Arnaud Demare sprints to Giro d’Italia stage win after Mark Cavendish is dropped on climb

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Arnaud Démare - Arnaud Demare sprints to Giro d'Italia stage win after Mark Cavendish is dropped on climb - GETTY IMAGES

Arnaud Démare – Arnaud Demare sprints to Giro d’Italia stage win after Mark Cavendish is dropped on climb – GETTY IMAGES

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 (UAE Team Emirtaes) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel-Premier Tech) to take the win.

The sprint finish meant there were no major changes at the top of the general classification, with Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) retaining the leader’s pink jersey he gained on Mount Etna on Tuesday.

British rider Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) remains fourth overall, 1min 42sec 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.

Arnaud Demare sprints to Giro d'Italia stage win after Mark Cavendish is dropped on climb - GETTY IMAGESArnaud Demare sprints to Giro d'Italia stage win after Mark Cavendish is dropped on climb - GETTY IMAGES

Arnaud Demare sprints to Giro d’Italia stage win after Mark Cavendish is dropped on climb – GETTY IMAGES

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.

Cavendish and Ewan kept up their own forlorn chases with the help of team-mates 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?

Mark Cavendish - Arnaud Demare sprints to Giro d'Italia stage win after Mark Cavendish is dropped on climb - GETTY IMAGESMark Cavendish - Arnaud Demare sprints to Giro d'Italia stage win after Mark Cavendish is dropped on climb - GETTY IMAGES

Mark Cavendish – Arnaud Demare sprints to Giro d’Italia stage win after Mark Cavendish is dropped on climb – GETTY IMAGES

“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, 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.

The Giro continues on Thursday with the 192km sixth stage from Palmi to Scalea and concludes in Verona on May 29.
PA

Giro d’Italia stage five: As it happened . . .

01:51 PM

Démare wins stage five at the Giro d’Italia

Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) has won stage five at the Giro d’Italia to land his first grand tour stage since 2020.

After getting dropped on the only climb of the day, Démare managed to reconnect with the peloton before his Groupama-FDJ team-mates did a brilliant job at making sure the likes of Mark Cavendish (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) and Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), who also lost contact on the climb, were unable to get back on. Once onto the flat Groupama-FDJ controlled the stage and delivered their man to the line, before Démare executed his finish to perfection, the Frenchman outsprinting Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel-Premier Tech) to the line. The stage win propelled Démare ​into the maglia ciclamino, the jersey he won in 2020 after clinching four stages in that edition of the race.

Seconds after the finish, Démare said: “I’m super happy to win at the Giro. 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 team-mates have done a great job to bring me back quickly in the downhill. Then we worked hard to maintain Cavendish and Ewan behind. My victory today means that in cycling we must never give up.”

Cavendish, meanwhile, sounded phlegmatic when discussing the stage with former rider and Eurosport pundit Hannah Walker. “What can you do?” Cavendish said. “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.”

Davide Ballerini (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) was fourth, while Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) finished fifth despite getting boxed in in the final 200 metres of the race.

Other than Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) moving up a place to sixth, there were no major changes in the general classification and so Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) will wear the leader’s pink jersey for a second day on Thursday, while Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) held onto his top spot in the mountains classification.

01:50 PM

1km to go

Romain Bardet did a brief turn for his DSM team-mates, but Cofidis are now on the front riding for their sprinter Simone Consonni.

01:49 PM

2km to go

And Alpecin-Fenix are on the front, but Mathieu van der Poel is sitting off their wheels.

01:49 PM

3km to go

Bora-Hansgrohe are on the front, while the general classification riders can now breathe having passed the 3km to go marker.

01:48 PM

4km to go

The bunch is riding in an arrow-head formation, hitting a right-hand turn as it heads towards the city centre of Messina. Remember, there’s a slight downhill section in the final kilometre where, I’ve heard, there’s a slight headwind which may hinder any solo attacks.

01:46 PM

5km to go

A Cofidis rider – Simone Consonni? – is on the front.

