Stage profile: A flat, straight stage for over 170km before a series of tricky small climbs late on and a flat final 13km.
Top three: 1. Mark Cavendish (Sky), 2. Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE), 3. Daniele Bennati (RadioShack-Nissan).
Who was in the breakaway?: Alessandro De Marchi (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), Pier Paolo De Negri (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia), Brian Bulgac (Lotto-Belisol), Olivier Kaisen (Lotto-Belisol). They built a lead of over six minutes, but never looked likely to stay away.
How the stage was won: De Marchi was the last member of the breakaway to be caught, with about 17km to go. By then, however, a series of small climbs in the final 35km had seen several sprinters spat out of the back of the peloton, including Garmin’s Tyler Farrar, Farnese Vini’s Andrea Guardini, Saxo Bank’s J J Haedo and Andron’s Robert Ferrari, the perpetrator of the crash in the final sprint at the end of Sunday’s stage three. Sky kept their powder dry, only coming to the front of the pack in the final 10km and holding off all challengers to maintain control of the pace-line and drop off Mark Cavendish in the perfect position to launch the sprint. The rainbow jersey did the rest, holding off the late charge of Matt Goss to win by close to a bike length, and dispelling any doubts about the lingering after-effects of Sunday’s crash.
Quote of the day: Cavendish was delighted to win in front of some very special guests:
We were able to commit all our guys at the end and we took the race up with 10km to go and it was textbook work from the team. I’m even more happy because my girlfriend and my daughter are here and I had my daughter on the podium. It’s the first race she’s been to watch me at and I’m so happy to make her proud and win for her here.
Odd occurrences: Saxo Bank’s Lucas Haedo initiated a crash inside the final 40km when he ran into the back of the rider in front of him while busily looking backwards over his shoulder to find his brother. There goes his no-claims bonus! The increasingly unfortunate Taylor Phinney was one of the riders caught up in the incident. As the former race leader chased down the peloton, he almost came to grief as he was clipped by a RadioShack-Nissan team car. The young American must have walked under one ladder too many …
VeloVoices rider of the stage: Not a rider, but a celebrity spectator. Cavendish’s five-week old daughter Delilah attended her first Giro finish, and even participated in the podium ceremony. She seemed fairly blasé about the whole affair. Mind you, that’s perhaps understandable given that her dad does win an awful lot! Unfortunately, Delilah was not available for comment after the stage.
1. Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Barracuda) 14:45:13
2. Robert Hunter (Garmin-Barracuda) +0:05
3. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) +0:11
4. Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) +0:13
5. Mark Cavendish (Sky) +0:14
Points leader: Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE).
King of the Mountains leader: Alfredo Balloni (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia).
Tomorrow: Stage 6 – Urbino to Porto Sant’Elpidio, 210km. The first medium mountains of this year’s race. If today’s parcours was the archetypal flat stage, tomorrow’s can only be described as lumpy. The riders will have to tackle strade bianche dirt roads, gravel climbs and the second category Passo della Cappella at half-distance, which includes sections of up to 15%. The final 60km is constantly undulating too, so expect a breakaway or a relatively small peloton to contest the finish, although a flat run-in offers an opportunity for chasers to latch back on.
And here is Cycling the Alps‘ fly-over of the route:
Link: Official website