Giro stage 5: Divine Degenkolb

Stage 5: Cosenza to Matera, 199km

John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) took his maiden win in his first ever Giro, securing victory on a crash-marred stage ahead of Angel Vicioso (Katusha) and Paul Martens (Blanco).

Giro d'Itali 2013 stage 5 winner John  Degenkolb

Degenkolb raises his arms to celebrate his first career Giro win (Image: Giro website)

I’m happy to be back in the business of winning races. For a sprinter and classics rider, every month and every week that you don’t win, it’s not a nice feeling. You’re always waiting.
John Degenkolb

But that’s not the whole story. The 24-year-old German was made to work hard, as he had to chase solo from the flamme rouge to catch and overhaul Marco Canola (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) within 200 metres of the finish. The Argonaut lead-out train was derailed on the last bend, made treacherous by an earlier deluge, which halted most of the peloton. However, all the GC contenders were credited with the same time as the winner, thereby ensuring there were no changes at the top of the overall standings, or indeed in the jerseys.

VeloVoices rider of the day

It has to be Argonaut John Degenkolb, who not only managed to stay with the leading group on the testing climb, avoid the massive pile-up in the home stretch and overtake the lone rider well ahead of him [he’d obviously read our preview – Ed], he even managed to out-swear Mark Cavendish (OPQS) in the immediate post-race interview. However, it wasn’t the F-word that moved the twitterati, rather it was his facial hair. There’s simply no excuse, John, it’s not Movember. It seems the team agree.

After today’s impressive performance, does this look like the beginning of a five-stage grand tour haul for him, like last year’s Vuelta? Will he get the better of Cav tomorrow on a stage that’ll be more to the latter’s taste? I say bring it on!

Opinion & analysis

Stage one’s injuries have forced Pablo Urtasun (Euskaltel-Euskadi) out of the race. This is the Carrots’ second piece of bad luck after their fifth man punctured in the team time trial when they were on track for the ride of their lives. If bad luck does come in threes, let’s hope they avoided picking up further injuries in today’s crash.

Hats off to the Giro organisers as at one point today it looked as if everyone and everything was going to be swept away at the finish as a veritable tsunami of water rushed down the roads. Thankfully, the mopping-up operation was successful but it still left sections of the roads in a perilous state.

It was interesting that Cadel Evans (BMC) was once again in the right place at the end of this stage, avoiding the crash and coming home without having to disentangle himself from bikes and bodies. Even though no rider lost time because of the crash, it is worth noting that for the second stage running Sky’s Bradley Wiggins was caught behind the crash but his teammate Sergio Henao was not. This is not to say that there is any question as to the leader of the team, it’s more the fact that he’s been caught out twice now, which means that the team hasn’t quite got that protective bubble around him (yet) that is so crucial for a GC contender in the nervy first week of a grand tour.

Stage 5 result

1. John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) 4:37:48

2. Angel Vicioso (Katusha) same time

3. Paul Martens (Blanco) s/t

4. Sergio Henao (Sky) s/t

5. Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) s/t

General classification

1. Luca Paolini (Katusha) 19:56:39

2. Rigoberto Uran (Sky) +0:17

3. Benat Intxausti (Movistar) +0:26

4. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) +0:31

5. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) +0:34

6. Bradley Wiggins (Sky) same time

7. Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) +0:36

8. Sergio Henao (Sky) +0:37

9. Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) +0:39

10. Cadel Evans (BMC) +0:42

Link: Official website

(Header image: Instagram by the uber-talented Jered Gruber)

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