01:46 PM

6km to go

Mathieu van der Poel is shuffling his way up through the pack.

01:45 PM

7km to go

Groupama-FDJ are making their move, hoping to set-up their French sprinter Arnaud Démare for what would be his first WorldTour win since his unforgettable sequence of victories in 2020 . . . at the Giro.

01:43 PM

8km to go

EF Education-EasyPost and DSm are moving up the field, Trek-Segafredo are dead centre, alongside UAE Team Emirates. Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux are sat in the middle, poised, waiting for their man Biniam Girmay have another crack at making history – the Eritrean would become the first black African rider to win a grand tour stage if he were to prevail here today.

01:41 PM

10km to go

The entire width of these Sicilian roads are filled with the bunch – they are flying along at 60km/h. Nervous few minutes incoming.

01:39 PM

12km to go

Bahrain Victorious and their main sprinter Phil Bauhaus are at the front now, while Ineos Grenadiers are sat alongside them – all of the general classification teams are fighting for position as they do their best to keep their respective leaders safe. Some of them, like the aforementioned DSM and Bahrain Victorious, have dual ambitions.

01:37 PM

13.5km to go

DSM are getting into position, the German squad has two potential winners – Cees Bol and Alberto Dainese – while their general classification rider Romain Bardet will want to avoid any crashes.

01:35 PM

15km to go

Mathieu van der Poel is sat near the rear of the bunch, but do not rule him out. I suspect the Dutchman will be there or thereabouts once the pace winds up in 10 minutes or so.

01:33 PM

18km to go

For the first time all day, I’ve spotted EF Education-EasyPost who have numbers near the front. Are they hoping for Magnus Cort to do a very Magnus Cort sort of move and pounce in the final kilometre?

01:29 PM

20km to go

With the peloton nearing the finale of today’s stage, now is probably an opportune time to have a quick look at the last 3km of the stage. Here’s what the race organisers have to say about it . . .

With nearly 4 km to go, the course leaves the trunk road and kicks up into urban Messina. The route continues along broad city avenues, initially downhill, then up again until the 1,500 m marker, and then takes a short descent. There is one final bend 800 m before the finish line, which sits on 7.5 m wide, flat and asphalt road.

finalefinale

finale

01:24 PM

25km to go

Interesting to see that Astana Qazaqstan are up near the front of the leading bunch. Is the Messina-born Vincenzo Nibali thinking of giving his fans something to cheer? The finale doesn’t really suit the 27-year-old, but he is reportedly planning on retiring at the end of the season and so this could be his final race on his home roads.

01:18 PM

Game over for Cavendish . . .

Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl and Mark Cavendish have pulled the parachute and given up the chase, no doubt saving their matches for another day. Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), too, has also sat up and will soft pedal his way to the line before switching his focus to Thursday’s stage.

01:16 PM

30km to go

Mathieu van der Poel is looking very relaxed. The powerful Dutchman is chatting away with a team-mate as if out on a Sunday morning club ride. Considering the speed they are riding and the stress levels that must be coursing through the bunch, that’s pretty incredible.

01:13 PM

33km to go

No sign of Mark Cavendish and his Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl team-mates. I think that may be his day done.

01:08 PM

37.2km to go

Some clever riding from Ben Swift who clips off the front of the bunch to take a 3sec time bonus, and thus denying team-mate Richard Carapaz’s general classification rivals the opportunity to gain time. Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) was second which would see the Portuguese leapfrog Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) to seventh overall. Almeida’s team-mate Diego Ulissi took third (1sec).

01:02 PM

40km to go

Arnaud Démare is sat is the bunch looking fairly relaxed, the dials on his Sidi cycling shoes appear to flipped up, the Frenchman will tighten them up on the run-in to Messina ahead of his sprint.

12:59 PM

44km to go

Alpecin-Fenix take over on the front of the bunch for a few turns, before they are replaced by Groupama-FDJ.

