May 12, 2005 – Quickstep’s Paolo Bettini is clearly the most in-form of all the early-stage riders at this year’s Giro d’Italia, and was again the main catalyst in today’s fifth stage, 223 km from Celano to L’Aquila. But one day after losing a stage win to relegation for an illegal sprint, Bettini has now lost the biggest prize — for the time being. With great help from his team in shutting down the race and a massive effort in the final uphill sprint, Liquigas’ Danilo Di Luca took the stage and is in the pink.
The main move of the day started early, when Ruslan Ivanov (Domina Vacanze) attacked after 20km to claim a cash sprint and was joined, in handfuls over the next few kilometers, by what eventually formed a massive 21-man break that included Bettini, Tosatto (Fassa), Miholjevic and Wegelius (Liquigas), Guillen and Parra (Selle Italia), Gomez and Oliver (Saunier), Ivanov (Domina), Baranowski, Andrle, Gil Perez (Liberty Seguros), Moletta (Gerolsteiner), Van Huffel (Davitamon-Lotto), Petrov (Lampre), Sutherland and Eltink (Rabobank), Fofonov (Cofidis), Casar (FDJ), Muravyev (CA) and Garcia (Euskaltel). After 100km, the 21 leaders had a significant 9-minute gap, more due to apathy in the peloton than any real coordinated effort.
But on the day’s last climb in Corfinio, 65km from the finish, the lead group began to break up. Following the climb, the group reformed but had whittled to nine riders, with a minute on the remnants of the original break and three minutes on the pack. The nine: Guillen and Parra (Selle Italia), Gil Perez (Liberty Seguros), Bettini (Quick.Step), Petrov (Lampre), Van Huffel (Davitamon-Lotto), Eltink (Rabobank), Wegelius (Liquigas) and Rodriguez (Saunier Duval).
Bettini — who is surely beginning to understand that, after the massive show of power in the first few stages, it will now be impossible to find anyone willing to work with him — assumed much of the work in the break himself, but could find no support and the break eventually fizzled for good with 4km remaining: Liquigas and CSC-led efforts in the pack had shut the race down.
Liquigas led into the sprint for Di Luca, but the final sprint was uphill and the pack began to spill around him. Latching onto Fassa’s Bruseghin, De Luca recovered and outsprinted the others for the stage win. And the significance of yesterday’s relegation for Bettini became clear as the dust settled on today’s stage: with time bonuses, De Luca was now pink jersey and race leader.
1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 6.01.18
2 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
3 Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (Col) Davitamon-Lotto 0.02
4 Bjoern Leukemans (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto
5 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC
6 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita
7 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
8 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team
9 Patrice Halgand (Fra) Credit Agricole
10 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare
General classification after stage 5:
1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 26.20.55
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step 0.03
3 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare
4 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
5 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita