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Giro Notebook Stage 5: Tuft in green; Nava’ in pink

‘Nava’ keeps pink jersey in young hands

The opening days of the fight for the pink jersey are turning into a youth movement.

In Wednesday’s TTT, 21-year-old Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) ceded the pink jersey to pal and fellow young rider Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Barracuda), just 24.

Called “Nava” by his peers, Navardauskas rode steadily in the bunch Thursday to defend the maglia rosa on what was the first day for a Lithuanian to wear the jersey in Giro history.

The race jury ruled there was a split in the final sprint, however, and he lost five seconds to the sprinters, something that could prove costly if Friday’s stage comes down to a mass gallop.

Archrivals Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) and stage winner Mark Cavendish (Sky) pulled within 13 and 14 seconds, respectively, meaning a win, and the 20-second finish-line bonus, would put them into pink. Navardauskas’ teammate Robert Hunter is first in line, however, now five seconds back.

That pink jersey calculus is irrelevant for Navardauskas, who became the first Lithuanian to don the maglia rosa in Giro history when Garmin powered to victory in Wednesday’s team time trial.

Phinney, who started the stage fifth, at 13 seconds in arrears, saw his pink jersey dream fade to black in Thursday’s hilly finale.

The American crashed late and never regained contact with the bunch in the hilly final 40km of the stage. After struggling during Wednesday’s team time trial, Phinney is still showing the fallout from Monday’s heavy crash that left him with four stitches in his ankle.

Phinney crossed the line 189th, at 12:02 back.

With that, he forfeits any hope of regaining the pink jersey. The immediate goal is recovering from his bumps and bruises, and to stay in the race.

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