12:54 PM

48km to go

Israel-Premier Tech are, for the first time in this year’s Giro (I think), riding hard on the front. Touch-and-go if Mark Cavendish is going to regain contact with the leading group, and with tomorrow’s stage also looking like a day for the sprinters I’m starting to wonder if/when Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl decide to pull the parachute.

12:46 PM

55km to go

Groupama-FDJ take over on the front of the peloton, setting a fast tempo on behalf of their sprinter Arnaud Démare. UAE Team Emirates are up there for Fernando Gaviria too, as are Israel-Premier Tech who will be hoping their Italian fastman Giacomo Nizzolo can contest for the stage win in around an hour’s time.

Mark Cavendish has gained a few seconds on the bunch, the British sprinter, however, trails by 1min 56sec. Worth noting that Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) are also well positioned.

12:41 PM

59km to go | As it stands . . .

Mark Cavendish trails peloton by 1min 57sec.

Caleb Ewan at 4min 7sec.

12:34 PM

64.5km to go

Mark Cavendish trails the stage leaders by 2min 15sec. I’m almost certain I just heard Cavendish shout “I’m sorry” to a team-mate. Cavendish and his Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl team-mates are ain a group of around 20riders, but not everybody in their will want to help close the gap. Some of them may, in fact, busy themselves disrupting the chase – if they have a sprinter in the front group, why would they help one of the world’s best sprinters get back on?

12:32 PM

66.3km to go

Game over for the breakaway.

12:29 PM

70km to go

The four-man breakaway of Mattia Bias, Jaakko Hanninen, Mirco Maestri and Alessandro Tonelli is more or less off the descent, pretty flat run-in all the way to the finishing line in Messina.

12:26 PM

73.5km to go

Arnaud Démare has managed to regain contact with the peloton, while according to the graphics on TV, Mark Cavendish is over two minutes down the road which, if true, will be a bit of a concern for his team who will have targeted this stage.

12:22 PM

75km to go

Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) and his breakaway colleagues Mattia Bias (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli), Jaakko Hanninen (Ag2r-Citroën) and Mirco Maestri (Eolo-Kometa) are not giving up their lead without a fight, but they hold just 9sec over the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux-powered peloton. No updates on Mark Cavendish, Caleb Ewan or Arnaud Démare which is a little frustrating. Hopefully some updates soon.

12:16 PM

80km to go

Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux are on the front, followed by Trek-Segafredo and UAE Team Emirates. It looks as if the breakaway will be extinguished very soon – their lead has been slashed to 16sec.

12:12 PM

83km to go

Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux are still on the front of the peloton, but nobody is lending a hand. Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), who won a very similar stage to this one in 2020, is 30sec down on the peloton which is inching ever closer to the breakaway.

12:05 PM

90km to go

Caleb Ewan has three team-mates – Roger Kluge, Michael Schwarzmann and Rüdiger Selig – helping him now. Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux are leading the peloton down the descent, but they don’t look to be in too much of a rush, which seems a little odd to me. I would have thought they would have wanted to turn the screw on Mark Cavendish and Caleb Ewan with an eye on the stage win for Biniam Girmay.

12:03 PM

92.5km to go

The entire race is on the descent now. The peloton dos not appear to be riding at full pelt, which may be good news for Mark Cavendish. The road surface looks to be in reasonable condition, long sweeping bends with a number of switchbacks and, thankfully, dry asphalt.

12:00 PM

95.5km to go

Caleb Ewan goes over the top, but he may have left himself with too much to do if he wants to contest for the stage today. I reckon he must be around 4min down on the peloton, perhaps a little longer.

11:59 AM

97.5km to go

Mark Cavendish has just crested the summit. He still has four team-mates alongside him, the quintet trail the stage leaders by around 3min, the peloton by about 2min.

11:54 AM

99.5km to go

The breakaway has crested the Portella Mandrazi climb, their lead having dipped to below a minute just shy of the summit. Mark Cavendish still trails the peloton, as does Caleb Ewan. Both sprinters will be hoping to chase back on once onto the descent, but if the peloton rides down this mountain at full gas they may struggle. Either way, they will be using some energy that they would prefer not to.

