A late surge from Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) in the pouring rain landed him his second stage victory in the 2019 Giro d’Italia.
The German national champion, riding in the jersey of the Giro points leader, took the fifth stage by half a wheel from Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Emirates) after coming out of his slipstream in the final 100m.
“It was a two times sprint for me because I had to brake in the last 250m,” said grand tour debutant Ackermann. “Luckily Gaviria was the perfect leadout man for me.”
With water pooling on the road and corners made treacherous by the day-long rain, the sprint was thankfully uncomplicated by the meddling of GC riders.
After two fast-finishing stages in which prominent riders lost time due to crashes, a decision was made -due to the weather- to record everyone’s finish on the first passage of the line, ahead of a 9.2km lap around Terracina.
“It meant the sprint teams could play without the GC teams getting in the way,” noted Ackerman’s team mate Jay McCarthy.
However, Tom Dumoulin is now definitely out of the overall challenge. Having lost four minutes after crashing on Tuesday, he took the start nursing a swollen knee but abandoned at the end of the neutralised zone.
Five riders made the early break on the largely flat 140km leg down the coast south of Rome, and Dumoulin’s team mate Louis Verveacke was the last of them remaining. With the Belgian having attacked the other four on the day’s only categorised climb, he stayed out front until just over 20km to go.
With the ruling about finish times already announced, the GC teams then patrolled their leaders in a civilised manner to the finish circuit. That sorted, it left only those who wished to participate for the stage win to fight for a position near the front.