Giro d’Italia: Ballerini sprints in Messina
Day five of the race had just one hurdle on the course – Portella Mandrazzi, a 19.6km climb which was to be tackled by the riders midway along the route travelling to Messina, where the peloton returned after five years – but it ended up playing a huge role in the final outcome.
That was because several teams decided to ramp up the pace seven kilometers from the top of the ascent, putting many sprinters on their limit and forcing them to spend a lot of energy in order to try and hang in there. Mark Cavendish did his best to remain in the bunch, but was distanced on the steepest part of the ascent, and despite a fully committed team that chased hard on the descent to reduce the gap and bring him back in contention, it soon became clear it won’t happen as the numbers were on the peloton’s side.
Sprint responsibility passed onto the shoulders of Davide Ballerini, and the Italian from Cantù came close of scoring another top 3 for the Wolfpack at the Giro, concluding just outside the podium the mass gallop won by Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) on the long finishing straight in Messina. Mauri Vansevenant came across the line in the same time and remained fifth in the overall standings ahead of Thursday’s stage, which will see the riders return to the mainland.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images