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With a great solo ride on the final climb, Polanc held off the charging favourites to take a huge solo win in the first summit finish at the Giro d’Italia; Aru, Contador and Porte finished in the same time, with the Spaniard taking th...

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ALBERTO CONTADOR

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GIRO D'ITALIA

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SYLVAIN CHAVANEL

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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13.05.2015 @ 17:57 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida) confirmed his potential as a great climber when he took his first professional victory on the biggest scene by winning the first summit finish of the Giro d’Italia on stage 5. The Slovenian distanced his rivals from an early breakaway on the final climb while Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), Fabio Aru (Astana) and Richie Porte (Sky) attacked each other without being able to make a difference. A fourth place finish was enough for the Spaniard to take the overall lead.

 

For several years, Jan Polanc has been knocking on the door for a first professional victory, shining in breakaways in the toughest terrain. However, the win has always eluded him, most famously on a big mountain stage in last year’s Giro d’Italia.

 

In this year’s edition of the Italian grand tour, the young Slovenian again found himself in a similar position when he made it into the right breakaway in today’s fifth stage of the race that had the first summit finish on the Abetone climb. This time there was no one denying the young Slovenian who completed an impressive ride by taking a huge solo victory.

 

Alongside Sylvain Chavanel (IAM), Sergei Tvetcov (Androni), Axel Domont (Ag2r) and Silvan Dillier (BMC), Polanc had been part of a 5-rider break that escaped after an aggressive start of the race. No one was showing any interest in chasing the group down and so they managed to build an advantage of more than 11 minutes. For most of the day, Orica-GreenEDGE kept it around that mark until it started to come down when the fight for position intensified.

 

At the bottom of the 17.3km to the finish, the gap had been brought down to 6.20 and it was still Orica-GreenEDGE setting the pace, with Pieter Wenning and Michael Matthews taking some huge turns on the front.  The fast speed meant that the gap was coming down quickly and when the peloton hit the climb it was only 5.30.

 

With 13km to go, Chavanel launched the first attack and he was quickly joined by Dillier. Polanc briefly seemed to suffer but together with Domont he made it back to the leading dup while Tvetcov was distanced.

 

In the peloton, no one was taking the initiative and it was just Christopher Juul (Tinkoff), Patrick Gretsch (Ag2r), Matthews and Weening riding next to each other on the front. Meanwhile, Chavanel tried again and only Dillier could follow him.

 

Olanc and Domont managed to get back and it was the Frenchman who launched an immediate solo attack. However, he was quickly passed by Dillier who was the next to try and the Swiss built a promising advantage while the Ag2r rider cracked.

 

Polanc accelerated to bridge the gap to Dillier but Chavanel was glued to his wheel. In the peloton, Zndrey Zeits (Astana) and Matteo Tosatto (Tinkoff-Saxo) were riding on the front.

 

With 10km to go, Polanc made his move and this time no one could respond. He quickly got an advantage over Dillier and Chavanel and managed to stabilize his advantage over the peloton at 4.15.

 

Chavanel attacked Dillier to try to bridge the gap to Polanc but the Frenchman constantly lost ground. Meanwhile, Ivan Rovny, Luis Leon Sanchez and Zeits were patrolling the front of the peloton which was showing no initiative.

 

Finally, the attacking started when Diego Rosa (Astana) took off. He was joined by Ivan Basso (Tinkoff) and Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani) but the former two decided to wait for the peloton. Instead, Mikel Landa (Astana) attacked and he made it up to Pirazzi.

 

In the peloton, Tinkoff-Saxo started to ride hard with Ivan Basso and his fast pace sent several riders out the back door. Moments later he brought Pirazzi and Landa back at a point when the gap had gone down to 3.45.

 

Pirazzi attacked again and made it up to Tvetcov but Basso quickly brought them back. This was the signal for Astana to kick into action and it was Paolo Tiralongo and Landa who did a huge damage that whittled the peloton down to 20 riders. One of the riders to lose contact was maglia rosa Simon Clarke (Orica).

 

Finally Alberto Contador launched the expected attack and he got a gap over Fabio Aru and Richie Porte. The Italian had trouble closing it down but Porte looked comfortable when he moved to the front to bring the trio together. Behind Landa and Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) joined forces before the Basque dropped the Colombian.

