The weather conditions weren’t on the riders’ side this Wednesday on the Giro. The rain followed the bunch throughout the fifth stage, which surely increased the tension, especially in the final. Many crashes occurred but the Groupama-FDJ riders managed to avoid them. Thibaut Pinot was given the winner’s time and also strengthened his mountain classification leadership thanks to a very short breakaway at the start of the race.
Just 171 kilometres were to be completed between Atripalda and Salerno on Wednesday, but stage 5 of the Giro was expected to be tricky given the weather conditions. The rain was there for the whole day, but Thibaut Pinot nevertheless took the lead with three riders at the start, without even attacking. The first climb listed after eleven kilometres was in his sight, but he first had to avoid the crash of two riders that were with him in the break. “I immediately realized that the day was going to be nervous and slippery,” he said. “I reacted well by not touching the brake, otherwise I would have fallen for sure”. The “maglia azzurra” was therefore able to continue in the lead, at a moderate pace, and was not challenged at the top of the first climb. Once he grabbed the eight points available, he then returned to the bunch. Three men then led the way for the rest of the stage, and the peloton controlled the gap easily for the expected bunch sprint. Sixty kilometres from the finish, Thibaut Pinot took another point for the mountain classification and thus brought his total to forty. “I don’t think I spend any energy on that at the moment,” he said. “I take what I can take, almost ‘’for free’’, I enjoy it and it also allows me to keep my mind off things. So far, that’s a bonus.”
“Everyone is happy to be on the bus tonight”, Thibaut Pinot
On the other hand, the peloton became more and more stressed in the last hour of racing while Samuele Zoccarato (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizenè) tried to go solo up front. “We were very clear this morning on the bus”, indicated Sébastien Joly. “Thibaut didn’t want to take too many risks. He targets the overall, but in his own way. He preferred to be conservative in the final, which was ultimately a good option. We were careful and we did well when you see the number of crashes. We had also decided not to do the sprint with Jake et Fabian with this in mind, because we knew it could be a bit of a gamble, and in order to keep everyone with Thibaut if necessary, as it happened to be the case”. Seven kilometres from the finish, a first crash split the bunch into several pieces, before a second one in the last three kilometres and a final one in the sprint. “We did not crash with seven kilometres to go, but we were caught behind the break,” said Thibaut. “We managed to get back to the main peloton before the second crash. I was right behind, and I was lucky not to fall. Then, because of the three-kilometre rule, we took it easy”. The climber from Melisey crossed the line without any stress and was credited with the time of the winner Kaden Groves. He also gained three places in the general classification (17th).
“We knew there could be some crashes today, it was stressful, and I think everyone is happy to be on the bus tonight”, concluded Thibaut. “Honestly, now, I’d rather lose thirty seconds than crash in the final. For me, this is not where the Giro is won. On the opposite, you can lose everything on a stage like this. I prefer to stay back and take a safety margin, even crashes can happen anywhere. The start of a Grand Tour is always nervous, but with the rain and the slippery roads, it is even more exhausting mentally”. “Thibaut is at a point of his career where he wants to enjoy, and we can see that”, added Sébastien. “We enjoy this moment with him, and everything comes naturally. This morning, on the bus, we knew we were going to be under the rain all day, but there was still a good atmosphere, smiles, music. There is a good vibe.” Thursday, start and finish will be in Napoli on the Giro.