Arnaud Démare of Groupama–FDJ came through a packed field to win stage five of the Giro d’Italia, a 172-kilometre ride from Catania to Messina, on Wednesday.
Mark Cavendish (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl), looking to win his second stage of this year’s Giro, and Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) were heavily fancied to be front-runners in Sicily, but dropped out of contention on the only climb of the day, the 20km Portella Mandrazi which topped out just under 100km from the finishing line in Messina.
The peloton then eased off with Cavendish and Ewan out of contention, with a huge group forming at the front with 10 kilometres to go.
The victory was anyone’s for the taking, with Groupama-FDJ getting Démare into position before a tight final corner, with the Frenchman taking his sixth career Giro stage win ahead of Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) in second and Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel-Premier Tech) in third.
Youngster Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) came of age on the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna on Tuesday, becoming the first Spaniard since Alberto Contador in 2015 to take the pink jersey, and retains his place at the top of the general classification after crossing the line in 58th.
Stage four: Lopez takes pink after missing out on win
Tuesday May 10 – Avola to Etna, 172km
Juan Pedro López missed out on taking the first win of his career atop Mount Etna, but the Trek-Segafredo was able to take comfort in becoming the new race leader ahead of stage winner Lennard Kämna.
The fourth stage was a 172-kilometre ride from Avola to Etna-Nicolosi after a rest day and the two riders were out in front with a kilometre to go before López made a mistake on the final turn to hand Kämna the stage win.
“It was a super hard day, especially the last climb. It was really long and hard. I almost thought I lost it when Lopez had more than 30 seconds and I could just make it to bridge,” Kämna said.
“I just made it. Then I tried to recover a little bit for the sprint and it worked out really well. Let me say it like this – maybe we had a silent agreement [for the win and pink jersey].”
Trek-Segafredo rider López, however, became the first Spaniard in seven years to wear the leader’s pink jersey since Alberto Contador and he holds a 39sec lead over Kämna.
“I’ve worked so hard today to take the jersey. I attacked in the steepest part of the climb. Kämna brought me back with two or three kilometres to go,” an emotional López said.
Stage three: Van der Poel retains pink
Sunday May 8 – Kaposvar to Balatonfured, 201km
Mark Cavendish ensured a winning return to the Giro d’Italia as he sprinted to victory on stage three in Hungary.
In the 36-year-old’s first appearance at the grand tour since 2013, he powered to the front with around 300 metres remaining and held off Arnaud Demare and Fernando Gaviria to take victory in Balatonfured.
It was the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider’s 16th victory at the Giro d’Italia and 160th of his professional career, and he was ecstatic to finish off his team’s hard work on the 201km race from Kaposvar.
He said in his post-race TV interview: “I’m very happy. It’s nice to win. I wanted to do good in the first sprint.
“We have half of the team for climbing and half of the team for the sprints here. My team-mates rode incredibly well.
“We had a set up and they delivered. I had to go long at 300m to go. I’m happy it worked well.”
There was no change at the top of the grand classification, with Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel maintaining his 11-second lead over Britain’s Simon Yates, who won stage two.
The riders will fly to Sicily for Tuesday’s fourth stage after the 2022 edition started with three days in Hungary.
Stage two: Van der Poel retains pink jersey following time trial
Saturday May 7 – Budapest to Budapest, 9.2km
Simon Yates of Team BikeExchange-Jayco won the second stage of the Giro d’Italia, a 9.2-kilometre individual time trial around Budapest on Saturday, as Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin-Fenix held onto the leader’s pink jersey.
British rider Yates finished with a time of 11 minutes 50 seconds, three seconds ahead of Van der Poel, who took the Maglia Rosa on Friday after winning the first stage.
Team Jumbo-Visma rider Tom Dumoulin came third, finishing five seconds behind Yates.
Yates now trails Van der Poel by 11 seconds as the race heads into its third stage on Sunday, a 201km ride from Kaposvar to Balatonfured.
Stage one: Van der Poel takes his first pink jersey
Friday May 6 – Budapest to Visegrad, 195km
Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin-Fenix won the first stage of the Giro d’Italia on Friday, beating Biniam Girmay on the final sprint to claim victory on the a 195-km flat ride from Budapest to Visegrad.
In a stage marred by crashes, Dutchman Van der Poel was neck-and-neck with Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux’s Girmay but timed his attack to perfection to cross the line first with a time of 4hr 35min 28sec to take hold of the maglia rosa, the leader’s pink jersey.
Pello Bilbao of Bahrain Victorious was third while Lotto-Soudal’s Caleb Ewan crashed at the final turn when he made contact with Girmay.