Jakob Fuglsang won stage five of the 2019 Tirreno-Adriatico, while Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) extended his lead ahead of Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) in the overall classification.
Fuglsang made it two in two for Astana following Alexey Lutsenko’s dramatic win yesterday, and, like his team-mate, based his victory on a long-range attack.
The Dane made his move over the steep Muro di San Pietro climb, on the penultimate lap of a very tricky finishing circuit.
On that same climb on the final lap, overall leader Adam Yates managed to drop Roglič, ultimately finishing second on the stage and gaining 16 seconds over his rival to extend his lead in the overall classification to 25 seconds.
Fuglsang’s ride was enough to see him rise to third overall at 35 seconds.
How it happened
A sizeable group of 10 broke away at the start of the day. They were: Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe), Jorge Arcas (Movistar), Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), Nico Denz (Ag2r La Mondiale), Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal), Nathan Van Hooydonck (CCC Team), Tom Van Asbroeck (Israel Cycling Academy), Ivan Rovny (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Davide Gabburo and Edoardo Zardini (both Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM)
They were soon joined by the trio of Steve Morabito (Groupama-FDJ), Julien Simon (Cofidis) and Giovanni Visconti (Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM).
The break posed no threat to the overall classification, with Zardini the best placed in 38th at 8-48. He briefly became the race’s virtual leader when the gap went up to over nine minutes, but work at the front from Yates’ Mitchelton-Scott and Roglič’s Jumbo-Visma saw it come back down to within eight minutes.
The gap plummeted at a more rapid rate once Tom Dumoulin’s Sunweb took to the front of the peloton, as the race approached the hilly finishing circuit. By the time they reached the finish line for the first time, to begin the first of three laps, it stood at just 4-30.
Perhaps sensing a need to up the pace, Oss and Denz broke clear from the rest of the leading group with 61km left to ride, only to think better of it. Zardini counter-attacked, taking with him about half of the group, with the other half following a few kilometres later.
Clearly feeling strong, Zardini attacked again on the second ascent of the super-steep Muro di San Pietro, and formed a select leading quartet of Denz, Gaburro and Pedersen over the top. There was clear daylight between them and the other breakaways riders by the start of the penultimate lap, and a gap of 4-05 over the chasing peloton.
The first tactical ploy among the GC teams were made when Astana massed at the front of the peloton at the start of the penultimate lap. Later on in the lap, a powerful turn from Dario Cataldo on the reduced the peloton to just half a dozen or so riders, including the blue jersey of Yates and his main rival Roglič.
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) was caught out some way behind, but an urgent acceleration saw him bridge up to a chasing group. They then caught up with the blue jersey group, increasing it in size to about 20, with all the major GC riders present.
By now the leading quartet had a gap of just over one minute, their chances for stage victory appearing doomed.
Astana then launched the next stage of their plan by launching Fuglsang over the top of the penultimate ascent of the Muro di San Pietro, after Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) had tried their own attack.
Fuglsang caught up to the leaders at the start of the final lap, who clung to his wheel for dear life before being dropped when the road went uphill again 12km from the line.
Behind, a lack of organisation saw first Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) then Alaphilippe, then Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) attempt solo pursuits. Eventually, a chasing group of four formed, consisting of Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Sam Oomen (Sunweb), Giovanni Visconti (Neri-Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM) and Jan Polanc (UAE Emirates).
They were all caught when Adam Yates made his first move on the final ascent of the Porto d’Osimo, 11km from the finish. Another acceleration saw Yates drop everyone, with only Roglič managing to claw his way back.
Together, Yates and Roglič (with the latter mostly sitting on the former’s wheel) set off in pursuit of Fuglsang, in the process picking off the final remnant of the day’s initial break.
At the foot of the final climb of Muro di San Pietro, 3km from the finish, they remained 52 seconds adrift, and 42 seconds ahead of a chasing group of other GC contenders, including Dumoulin.
Roglič laboured to hold Yates wheel on the steeper gradients of the climb, and was dropped altogether 2km from the finish.
Yates was however unable to catch Fuglsang, who, after his advantage had dipped to around 30 seconds, held his nerve to claim victory.
Tirreno-Adriatico continues tomorrow with a stage expected to end in a bunch sprint.
Tirreno-Adriatico 2019, stage five: Colli al Metauro to Recanati (178km)
1 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team, in 4-39-32
2 Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 40s
3 Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 56s
4 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 1-39
5 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 1-53
6 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky, at 1-57
7 Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo, at 2-09
8 Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, at 2-12
9 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
10 Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First, all at same time
General classification after stage five
1 Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, in 20-33-48
2 Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 25s
3 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team, at 35s
4 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 1-55
5 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-Quick-Step, at 2-34
6 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky, at 2-39
7 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 2-46
8 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 2-58
9 Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First, at 3-03
10 Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 3-26