Top ten for Ewan and a day in the breakaway for Txurruka

Wed 11 May 2016

Young Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan finished in ninth place for ORICA-GreenEDGE on stage five of the Giro d’Italia today gaining more valuable experience as Esteban Chaves finished safely in the bunch alongside the other race favourites.

Spanish climber Amets Txurruka spent more than 200kilometres out front in a breakaway of four riders who worked well together for most of the day and made life very difficult for the peloton in the final stages of the race.

The race came back together with only six kilometres remaining and a fast and frantic finish saw crashes occur just before Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) sprinted to the stage victory from 300metres out.

2014 Giro d’Italia stage winner Luka Mezgec brought Ewan into the final kilometre but the crowded and chaotic finale meant that the 21-year-old had too much ground to make up on Greipel.

Sport director Matt White was satisfied with how the day went for the team.

“We were waiting to see if a bigger group would escape in the first hour of the race,” said White. “When that didn’t happen we decided to send Amets (Txurruka) up there to see if we could make something stick and in the end it worked out well for us.”

“They were away for nearly 200kilometres and the advantage that gives us is that we can conserve energy by not needing to get involved in trying to bring the breakaway back.

“The sprint was really chaotic,” continued White. “There was a slight incline leading up to the line and it was always going to be difficult for Caleb (Ewan) to get out of the pack and try to break clear on the cobbled streets.”

“We have the first mountain stage tomorrow and we are very satisfied with our position going into the first real test for the general classification contenders. Esteban (Chaves) rode well again today and finished up near the front so we did not lose any time or see any real positional changes.”

How it happened:

Stage five got underway in the Calabrian seaside town of Praia a Mare and immediately hit the backside of the Via del Fortino climb to take the field up and away from the coast. With 233kilometres ahead and around 3,000 metres of elevation on the climbs it was a relatively pedestrian start to the stage.

Close to 40kilometres had been covered before the first attacks began to form with Txurruka of ORICA-GreenEDGE one of four riders to make up the initial breakaway group of the day. Yet again it was a quartet who had escaped as the peloton sat up and allowed the move to go clear and develop an advantage of over four minutes after 50kilometres of racing.

As the parcours began to level out approaching the 100kilometre mark the four leaders had increased their advantage to over six minutes ahead of the peloton. As the kilometres wore away the four leaders continued to work well together beyond the halfway point of the stage.

With 90kilometres to go the quartet out front had four minutes 50seconds on the peloton who had now increased the velocity of the chase. Txurruka was still heavily involved at the front but it was Daniel Oss (BMC) who had claimed the intermediate sprint points before crashing on a descent and then regaining contact with his breakaway companions.

Heading into the final 60kilometres of the race the peloton began to noticeably increase the speed of the chase but the four leaders were still four minutes ahead when Team-Sky and Giant-Alpecin began exchanging pulls with Lotto-Soudal. Ten kilometres later and the advantage had fallen to three minutes with 50kilometres left until the finish.

The fast rolling roads that approached the finish town of Benevento saw the peloton gain more time back on the four leaders who had under two minutes on the bunch with 30kilometres left to race.

The advantage of the front quartet was fading rapidly despite valiant efforts to stay away and the field was brought back together with only six kilometres remaining. The race was now shaping up for a bunch sprint and the finish proved to be hectic on the narrow cobbled streets.

A crash going into the final kilometre caused chaos in the peloton with a group of around twenty riders led by Lotto-Soudal breaking clear to contest the sprint. Mezgec brought Ewan into the final few hundred metres and from then on the 21-year-old jumped from wheel to wheel to try and maintain position.

Greipel hit out early and broke clear of the field managing to hold onto to his lead of a few metres and take it all the way to the line. Ewan finished in ninth place within the pack of riders sprinting for second.

Tomorrow’s stage six covers 157kilometres from Ponte to Roccaraso and is the first real mountain stage of the 2016 race. The summit finish comes after the field has covered numerous severe climbs and technical descents that include tunnels and cliff edge corners.

Giro d’Italia stage five results:

1. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) 05:40:35
2. Arnaud Demare (FDJ) ST
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bradiani-CSF) ST
9. Caleb Ewan (ORICA-GreenEDGE) ST  

General classification after stage five:

1. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) 19:40:48
2.  Bob Jungels (Etixx-quickstep) 00:00:16
3.  Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) 00:00:20
11. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 00:00:37