Ulissi wins 5th Giro stage; Matthews keeps lead
May. 14, 2014
VIGGIANO, Italy (AP) — A powerful final burst from Diego Ulissi helped the Italian cyclist win the fifth stage of the Giro d'Italia on Wednesday, while Australian rider Michael Matthews retained the overall leader's pink jersey.
Ulissi came from behind with 150 meters to go to cross the line solo, with his arms raised high in celebration at the end of the 203-kilometer (126-mile) leg from Taranto to Viggiano.
Australia's Cadel Evans was second, with Julian David Arredondo Moreno of Colombia third, both of them in a group which crossed a second behind Ulissi in the first uphill finish of this year's Giro.
"Starting as the big favorite is always difficult. I showed I was ready," Ulissi said. "So I'm enjoying this moment. I wanted this win too against the big names who were up there in the finale of the stage."
Weather again played a part, with wet and windy conditions, although there was sunshine on the five-kilometer (three-mile) climb to the finish.
Matthews fought hard to stay near the front in the final kilometer and finished sixth. He will wear the pink jersey for a fourth day, a record for an Australian cyclist.
The Orica-GreenEdge rider extended his lead to 14 seconds, with Dutchman Pieter Weening moving into second spot. Evans is third.
"I think the boys rode really well all day, they worked hard to keep me out of the wind and of problems," Matthews said. "I still haven't won a stage, which I really wanted, but I'm still in the pink jersey and we'll try again to fight to win tomorrow's stage."
There was an early break of 11 riders and, although their lead rose and fell at several points, the Orica-led peloton was happy to control the gap to an average of four minutes.
There were several attempted breaks up front with 30km (18.6 miles) to go, but none stuck and the group was back together on the penultimate climb — the first ascent up to Viggiano — just before the slippery roads caused the first big crash of the day.
There were several more crashes as the rain made the tight and technical descent even trickier.
Gianluca Brambilla attacked bravely on the descent, opening up a 30-second advantage, but Joaquin Rodriguez's Katusha team chased him down and he was caught on the final climb, setting up the scintillating finish.
Thursday's stage is another hilly finish, up to Monte Cassino, the site of a major World War II battle. At 247km (153.5 miles), it is the second longest stage of this year's race.
The Giro ends in Trieste on June 1.