11:48 AM

102.5km to go

Caleb Ewan is around two minutes down on the peloton after Alpecin-Fenix increased the pace. Mathieu van der Poel‘s team must be riding at a decent pace, the breakaway’s advantage is just 1min 15sec now.

11:43 AM

104.5km to go

Mark Cavendish has been dropped on this climb, but the Manxman is surrounded by a phalanx of Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl team-mates (as you can see in the below video clip from discovery+ who are broadcasting the race live) who will guide him to the summit with the intention of closing the gap on the peloton before reaching Messina. Caleb Ewan has also lost contact with the peloton, and the Australian sprinter has just one team-mate – Rüdiger Selig – for company.

11:40 AM

105km to go

Alpecin-Fenix have shifted a couple of riders up towards the front of the peloton. Are they thinking about setting things up for Mathieu van der Poel to launch a long-range solo attack? Whatever the plan, that injection in pace has seen the breakaway’s lead drop to 2min 15sec.

11:35 AM

107.5km to go

The peloton is inching its way up this long, but steady, climb. Most of the riders are twiddling away, pedalling at a high cadence. The breakaway’s lead has dropped to below three minutes for the first time since it formed almost two hours ago.

11:30 AM

As it stands . . .

Not a great deal to report from the opening 65km of the stage, it has been a fairly routine day thus far. Unsurprisingly, a number of riders attacked from the starting flag at 10.47am before a five-man breakaway comprising Mattia Bias (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli), Jaakko Hanninen (Ag2r-Citroën), Mirco Maestri (Eolo-Kometa), Filippo Tagliani (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli) and Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) formed at the front.

Team-mates Bias and Tagliani have already been in two of the three breakaways in this year’s Giro. As a result, Bias leads the fuga classification – the competition that rewards breakaway specialists where riders earn points for each kilometre spent in the break – and Tagliani tops the standings in the intermediate sprint competition.

Mattia Bias (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli), Jaakko Hanninen (Ag2r-Citroën), Mirco Maestri (Eolo-Kometa), Filippo Tagliani (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli) and Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) - GETTY IMAGESMattia Bias (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli), Jaakko Hanninen (Ag2r-Citroën), Mirco Maestri (Eolo-Kometa), Filippo Tagliani (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli) and Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) - GETTY IMAGES

Mattia Bias (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli), Jaakko Hanninen (Ag2r-Citroën), Mirco Maestri (Eolo-Kometa), Filippo Tagliani (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli) and Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) – GETTY IMAGES

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) assumed his position on the front of the peloton, the Belgian setting the pace while monitoring the gap of the breakaway riders no doubt thinking about his team-mate Caleb Ewan who will be hoping to contest a sprint finish later on this afternoon. Groupama-FDJ (Arnaud Démare) and Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl (Mark Cavendish) have put riders up near the front, too, with the sprinters’ teams sharing the workload between them.

Pieter Serry (left) and Thomas De Gendt  - GETTY IMAGESPieter Serry (left) and Thomas De Gendt  - GETTY IMAGES

Pieter Serry (left) and Thomas De Gendt – GETTY IMAGES

Once the breakaway reached the first of the two intermediate sprints, Hanninen attacked but was reined back in by Tagliani who took maximum points – and a nice €500 bonus – to extend his lead in that particular competition. Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) clipped off the front of the peloton unchallenged to take sixth and a single point in the race for the maglia ciclamino. Once through the intermediate sprint, the road continued ramping up into the 19.6km long Portella Mandrazzi climb. With an average gradient of 4% it should not prove too tricky for the sprinters, but it will be interesting to see if any of Cavendish, Démare or Ewan’s rival teams decide to test them.

08:00 AM

What’s on today’s menu?

