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Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia: Arnaud Démare wins stage 5 in Messina

Frenchman takes top honors as Mark Cavendish and Caleb Ewan get distanced on day's climb.

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Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) took the sprint victory in Messina on stage 5 of the Giro d’Italia, his first win at a grand tour in two years.

Démare was distanced over the day’s main climb, but got back into the peloton after the descent, unlike pre-stage favorites Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl).

“The climb was difficult, we expected it,” said the stage-winner. “I lost a lot of time but the guys did a great job.”

Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) took second with Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel-Premier Tech) in third. Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) finished safely in the bunch to retain the overall race lead.

Despite missing one of his key lead-out riders in Jacopo Guarnieri, who was stuck back in the Cavendish group, Démare was well-led out by his team. The Frenchman was almost boxed in around the final bend, but he was guided up to the front by Ramon Sinkeldam.

Sinkeldam towed Démare along the fast downward slope to the line, with the Frenchman pulling out of his slipstream at 200m to go. Gaviria tried to come around Démare just before the line but didn’t have the pace to overtake him, and banged his bike in frustration.–R9uCE2D_m07oJQ

How it happened

With the second category climb of Portella Mandrazzi sitting mid-way along the 174k route, stage 5 was never going to be a straightforward sprint stage.

While some complications came on the key feature of the day, the stage started out simply enough with a breakaway getting up the road fairly quickly. Mattia Bais and Filippo Tagliani (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli), Mirco Maestri (Eolo-Kometa), Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF), and Jaakko Hänninen (Ag2r-Citroën) were the five that went up the road.

The gap was allowed to grow to a touch more than four minutes before the peloton began taking them back on the approach to the climb. Before the ascent was contested, Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) pinged off the front to take some points at the intermediate sprint.

Alpecin-Fenix soon took over the pace-setting on the orders of Mathieu van der Poel and the impact was soon noticed at the back of the bunch. Cavendish was the first of the big sprint names to drop and soon after Ewan and Démare showed the strain.

Intermarché helped Alpecin push the pace when the slightly thinned-out peloton hit the descent. Démare was the first of the dropped sprinters to come over — at around a minute back from the main bunch — while Cavendish was two minutes behind, and Ewan was further off the back.

As the Intermarché-led bunch scythed down the twisting descent, the gap to the leaders fell dramatically. It had already dropped to less than a minute at the top of the climb and it would drop to about 10 seconds, where it held for a short while before the leaders were finally brought back with about 65km to go.

There was no let-up in pace as the bunch tried to prevent the dropped sprinters from getting back. Intermittent time checks added to the intrigue of the day until the riders reached the flat roads again.

While Démare was able to get back into the bunch with most of his teammates, Cavendish and Ewan were still chasing. However, with 50km to go, Cavendish and Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl called time on the chase with the gap still sitting at two minutes to the main group.

With Ewan and Cavendish out of contention, the opportunities opened up for other teams and a frenetic battle for position ensued over the final 30 kilometers. A short and steep ascent inside the final three kilometers added an extra challenge for the riders, but Démare survived it with no trouble.

Israel-Premier Tech led the bunch under the red kite, but Groupama-FDJ took over when it was needed. Miles Scotson pulled the group around the final, sharp corner with Sinkeldam guiding Démare to the front and dropping him off with 200m to go.

Once he was released, nobody could stop Démare.

“We know what we are capable of,” added the former French champion. “In cycling, it’s sometimes difficult to put things in place, but you have to know how to persevere.”

There will be another chance for the sprinters on stage 6 with a flatter day out as the race returns to the mainland between Palmi and Scalea.

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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