiled
Daniel Lloyd overlooked for Giro ride
Cummings and Thomas not selected for Giro d’Italia
Cavendish tests Giro form at Tour of Romandie
David Millar confirms he’s riding in 2009 Giro
Bennati to take on Cavendish in Giro 2009 sprints
2009 Giro d’Italia to start in Venice
Evans and Silence-Lotto disagree on Giro 2009 ride
Armstrong to ride 2009 Giro
Tuttosport reveals 2009 Giro d’Italia route
Dolce & Gabbana design new Giro jersey
2009 Giro d’Italia guide and features
Find the pink jersey competition
Giro d’Italia 2009: The Big Preview
British riders to have led the grand tours
CW’s Giro top ten prediction
Brits in the Giro 2009
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
CW Classic: the 1987 Giro d’Italia
2008 Giro d’Italia archive
Giro d’Italia 2008 coverage index – race reports, photos, results
From rule Britannia to cruel Britannia
Giro 2008: The final word on this year’s race
Brits at the 2008 Giro: photo special
Five days to go, what’s in store?
Giro d’Italia 2008: Rest day review (May 27)
Giro d’Italia 2008: Rest day review (May 19)
Giro d’Italia 2008 preview