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Giro: Pantano strong sixth in Matera, but what a shame for Duque!

The first top-10 placement for Team Colombia at 96th Giro d’Italia has arrived today, in Wednesday May 8th stage 5, on a day in which Claudio Corti’s outfit looked destined for even greater things until 1000 metres to go. Jarlinson Pantano placed sixth in the reduced group sprint in Matera, a kick affected by a crash in the final bend, pushing Leonardo Duque to the barrier when he was in perfect position to go on the uphill final drag. John Degenkolb (Argos) was today’s winner, neatly beating Angel Vicioso (Katusha) and Paul Martens (Blanco) to the line. Luca Paolini (Katusha) defended his pink jersey once again.

“I am happy with my placement, but also sincerely disappointed for Leonardo – Jarlinson Pantano commented afterwards – we had been working hard for him in the final kilometres, and he really was in a perfect position for his sprint. Unfortunately, another athlete saw a gap where there wasn’t, and hampered a potential huge result.”

“After that happened, I tried to go for my sprint, despite having spent a lot of energy, and today’s sixth place adds to our very good Giro d’Italia start,” Pantano said, “and hopefully he will bounce back from today’s bad luck very soon.”

Leonardo Duque hit the barrier with his right hand in the accident, suffering a contusion and superficial abrasions. The athlete was visited by Team Doctor Massimiliano Mantovani, and his conditions should not affect the prosecution of his Giro d’Italia.

Right after the start from Cosenza, the day’s 6-man breakaway started at km 3, reaching up to a 10-minute margin on the bunch, always looking in control and led by Paolini’s Katusha and, later, by the sprinters’ teams. After the break was over, several attacks animated the setup to the final climb of the day, that made selection in the bunch while heavy rain was falling on the finishing line in Matera. Fortunately, the shower ended before the riders arrived, but left the wet tarmac that proved so dangerous in the late stage.

While looking disappointed to see Duque’s chance vanish, Sports Director Oscar Pellicioli did nothing but praise his team for today’s effort: “The guys did a great job, getting to the final in the position we had hoped for, to go for the stage with Leonardo. We were very unlucky today, but still got a good sixth place with Pantano, that shows we have a number of good options, and a group of riders whose confidence is growing day by day, learning how they can perform at the top level in World cycling.”

Tomorrow, Thursday May 9th, a sprinters’ stage will be run in Puglia region, from Mola di Bari to Margherita di Savoia. The sprinters who couldn’t fight for today’s stage will try to seize one of the few opportunities available for them, and Leonardo Duque will be definitely looking to take his chance again.

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