Jérôme Pineau defied the sprinters to win the fifth stage of the Giro d’Italia today into Novi Ligure.
In a Giro d’Italia that continues to confound expectations, Pineau leaped from a breakaway group of lone warriors that had survived for most of the 162km stage from Novara to Novi Ligure.
The Frenchman from Quick Step was the strongest – and the most tactically astute – to keep a rampaging peloton, insistent to set up a bunch sprint, at bay.
“The first time, Monday, they told me that I went into the escape for nothing,” said Pineau. “I remember what Didier Rous told me, ‘An escape is good only if it gets to the finish line.’
“I called my brother a little after the race, I told him that I think I have finally found faith in myself. Even when the Japanese rider attacked, I believed I had the legs and I believed I could win.”
“The Giro d’Italia for me is important because the mythical cyclists have raced here. [Fausto] Coppi grew up here and to think that I am racing a bike with Eddy Merckx’s name on it. These guys made cycling, so to win here is special.”
With 20 kilometres of the stage remaining, the breakaway group commanded a lead of just two minutes on the peloton. With Columbia and Lampre working together on the front for André Greipel and Alessandro Petacchi, it looked the breakaway’s days were numbered on the long, straight roads into Novi Ligure.
The bunch chipped steadily away at the break – now down to three after Paul Voss cracked – and had it firmly within its sights with just two kilometres left.
Sensing the danger, Yukiya Arashiro attacked the trio soon after the red kite, with Pineau and Julien Fouchard gritting their teeth to stay in contact.
A tight right-hand bend played into the break’s hands as Arashiro jumped again. This time Pineau was expecting it.
It was in fact the perfect lead out for the Frenchman who bided his time and tore past Arashiro to take the stage win, Quick Step’s second of the race after Wouter Weylandt’s win on Monday.
Behind Fouchard and Arashiro, Tyler Farrar once again proved he is the sprinter to beat in this year’s Giro, leading home the bunch ahead of Greg Henderson and Petacchi.
There was little change on the general classification and Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali remains in the pink jersey ahead of team-mate Ivan Basso.
Giro d’Italia 2010, stage five: Novara-Novi Ligure, 162km
1. Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step
2. Julien Fouchard (Fra) Cofidis
3. Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Bbox Bouygues Telecom at same time
4. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin Transitions at 4secs
5. Greg Henderson (Nzl) Sky
6. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre
7. Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank
8. Andre Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia
9. Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank
10. William Bonnet (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom at same time.
26. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Transitions at 4secs
28. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas at 4secs
30. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team at 4secs
40. Adam Blythe (GB) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 4secs
53. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas at 4secs
98. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky at 4secs
123. Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo at 4secs
124. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Cervelo at 4secs
149. Charly Wegelius (GB) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 48secs
154. Steve Cummings (GB) Team Sky at 55secs
159. Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky at 55secs
Overall classification after stage five
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas in 10-44-00
2. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas at 13secs
3. Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Liquigas at 20secs
4. André Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia at 26secs
5. Matt Goss (Aus) HTC-Columbia at 26secs
6. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana at 33secs
7. Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Katusha at 39secs
8. Richie Porte (Aus) Saxo Bank at 45secs
9. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Transitions at 45secs
10. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana at 59secs
25. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC racing Team at 1-59
29. Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo at 2-13
48. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky at 4-36
59. Adam Blythe (GB) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 8-05
73. Steve Cummings (GB) Team Sky at 9-42
85. Charly Wegelius (GB) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 10-19
91. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Transitions at 10-42
99. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Cervelo at 10-59
163. Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky at 16-01
Elation for Pineau but despair for Fouchard
Vincenzo Nibali looks the part in the maglia rosa
Giro d’Italia 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index
2010 Giro d’Italia coverage in association with Zipvit