Giro d'Italia: Bradley Wiggins remains sixth as John Degenkolb wins dramatic fifth stage
John Degenkolb sprinted to victory on stage five of the Giro d'Italia as Bradley Wiggins remained sixth.
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 09/05/13 10:22am
The day had been set to end in a bunch finish, but the peloton was blown apart 2km from the line in Matera when one of Degenkolb's Argos-Shimano team-mates, Luka Mezgec, fell on wet road.
Italy's Marco Canolo (Bardiani Valvole - CSF Inox) seized the opportunity to launch a solo bid for victory, but he was caught 300m from home by the charging Degenkolb, who had avoided the incident and went on to clinch his first Giro stage win.
Wiggins and his rivals for overall victory were all held up by the crash, but because it happened inside the final 3km, they were all given the same time as the winner and the general classification remains unchanged.
It means Italy's Luca Paolini (Katusha) retains the leader's pink jersey for a third day, with Wiggins 34 seconds behind and three seconds adrift of Italy's Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) in fourth.
Degenkolb said afterwards: "My lead-out man crashed. There was one guy still in front from Bardiani [Canolo]. I went full gas to make it to the finish and catch the guy from Bardiani back. In the end I couldn't see anything I was so empty.
"It was a great job from my team today. We controlled the whole race and we had the confidence and took the responsibility. It is a great day for Argos-Shimano."
Stage five took the riders on a 203km, largely flat route along Italy's southern Ionian coastline from Cosenza to Matera.
The only obstacles on the parcours were two climbs inside the final 25km, with the first being a category-four ascent that would prove a crucial test for pure sprinters such as Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step).
Six riders mounted an early breakaway, but were soon reduced to just five when Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole - CSF Inox) suffered a mechanical problem and dropped back. Although the remaining quintet built up a lead of eight minutes, the advantage tumbled as they came under pressure from an Argos-Shimano-led peloton ahead of the first climb, the Montescaglioso.
They were eventually swallowed up on its lower slopes, 22km out, and while Ben Gastauer (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Robert Vrecer (Euskaltel-Euskadi) attacked out of the front of the peloton, attention turned to the sprinters at the back.
Cavendish battled valiantly up the steep inclines of the climb, but crested the summit 57 seconds down on the front of the race and was unable to regain contact.
Gastauer and Vrecer, meanwhile, were joined by Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol) ahead of the final, uncategorised climb, but they failed to open up a sustainable gap and were soon caught.
With the last ascent safely negotiated, the sprinters' teams returned to the front of the peloton, yet with heavy rain having fallen on Matera earlier in the day, the road was slick and the decisive crash was almost inevitable.
Watch highlights of stage five on Sky Sports 2HD from 10pm
Stage five result
1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Argos-Shimano, 4:37:48
2 Angel Vicioso (Spa) Katusha, same time
3 Paul Martens (Ger) Blanco, st
4 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky, st
5 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, st
6 Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia, st
7 Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC, st
8 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEDGE, st
9 Grega Bole (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM, st
10 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana
1 Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha, 19:56:39
2 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Team Sky, +17secs
3 Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar, +26
4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, +31
5 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp, +34
6 Sir Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky, same time
7 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha, +36
8 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky, +37
9 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini-Fantini, +39
10 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC, +42
Red (points classification) - John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano)
Blue (mountains classification) - Giovanni Visconti (Movistar)
White (best young rider) - Fabio Aru (Astana)