The stage may have started tranquillo, but it fizzed like Prosecco on the mountain-top finish. Jan Polanc of Lampre-Merida took a superb solo win after being in the break all day. Behind him, all the big guns came out to play with Alberto Contador taking the maglia rosa by two seconds from Fabio Aru.
Rider of the day
Another day, another young gun solos in from a breakaway for his first professional win! How can you pick anyone else except Jan Polanc from Lampre-Merida? On a stage when the peloton and GC hopefuls were happy to let the breakaway go early, five riders forged ahead building a lead of just under 11 minutes at one point. As the chase behind heated up, they were still holding around six minutes coming into the leg-sapping 17km ascent of the Abetone.
With 10.5km to go and on the steeper gradients of the climb, the young Slovenian rider checked how his two remaining breakaway companions were doing and decided he was stronger. He rode away from the duo of Sylvains (Chavanel and Dillier), turning a huge gear to quickly build his gap. As the summit approached and the gradients eased he absolutely buried himself to stay away, mouth open and gasping for air to fill his lungs. I held my breath and willed him on as he flew under the fiamma rossa, but he didn’t falter and came over the line with a minute and a half to spare. As he said afterwards:
The first victory is always special and I’m really happy that it came at the Giro d’Italia. It’s a great present for my birthday,
Polanc was fourth on the Oropa stage at last year’s Giro, so it’s brilliant to see him come up with the goods again. I LOVE THE GIRO!!
Four things we noticed
1. Setting your stall out. As Juan Antonio Flecha explained this morning, both Astana and Tinkoff-Saxo have been vying with each other to be the boss of the peloton, to take control and ride the stage the way that suits them best. The first mountain-top finish however is where the podium hopefuls look to put their stamp on the race. I wasn’t sure if this ascent would be enough to tempt the big guns out, but I was thrilled to be put right. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) kicked things off with a blistering dancing-on-the-pedals attack, which drew out both Fabio Aru (Astana) and Richie Porte (Sky). What followed was a superb ding-dong battle between them. Aru had the advantage of a teammate with him, and this probably made the difference as he outsprinted his rivals to claim the last remaining bonus seconds for third place. So where does this leave us? Contador holds the maglia rosa, all three have taken more time from Rigoberto Uran, but I still think Astana have the strongest team. It’s going to be exciting …
2. Sticky shoe. Poor Serghei Tvetcov (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) had an eventful day as part of the five-man breakaway. First he missed a turning, ended up in the hedge and had to chase back on. His brush with the undergrowth left him with a shoe fastening broken and flapping in the wind. What to do? The team car pulled alongside and they hunted unsuccessfully for spare shoes. However, necessity is the mother of invention and Gianni Savio proved that a bit of gaffer tape really can fix anything. With his shoe taped in place, Serghei was able to ride on.
3. Best smile in the peloton. Orica-GreenEDGE have had a magnificent Giro in pink so far. We hoped that the smiley Esteban Chaves, second overall at the start of the stage behind teammate Simon Clarke, might become the fourth team member to wear the pink jersey. The whole team rode their socks off, but it wasn’t to be. But there will be plenty more stage-hunting opportunities for the young Colombian #ForzaEsteban
4. #FlechaWatch. To keep you all up to date, Juan Antonio appeared today in blue jeans and a blue shirt. He gave his top tips for recovery between gruelling stages, whether in a motor-home, villa or a hotel room. “Every single minute you spend resting and lying down is crucial.” He then proved that he is in fact Boss of the Giro by riding up the Abetone whilst commentating.
Stage 5 result
1. Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merdia) 4:09:18
2. Sylvain Chavanel (IAM) +1:31
3. Fabio Aru (Astana) same time
4. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) s/t
5. Richie Porte (Sky) s/t
1. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) 16:05:54
2. Fabio Aru (Astana) +0:02
3. Richie Porte (Sky) +0:20
4. Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) +0.22
5. Dario Cataldo (Astana) +0:28
6. Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) +0.37
7. Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) +0:56
8. Mikel Landa (Astana) +1:01
9. Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Garmin) +1:15
10. Andrey Amador (Movistar) +1:18
Points leader: Elia Viviani (Sky).
King of the Mountains leader: Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida).
Best young rider: Fabio Aru (Astana).
Team classification: Astana.
Link: Official race website