Crash Mars Matera Sprint on Giro d'Italia Stage Five

Wed 8 May 2013

Matt Goss and Brett Lancaster fell victim to a late race crash in the final corner ahead of the stage five finale at the Giro d’Italia. Wet, slippery roads played a part in the pile-up that eliminated Goss from contesting the bunch sprint on a day ORICA-GreenEDGE had long listed as a target. Jens Keukeleire managed to avoid the mayhem to cross the line in eighth place, on the same time as stage winner John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano).

“Today was probably the most significant stage for the team,” said Sport Director Neil Stephens. “It was a clear chance for us to control the race and get Gossy up for the win.”

“The plan we made was perfect, and the boys did their work really well,” Stephens continued. “We don’t know how the race would have gone without the crash, but we think we would have been up there for a top placing if not the win. It’s a real shame to lose out on what we saw as our best opportunity at the Giro.”

Before crashes dashed plans well-executed and opportunities long-awaited, the peloton set off from Cosenza. The 203 kilometre stage took the bunch along the Ionian coast and headed toward Matera.

Today’s early break formed inside the first five kilometres. Tomas Gil (Androni Venezuela), Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox), Alan Marangoni (Cannondale), Ricardo Mestre (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Brian Bulgac (Lotto Belisol) and Rafael Andriato (Vini Fantini Selle Italia) opened a nine-minute gap along the coast. By the time the race had turned inland, the sunshine had faded to dark clouds and the break’s advantage had been halved.

“We had to collaborate with other teams to get the breakaway back,” said Stephens. “Argos-Shimano shared the work with us for Degenkolb. Both teams worked really hard, with Christian [Meier] doing most of the early chase work for us. Later, Luke [Durbridge] came up to help out, and Jens Mouris did some work before we hit the climb. It was a bit of a two-fold attack with Jens. He put pressure on to bring back the break and thin the field. It was up to the other boys to keep the pace high and make sure any riders that were lost stayed away or came back good and tired.”

Julian Dean played an important role in the stage. Having driven the course just ahead of the race, he was able to dispatch critical information back to Stephens in the caravan. Equipped with information about weather, wind direction, road conditions and width, gradient and speed at which corners could be taken, ORICA-GreenEDGE was well prepared for the projected show down in the final 30 kilometres that included a categorised climb up to Montescaglioso and an uncategorised ramp into Matera.

The joint efforts of Argos-Shimano and ORICA-GreenEDGE successfully brought the six escapees back on the lower slopes of the category four climb.

“I was with Gossy on the first climb,” said Keukeleire. “Pieter [Weening] was somewhere a bit ahead of us, and Brent was a few riders back. We stayed together on the descent and into the next climb, which they apparently don’t call a climb in Italy. Coming into town, we knew we had to be in a good position in the final corner. We started moving up over the top of the climb, and Gossy and Brent were both in the top ten going through that corner.”

Luka Mezgec (Argos-Shimano) lost his wheel on the wet roads and skidded into the barriers. Around ten riders hit the deck in his wake, and the majority of the peloton was held up by the pile-up. Keukeleire was one of a handful of riders who made it through the mayhem.

“Degenkolb and Marco Canola (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) were gone by the time I got through the corner,” explained Keukeleire. “I waited until the last 250 metres to start my sprint, and I had riders accelerating on both my right side and my left side. I wanted to follow, but one of them touched me. I was forced to brake and restart my sprint.”

“It’s really too bad about the crash,” Keukeleire continued. “We did everything we needed to do today to get a good result.”