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Giro d’Italia 2024: Benjamin Thomas leads home breakaway to deny sprinters
Cycling Sport

Giro d’Italia 2024: Benjamin Thomas leads home breakaway to deny sprinters

The French rider Benjamin Thomas outsprinted his breakaway colleagues in Tuscany to win the fifth stage of the Giro d’Italia, giving the Cofidis team their first victory this year.

The four-man break escaped the peloton after the final intermediate sprint of the day, with 80km left to ride, and held off the chasing pack despite the best efforts of the main sprint contenders’ teams. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team-Emirates) still holds the overall lead, 46sec ahead of Geraint Thomas.

The home rider Andrea Pietrobon (Polti-Kometa) looked set to reach the line first after the 178km ride from Genoa to Lucca but his push for victory inside the last kilometre came too early and he was caught before the finish. Pietrobon had to settle for third, with Denmark’s Michael Valgren (EF Education-EasyPost) coming in second behind Thomas, who landed his first Grand Tour stage.

Thomas is a two-time omnium and madison world champion and said his track background helped him in the breakaway. “It was like a long, long, long team pursuit,” he said. “We did an amazing break and I don’t believe it. It was really hard in the finale, every pull was full gas. It’s unbelievable. Maybe it was my destiny to take my first big win in Italy, where I live, and I’m glad to deliver the first win for Cofidis.”

The peloton is passed by a pink Giro-branded train on the coastal road to Lucca.View image in fullscreen

An earlier break of four riders was reeled in just after the top of the first climb of the day, with Alpecin-Deceuninck pushing the peloton for their sprint hope, Kaden Groves. Another bunch sprint finish was expected but the decisive second breakaway changed that. They made it to the top of the second and final climb and had almost a minute to spare as they hit the final 20km roll into Lucca.

“With 10km to go, with 50 seconds, I started to think that we could go for the win. With the tailwind, we could play with the bunch,” Thomas said. “I knew all the roads [in Lucca] because I train there sometimes. It was helping me to know the cobbles and the corners and it’s a nice thing – to live in Italy, it means a lot for me.”

The main group arrived on the line 11 seconds behind the winner, with Pogacar safely in the top 30, maintaining his lead over Thomas of Ineos Grenadiers. The Slovenian said: “It was an interesting day today. The last hour or so was very fast. It was very tense coming to Lucca. The breakaway stayed in front because it was a late breakaway. Tomorrow will be a stage to be careful and not lose any time.”

Thursday’s stage six will take the riders on an uneven 180km route from Viareggio to Rapolano Terme in Tuscany, with two category four climbs.

Source: theguardian.com