 

Porte and Aru both tried to attack but none of them could get clear. Instead, Landa made it back to them just as they hit the flatter finale and he immediately went to the front to try to distance the peloton in which Giovanni Visconti was chasing hard for Movistar.

 

That group brought Chaves back but even though Jesus Herrada also took huge turns, they were unable to get any closer to the Contadro quartet which was 1.45 behind Polanc. The strong Slovenian did well to maintain a 1.45 second advantage while Dillier and Domont were both caught.

 

Visconti and Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale) both tried to attack from the peloton and even though the latter briefly got a gap, they didn’t manage to stay away. However, Landa was now fading and so they started to reduce their deficit.

 

No one was going to catch Polanc though and he had plenty of time to celebrate the win. A little later the favourites sprinted for the bonus seconds and it was Aru who held off Contador and Porte. The trio caught Chavanel on the line but the Frenchman narrowly held onto second while Landa rolled across the line a little later in sixth. Dario Cataldo made it three Astana riders in the top 10 by winning the sprint for seventh.

 

As Chaves was unable to keep up with the peloton, Contador takes the overall lead with a 2-second advantage over Aru. He should get a relatively easy first day in pink as tomorrow’s stage is mostly flat and only has a lumpy middle section. Hence, the sprinters are expected to battle it out for the victory.

 

The first summit finish

After yesterday’s drama, the riders faced more climbing action in stage 5 which brought them over 152km from La Spezia to a summit finish on the Abetone climb. After a flat start, the riders hit a category 3 climb at the midpoint before they tackled some rolling terrain that led to the bottom of the final climb. With its 17.3km at an average gradient of 5.4% but the final 5km were significantly easier as they only had a gradient of 4-5%.

 

It was another warm but slightly cloudier day when the riders gathered in La Spezia for the start. All riders who finished yesterday headed out on the flat roads that led towards the hills.

 

The break gets clear

The start of the stage was very fast with numerous attacks and it took some time for the early break to be formed. After 8km of racing, no one had managed to escape and the riders got to the 16km mark before the right composition was found.

 

Axel Domont (Ag2r), Serguei Tvetcov (Androni), Silvan Dillier (BMC), Sylvain Chavanel (IAM) and Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida) took off and they started to build an advantage. While the peloton slowed down, Alessandro Malaguti (Nippo) took off in pusuit.

 

Malaguti loses ground

At the 26km mark, the lone chaser was 53 seconds behind while the peloton had ben distanced by 2.02. The gap had gone out to 3.42 3km later while Malaguti was still less than one minute behind.

 

The peloton briefly accelerated to bring the gap down to 3.00 but as they again hit the brakes, it went out to 5.45 at the 42km mark. At this point, Malaguti was starting to lose ground and he had now been distanced by 1.42.

 

A relaxed day

In the peloton, Orica-GreenEDGE had taken control with Sam Bewley, Michael Hepburn, Luke Durbridge and Brett Lancaster but they had no interest in catching the break. When Domont led Dillier and Chavanel over the top of the first climb, the gap was already 9.30 and Malaguti had been distanced by 4.16.

 

Orica-GreenEDGE allowed to gap to get out to 10.10 with 72km to go and it even reached 11.05 5km later. For a long time, Bewley, Lancaster, Hepburn and Durbridge kept it between 10.00 and 11.30 while there was a very relaxed atmosphere in the peloton. Malaguti decided to wait for them and he was brough tbakc with 65km to go.

 

The fight for positions starts

Tvetcov led Polanc and Chavanel across the line in the first intermediate sprint and he was again first in the second one, followed by Domont and Polanc. Meanwhile, the peloton started to accelerate slightly and with 35km to go, the gap dropped to below the 10-minute mark.

 

The fight for position had now started and as more teams moved up, the gap started to come down. Nippo-Vini Fantini even hit the front with Daniele Colli for a short moment but for most of the time Orica-GreenEDGE set the pace with Bewley, Hepburn and Durbridge.

 

With 25km to go, the gap was 8.40 and now several teams had lined out their trains on the front. Beley, Bernhard Eisel, Kevin Reza, Juul, Arnaud Courteille and Manuele Boaro were all riding in the wind while the hap melted away. When the escapees hit the climb, it was only 6.20 and moments later the fireworks started.

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