Giro d’Italia: Démare sprints to stage five victory after Cavendish dropped
- Cavendish and Ewan fall back on the Portella Mandrazzi
- No major changes to GC with Juan Pedro López still in pink
Arnaud Démare won stage five of the Giro d’Italia on a day when Mark Cavendish and Caleb Ewan were caught out on a climb and left unable to contest the sprint in Messina.
Groupama-FDJ won the battle for position going into the final corner and got their reward as their rider Démare held off Fernando Gaviria and Giacomo Nizzolo to take the win. The sprint finish meant there were no major changes at the top of the general classification, with Juan Pedro López retaining the leader’s pink jersey he gained on Mount Etna. Britain’s Simon Yates remains fourth overall, one minute 42 seconds down and the best placed of the main favourites.
Victory was a repeat for Démare, who won a similar stage to this in the 2020 Giro. Just as happened then, the race split on the only categorised climb, the Portella Mandrazzi, midway through the 174km stage from Catania, with several sprinters put in trouble. With the peloton around halfway up the 20km-long climb, Mathieu van der Poel’s Alpecin-Fenix squad moved to the front and upped the pace, successfully distancing Cavendish, Ewan and, briefly at least, Démare himself.
Cavendish crossed the summit around three minutes behind the main pack with Ewan conceding five, but Démare limited his own losses and got back into the pack on the descent. Gaviria, the main victim in 2020, held on this time but had to settle for second place at the finish.
“My victory today means that in cycling we must never give up,” said Démare. “The sprint has been fluid from my point of view, even though it might have appeared chaotic. I’ve been patient before I launched the sprint. I lost a fair bit of time up the hill but my teammates have done a great job to bring me back quickly in the downhill. Then we worked hard to maintain Cavendish and Ewan behind.”
Cavendish and Ewan kept up their own forlorn chases with the help of teammates before giving it up with around 50km still remaining, deciding it was better to save energy for Thursday and another anticipated sprint in Scalea as the race moves to the Italian mainland.
“What can you do?” Cavendish said on Eurosport. “You’ve just to got to try. We were probably only about 30 seconds behind FDJ and had Caleb behind us. If we were all together we’d probably get back. We just had to give everything, the boys did everything. I’m so proud. In the end, what can you do? Of course you’re always disappointed, but we knew that was going to happen today. It would have been a bonus if we could sprint, but we have to try. We’ll try again.”
At the end of the stage, the two-time Giro winner and 2014 Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali, a native of Messina, told local media he plans to retire at the end of the season.
“I was waiting for this stage for a while, for years, it’s where I started to ride and train, so I wanted to confirm that this is my last Giro and my last season,” said the 37-year-old. “I’ve got a lot of memories from my career and a lot of things to look back on. There were good and bad moments, injuries that played a part in the outcome of my career but that’s cycling, there are always good and bad times. It’s all been incredible.”