There’s a large climb in the middle of the stage, but do not let that make you think this is one for the climbers. Peaking 100km from the finishing line, there will be plenty of time for any stragglers to reconvene with the leading group and contest what is expected to be the second bunch gallop of this year’s Giro d’Italia. In theory.

Of course, if a decent sized breakaway group forms then the stage may not play out like this, but there are enough teams keen on the day ending in a sprint meaning there should be some collaboration in the bunch. The obvious caveat to that being: does anybody really want to go head-to-head with an in-form Mark Cavendish and his well-drilled Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl lead-out team?

After winning stage three on Sunday, Cavendish is the favourite for the win today but will certainly not be receiving any gifts from the peloton once the stage rolls into Messina. Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) will be hoping for a better result than his eighth-placed finish on Sunday, as will Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) who won a similar looking stage in Sicily in 2020 en route to the Frenchman winning the maglia ciclamino. All of the other sprint specialists – Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel-Premier Tech), Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious) – will be hoping to get in the mix, while we should not discount Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), who will be defending his points jersey, and Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux).

So, what does the stage look like?

stage fivestage five

stage five

Here’s what the roadbook says about the stage…

Stage five is a short stage, with an uncomplicated climb, mid-course, up Portella Mandrazzi. From Catania, to just outside Taormina, the roads are fairly wide and mostly flat, but twist and wind, with only a few straight stretches.

After leaving the coastline, the route takes in the long Portella Mandrazzi climb (avg. gradient: 4%), followed by a lengthy descent that will lead the peloton to the northern coast of the island. Over the final 70km, the stage follows the shoreline. The roads here are wide, flat and straight, with a few urban areas along the route.

With nearly 4km to go, the course leaves the trunk road and kicks up into urban Messina. The route continues along broad city avenues, initially downhill, then up again until the 1,500m marker, where it takes a short descent. There is one final bend at 800m before the finish line.

08:00 AM

Catch up: Highlights from Tuesday’s stage

There may not have been the big general classification battle many had hoped for, but the stage to Mount Etna did not disappoint when it came to entertainment and intrigue. Miguel Ángel López (Astana Qazaqstan) was forced to abandon early in the stage, Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) was caught up in a minor crash resulting in the Briton needing assistance from the race doctor. Breakaway rider Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) went all the way to the line to land the stage and Ineos Grenadiers turned back the clock and rode as if they were Team Sky leading to some suggestions that they may have scored a bit of an own-goal by burning one too many matches in the finale. Anyway, here are the highlights from the stage . . .

08:00 AM

Ciao!

Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage five at the Giro d’Italia, the 174-kilometre run from Catania to Messina.

Following yesterday’s summit finish on Mount Etna, the focus today switches to the fastmen with a stage that is expected to conclude in a sprint finish, but before we have a look at the course let’s have a quick recap of the early standings in the top classifications – the competitions where jerseys are awarded to the leaders.

Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo), the Spaniard who finished Tuesday’s stage second behind Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe), will wear the maglia rosa, or leader’s pink jersey, for the first time in his career. The Spaniard who leads the second biggest stage race in world cycling has no professional wins on his palmarès, but now holds two leader’s jerseys. Little wonder he was a little emotional on Tuesday evening. “I am so happy to take the jersey,” the 24-year-old said on Tuesday after becoming the first Spaniard since Alberto Contador in 2015 to take hold of the maglia rosa. “I didn’t believe in the moment when someone told me I had the pink jersey. After 10mins I finally realised it. I will enjoy it today, tomorrow – I don’t know how many days I will have it, but I will enjoy every moment.”

There were no changes at the top of the points classification on Tuesday, and so Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), who has been dressed in pink for the past three stages, will wear the maglia ciclamino, cyclamen jersey, for the first time after Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) had looked after it for him.

Kämna will be dressed in the maglia azzurra, or blue jersey, as leader in the mountains classification after the German won the first summit finish of this year’s race atop Mount Etna.

López is also the best young rider, but Mauri Vansevenant (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) will wear the maglia bianca (white jersey) on his behalf.