Filippo Ganna won his second Giro d’Italia podium and first open road stage in a shockingly impressive solo feat as Joao Almedia extended his lead in the maglia rosa on stage five of the Giro d’Italia.
Ganna was likened to Eros Poli as he put in a monstrous effort to break away from a three-man group on the category 1 Valico Montescuro, 12km from the finish. Using his time trialling expertise, Ganna showed off solo heroics in some terrible weather conditions to take his first UCI road stage victory, 34 seconds ahead of the peloton in his Giro d’Italia debut. He is the first Italian rider since Vincenzo Nibali in 2013 to win a time trial and a road stage at the Giro.
Ganna was part of a breakaway that went clear after a rapid first hour of racing with 165km to go. Despite facing the huge 24km climb to the finish – predicted to be suited for power climbers, not time triallists – the 24-year-old Italian was able to use his raw power to fight off frequent attacks from his companions and gain enough muscle to attack away from a three man group that included Thomas de Gendt and Elinar Rubio just before the crest of the mountain. His efforts today also put him in the mountain’s jersey, just one point ahead of Jonathon Caicedo.
The individual pursuit and time trial world champion took the stage win just 24 hours after his teammate and race favourite Geraint Thomas had to abandon the race having fractured his pelvis in a crash on the neutral section on stage 3, providing Ineos Grenadiers with a perfect turnaround.
Ganna said: “Yesterday I was messaging Geraint Thomas and he said, 'hey Pippo, go in the break, you can do it, try and win another stage'. It's an amazing victory for me and the team.
“It was really hard because 82kg is not easy to take uphill. I made a big chrono to the finish. On the radio, I didn't have the time gaps to the others, I was just thinking, 'ok Pippo, full gas now’.”
Almedia, from Deceunick-Quick Step, finished in third to earn himself a four second bonus and extend his lead on the general classification whilst Patrick Konrad took second place for Bora-Hansgrohe. This puts Almedia 43 seconds ahead of Bahrain McLaren’s Pello Bilbao who sits in second on the GC.
Almedia said: “I was feeling good. I think it was a good day; in the end I had good legs. I wanted to sprint to also show that I’m here and not just sitting on the wheel. I’ll give it everything I have until the end.
“I knew Caicedo was dropped, so I was chilled. For sure, the maglia rosa makes me mentally stronger. It gives me confidence and there’s always extra motivation.”
Further down the rankings, Wilco Kelderman now sits in third place, while Vincenzo Nibali is in fifth, a minute and one second behind the maglia rosa, and Jakob Fuglsang is in seventh, a minute and nineteen seconds further back on the GC.