Battaglin wins Giro stage 5. Froome bides his time.

Timing is everything

Enrico Battaglin (LottoNL-Jumbo) has better timing than Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida). It was the difference between chilled Champagne and a warm Coke.

As the road pitched up into Santa Ninfa, he waited as Visconti drove hard into the final corner and then sprinted uphill. However, it was Battaglin who closed the gap with a steady, confident acceleration that took him past Visconti and into first place.

The 153 kilometer stage from Agrigento to Santa Ninja was punctuated by a large crash towards the back third of the peloton that took down what looked to be a dozen riders, including Maximilian Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors) and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida). Incredibly, both were able to work their way back into the main group and then join the final attacks for victory. Schachmann even managed to take fourth place, an impressive performance by the leader in the Best Young Rider competition.

Battaglin finished third in yesterday’s stage to Caltagirone and managed a significant upgrade on day two in Sicily. “This year I’ve finally found a good vein of form and started the Giro feeling good. I was strong yesterday and so had to try again today. Yesterday was really a powerful sprint on a really steep climb. Today was a steep climb but at 2km to go and I had a little bit of time to recover and so then do a really good sprint,” said the Italian. He now has three stage victories in the Giro d’Italia and is therefore good for a free glass of Barolo anytime, anywhere in Italy.

It was a day of opposites for maglia rosa Rohan Dennis (BMC) and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana). The Australian kept his pink jersey and described his day as a fairly easy one. “It was a nice day on the bike, on quite a slow pace because of the head wind,” said Dennis. “I felt a bit of stress every now and then, but I am glad to be in the Maglia Rosa. We’re only on day five, that means 16 days to go. Tomorrow will be another story with the Etna. I’m looking forward to seeing how I’ll go up there.”

Meanwhile, Lopez continues his unlucky and miserable start to this Giro. A dark horse for a high GC finish, Lopez had already lost time a few days earlier and today, with 5.5 kilometers to ride, he overshot a left hand bend and tumbled into the dry grass. He escaped injury but could not avoid losing another chunk of time. He now finds himself in 39rd place, 1:53 off the time of Dennis. Team manager Alexandre Vinokourov is not going to be pleased and you don’t want Vino mad at you.

With a summit finish on Mount Etna on Thursday, everyone is beginning to wonder about the level of Chris Froome’s form. The team Sky captain made little impression on the short, punchy climb up to Santa Ninfa but perhaps he was saving every watt of energy for the thrown-down on Etna.

Froome said he expects plenty of action on what’s billed as the first mountain stage of the Giro. “Obviously a lot of pure climbers who don’t fancy their chances in the time trial against Dumoulin who will be wanting to take time on him, and it’s the first big mountain stage of the Giro d’Italia,” said Froome. “It could be very explosive and very active towards the final.”

One man who will be totally relaxed on Etna will be Enrico Battaglin. He’s got his big win for the year. Etna will be somebody else’s prize.


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