Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credit: Luca Bettini / AFP 20:28 p.m., May 10, 2023Taking advantage of a sparse peloton after a crash knocked Remco Evenepoel down two kilometres from the finish line, Kaden Groves won the fifth stage of the Giro d'Italia in a sprint ahead of Jonathan Milan and Mads Pedersen. Andreas Leknessund remains leader in the overall standings.
Australia's Kaden Groves won the fifth stage of the Giro d'Italia in a sprint on Wednesday, which turned into a bowling alley in the final in Salerno as Remco Evenepoel fell twice, including one because of a dog. It was supposed to be a simple day of transition, daredevil without presenting any particular dangers or traps, despite the pouring rain. But, it almost turned the Giro upside down when, after about twenty kilometers, in a village, a dog crossed the road, unbalancing a rider of Soudal-Quick-Step, the Evenepoel team.
By a domino game, the world champion went to the ground in turn. Sitting in the gravel on the side of the road, he took time to get up, before leaving on a new bike, accompanied by four teammates, raising a reassuring thumb in front of the camera. The Belgian's woes were not over. He fell a second time, this time in a chaotic final, less than three kilometers from the finish, at a time when the rankings are frozen. There too without apparent damage but he crossed the line visibly upset.
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"A priori there is nothing broken but we will check and communicate tonight," said the Flemish team who remains second in the general classification behind the Norwegian Andreas Leknessund. That animals cross the road as the riders pass regularly happens on bike races: dogs, sheep and even cows as in 2015 in the Tourmalet during the Tour de France.
In history, several champions have paid to know it. Like Marco Pantini who had to abandon the Giro in 1997 after a fall caused by a cat (black, obviously) in the descent of the Valico di Chiunzi, which the peloton will take this Friday. Some riders will have to lick their wounds between now and then after Wednesday's final, marked by a festival of falls on a wet road.
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Roglic also falls
The first, at low speed, split the peloton in two less than seven kilometers from the finish. Primoz Roglic, Evenepoel's great rival, notably fell. "Everything is fine, it could have been much worse," commented the Slovenian. Evenepoel then went to the ground for the second time. And it was not over since Mark Cavendish bit the asphalt in a very spectacular way just a few meters from the line that he still managed to cross, belly to the ground.
Survivor of this bowling game, Groves (Alpecin) raised his arms ahead of the Italian Jonathan Milan and the Dane Mads Pedersen. "It's a dream, I've had this race in mind since this winter," said the 24-year-old Australian, who had already won the Vuelta in September. Before this eventful finale, the stage was rather boring, marked by a breakaway of three riders, the Frenchman Thomas Champion and the Italians Samuele Zoccarato and Stefano Gandin, held on a leash by the teams of sprinters.
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Pinot retains the blue jersey
For the rest, Thibaut Pinot, who says he is not really interested in the blue jersey of best climber, continues to defend it day after day. On Wednesday, he immediately took the breakaway to get a few points in the mountain classification at the top of the first hill listed, before getting up immediately.
The French climber is too dangerous for the other leaders of the general classification and his presence would have irreparably condemned the breakaway. She was therefore able to experience a few more hours of freedom, before being swallowed by the peloton. "It was a very stressful day. Italy is good when the weather is nice. But we are in a region where it slides a lot, "commented Thibaut Pinot.