Pieter Weening (Rabobank) hung on to win the fifth stage of the Giro d’Italia in Orvieto this afternoon and took over the maglia rosa after a difficult day for Britain’s David Millar.
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The Dutchman won his second Grand Tour stage victory nearly six years after his first, attacking with just over 7km and he somehow resisted the best attempts of a strong chasing group to reel him in on the day’s final climb.
Millar cracked with around 3km to go; 12% sections proved too much for the Brit who had crashed earlier on in the stage. He also had to chase hard without any team-mates to rejoin the peloton after he was dropped on the Croce di Fighine, the final categorised climb of the day.
Fabio Duarte (Geox-TMC) took second, beating Jose Sepra and the rest of the chase group that included all the GC favourites. Vincenzo Nibali took sixth, and is now the best placed of the main contenders, just 24 seconds off the race lead.
The final 40km included 19km of unmade gravel roads – strade bianchi – but this did not stop BMC’s Martin Kohler attacking just 12km into the stage start in Piombino.
Kohler quickly amassed a lead of twelve minutes, but by the time the race hit the Fighine, where the gravel sections began, his advantage had shrunk to just five minutes.
Millar lost contact on the climb, adding to an already tempestuous day for the Garmin-Cervélo rider, who crashed in strange circumstances while contesting an intermediate sprint earlier on.
The race split here, with a group containing all the race favourites forming their own mini-peloton.
Millar raced gallantly over the next set of gravel sectors, bravely rejoining the likes of Nibali, Michele Scarponi and Alberto Contador with 15km to go.
Kohler was still ahead, and now had Weening and Ag2r’s John Gadret closing him down. They caught the BMC rider with 10km to go, before Weening launched a seemingly-doomed attack shortly after.
While the GC group caught Kohler and Gadret, they couldn’t reel Weening back in, who crossed the line six seconds ahead of his nearest rival.
Rabobank’s day was soured by a nasty crash to Tom Slagter, who fell with around 12km remaining. He fell on his head, but luckily never lost consciousness. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, but his condition is not thought to be serious.
Britain’s Peter Kennaugh (Sky) had a good day, assisting Sky’s overall hope Thomas Lofkvist. Kennaugh finished the stage in 24th spot and moved up to 16th overall. Lofkvist is 11th overall, 39 seconds behind Weening.
Giro d’Italia 2011, stage five: Piombino to Orvieto, 191km
1. Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank in 4-54-49
2. Fabio Duarte (Col) Geox-TMC at 8 secs
3. Jose Serpa (Col) Androni Giocattoli
4. Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Garmin-Cervelo
5. Oscar Gatto (Ita) Farnese Vini – Neri Sottoli
6. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
7. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo Bank-Sungard
8. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD
9. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha
10. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana
24. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Sky at 19 secs
49. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Cervelo at 2-50
99. Russell Downing (GB) Sky at 10-40
163. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad at 18-49
191. Adam Blythe (GB) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 21-48
Overall classification after stage two
1. Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank in 14-59-33
2. Marco Pinotti (Ita) HTC-Highroad at 2 secs
3. Kantantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad at 2 secs
4. Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Garmin-Cervelo at 5 secs
5. Pablo Lastras (Spa) Movistar at 22 secs
6. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 24 secs
7. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 26 secs
8. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank at 28 secs
9. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo Bank-Sungard at 30 secs
10. Jose Serpa (Col) Androni Giocattoli at 33 secs
11. Thomas Lofkvist (Swe) Sky at 39 secs
16. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Sky at 50 secs
46. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Cervelo 2-35
104. Russell Downing (GB) Sky at 12-54
155. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad at 21-30
193. Adam Blythe (GB) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 32-41
Martin Kohler on his mammoth lone escape
David Millar’s spell in the pink jersey ended after he lost touch with the leader’s group
Pieter Weening wins the stage, the white dust of the strade bianche still clinging to his legs