CASTELRAIMONDO, Italy (VN) – Classics star Philippe Gilbert didn’t miss the decisive moment at Tirreno-Adriatico Sunday. Instead, the Omega Pharma-Lotto rider outsprinted a 13-rider group in Castelraimondo to capture stage 5 of the “race of the two seas.”
After his BMC Racing team laid the groundwork with a day of hard work in the rain, Cadel Evans rode into the overall leader’s maglia azzura. Previous leader Robert Gesink (Rabobank) missed a split in the final 10km and chased hard to finish a few seconds behind the leaders.
“The only stress I felt today was in the finish,” said Gilbert. “I knew the bends would slow the riders, so I was hoping for a chance and waited quietly… Today was a problem for me, but finally I win and it’s not a problem.”
The 11 riders in the first chase group came around the remaining long breakaway riders, Bakkazak Amador (Movistar) and Davide Malacarne (Quick-Step), in the final corner, 250 meters from the finish in the medieval village. Wouter Poels (Vacansoleil) led the group through the tight, uphill turn and Gilbert opened his sprint on the false flat finish straight. Katusha’s Danilo Di Luca swung wide in the corner and nearly overtook the Wallonian along the barriers at the line.
Gilbert’s win came a day after his disappointment in the steep finale in Chieti. It was on the Via Salomone that Gilbert surged early to close a gap to eventual winner Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD), but fell off the pace a half-kilometer before the line. Gilbert shook Saturday’s result off.
“I came here to do kilometers after I won Strade Bianche,” he said. “I wasn’t sad (about yesterday)… Today 15km before the finish, I began to think that it should be okay for me for the finish.”
Evans said he was surprised that such a large group came to the line, particularly with the rough, wet roads. “I’ve been racing in Italy for a few years now so I know to expect anything,” he said. “It’s always nervous and dangerous to race in.”
Evans’ teammate George Hincapie pulled the peloton over the second half of the 14km, nearly 1,000-vertical-meter Sasso Tetto midway through the stage. From there, Farnese Vini-Neri Sottol and Lampre took over, tearing the maglia azzurra group to pieces over a series of rolling climbs and tight descents into Castelraimondo.
When the lead tandem’s advantage shrank to just over a minute, BMC again came to the front with four riders – Alessandro Ballan, Greg Van Avermaet, Evans and Hincapie – to put pressure on the GC riders, but also set Van Avermaet up for the stage.
A Di Luca acceleration at the base of the Gagliole KOM, 6.5km from the finish, shed Gesink, Van Avermaet and all but the top elite riders. Scarponi and teammate Damiano Cunego were there. So too were Gilbert, Evans, Di Luca, Thomas Lövkvist (Sky), and Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale). Nibali turned up the heat on the broken road descent to town and the Wouter Poels (Vacansoleil) led the group over the top of the breakaway as the finish came into sight.
“I thought it would be difficult (to catch leaders),” said Gilbert. “Tomorrow I will be more quiet because I have less stress, but I know every point in class in World Tour is very important.”
- Mauro Santambrogio (BMC Racing) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) did not start the stage due to a tooth infection and illness, respectively.
Monday’s penultimate stage to Macerata is light fare until riders reach the murderous finish circuits in the village known for its contentious historical politics. Just 125km from the start in the Monte Sibillini National Park at the village of Ussita, the circuits pack a punch. The climbs of Madonna del Monte (1.5km at 9.4 percent, max 16 percent) and Borgo San Giuliano (500 meters at 11.3 percent, max 18 percent) will carry the power climbers to the finish straight on the narrow, 6-percent Rampa Zara. The large group together atop the Sasso Tetto Sunday may have indicated that the riders with top hopes in Monday’s finale have saved their sharpness for Macerata.
- 1. Philippe Gilbert, (BEL), Omega Pharma-Lotto, 6:43:23
- 2. Wouter Poels, (NED), Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team, at 0:00
- 3. Damiano Cunego, (ITA), Lampre-Isd, at 0:00
- 4. Danilo Di Luca, (ITA), Katusha Team, at 0:00
- 5. Andrey Amador Bakkazakova, (CRC), Movistar Team, at 0:00
- 1. Cadel Evans, (AUS), BMC Racing Team, at
- 2. Ivan Basso, (ITA), Liquigas-Cannondale, at 0:02
- 3. Damiano Cunego, (ITA), Lampre-Isd, at 0:03
- 4. Michele Scarponi, (ITA), Lampre-Isd, at 0:05
- 5. Robert Gesink, (NED), Rabobank Cycling Team, at 0:05