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GIRO’22 BREAKDOWN: Stage 5 Sprint Scorcher

Giro d'Italia Stage 5

Giro Stage Breakdown: Stage 5 of the 2022 Giro d’Italia came down to a bunch sprint, but not all the sprinters made it over the one climb of the day. Top favorites Mark Cavendish and Caleb Ewan had missed the boat to Messina. The Spencer Martin scorching fast stage 5 ‘BREAKDOWN’.

Arnaud Démare was the best in Messina

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A much needed win for Groupama-FDJ

Arnaud Démare captured a long-awaited grand tour stage win when he stormed to victory in a high-speed sprint over Fernando Gaviria and Giacomo Nizzolo in Messina on the Giro’s 5th stage. While it ended in a fairly typical bunch sprint, the stage was anything but formulaic due to Mathieu van der Poel’s team increasing the pace on a second category climb 100-kilometers from the finish line and blowing up the peloton. A few top sprinters, including Mark Cavendish, Caleb Ewan, and even briefly the stage winner were victims of pace. And while Démare was able to claw his way back on the descent and the ensuing flat terrain, Cavendish and Ewan were forced to sit up and save their energy for another day.

López looking good in pink

Trek’s Juan Pedro López easily defended his overall lead, but the fight for the GC did see a slight reshuffling when João Almeida surged from the peloton to take a two-second time bonus at the intermediate sprint point to increase his lead over pre-race favorite Richard Carapaz and leap over Pello Bilbao into 7th place overall.

Stage Top Three:
Arnaud Démare +0
Fernando Gaviria +0
Giacomo Nizzolo +0

GC Top Three:
Juan Pedro López +0
Lennard Kämna +39
Rein Taaramäe +58

Filtered Current GC Standings:
Simon Yates +0
Wilco Kelderman +13
João Almeida +16
Pello Bilbao +18
Richie Porte +22
Romain Bardet +24
Richard Carapaz +24
Mikel Landa +33
Guillaume Martin +2’24
Tobias Foss +2’32
Vincenzo Nibali +2’34

Simon Yates – Best of the GC men

Stage 5 Notebook:
106.5km: After the peloton had climbed the early part of the day’s major climb at an easy pace, Mathieu van der Poel’s Alpecin-Fenix team comes out of nowhere to blow things up and attempt to drop the race’s fastest sprinters.


104.6km: The pace immediately puts Mark Cavendish under pressure. His QuickStep team is quick to react, forming a phalanx around him to pace him up and over the climb.


103.8km: Caleb Ewan, who was dropped before Cavendish, is in serious trouble, but his Lotto team isn’t as quick to react and has only sent a single rider back to pace him.


67km: Peloton catches the break while Cavendish is 2’30 and Ewan 4’30 back.

40km: With Démare back in the peloton and his FDJ team driving the pace, Cavendish and Quick-Step give up the chase.

37.3km: With the breakaway caught, João Almeida sprints to take the 3 bonus seconds on offer at the intermediate sprint, but Richard Carapaz’s teammate Ben Swift smartly reacts to steal the 1st place prize. Almeida, whose teammate Diego Ulissi is smartly keeping watch for any more riders coming from behind, still gets a two-second time bonus. While the Giro won’t be won by two seconds, this effort signals intent from Almeida and that he is feeling physically strong.

2.3km: Alpecin has a rider stringing things out on the front, but the team isn’t riding together and is spread out in the peloton behind. Meanwhile, Démare’s FDJ team is tucked in much further back and keeping their powder dry.


750m: When they hit the difficult and critical 100-degree turn heading into the finish, Démare and his leadout man Ramon Sinkeldam get separated from their teammate Miles Scotson.


700m: But Scotson, instead of simply accelerating away and giving a valuable draft to rivals, immediately finds his teammates against the barrier and slows up to allow them to get on his wheel.


500m: This regrouping allows Sinkeldam to navigate Démare through traffic and take him to the front. Meanwhile, Girmay, who is without teammates, is stuck up against the barriers and unable to get through.


200m: Sinkeldam gives Démare a clean launch for the line while Girmay gets pinched, and Gaviria is forced to come from further back in the group.


150m: When we look at the next freeze-frame, you can see once Démare goes, he has nothing but open space between him and a (downhill) finish line, and that Girmay’s path along the barriers is blocked and Gaviria has riders to navigate around.


Finish: This slight head start allows Démare to hold off a surging Gaviria (who was stuck in the wrong gear) to take the stage win.


Stage Takeaways:

1) Arnaud Démare is starting to look like his former self

  • The French sprinter gets his first WorldTour win since the 2020 season, which incidentally, was a stage at the Giro d’Italia.
  • Despite this rough period, he appears to be on the road back to his old form and this win will give him much-needed confidence in his quest for more stage wins and a win in the points jersey competition.

Groupama and Démare got stage 5 right

2) Groupama-FDJ learned from their stage 3 mistakes

  • The team clearly learned from their slight errors on stage 3 and, as a result, won the stage with a highly cohesive leadout train.
  • Their performance stood in stark contrast to the Alpecin and UAE teams, who either rode in an incredibly disorganized manner (Alpecin) or left their sprinter to fend for themselves (UAE).

Gaviria was close – Did he have a mechanical problem?

3) Fernando Gaviria is slowly getting his speed back

  • The Colombian sprinter, who is another former prolific winner in need of a win, was extremely angry at the stage due to a mechanical issue keeping him from getting into the proper gear for the downhill sprint.
  • But, while he failed to win on this occasion, things look good going forward: He was the only top-tier sprinter who wasn’t dropped when Alpecin increased the pace and he came in 2nd place in a downhill sprint without being able to shift lower than his 14-tooth cog.

What are the Alpecin tactics?

4) Alpecin-Fenix has a lot to learn about Grand Tour tactics

  • Alpecin blew up the stage with their impressive pacemaking on the climb, but their highest placing on the stage was Van der Poel in 78th.
  • This begs the question of what exactly they were trying to accomplish by pushing the pace to drop a few sprinters?
  • This decision, along with their scatter-shot leadout in the finale, shows that the team, and perhaps specifically Van der Poel, haven’t fully perfected their grand tour tactics.

Van der Poel is not a bunch sprinter

5) Mathieu van der Poel isn’t a bunch sprinter, which makes Alpecin’s decision all the more confusing

  • If it wasn’t evident before the stage, we have definitive proof that Van der Poel shouldn’t be considered a serious contender for future (flat) bunch sprints.
  • This makes his Alpecin team’s decision to expend a significant amount of energy riding to dislodged Cavendish, Ewan, and Démare, and then continuing to drive the pace all the way to the finish even more confusing. Whatever the root of the decision (and it potentially was just to have fun and stave off boredom) is difficult to imagine his Alpecin team investing the same amount of energy into a future sprint stage after this performance.

Girmay has been close

6) Biniam Girmay keeps getting caught out of position, but his ability to recover from forced slowing at high speeds is almost unmatched

  • While they have similar talents, Girmay has been much more successful putting himself in position in bunch sprints at this Giro than Van der Poel.
  • However, we saw again on stage 5, he doesn’t have the team support or experience to keep him from being boxed in during the final few hundred meters.
  • He might not have the raw torque and explosiveness of the pure sprinters, but his ability to get caught in a poor position, freewheel, and then get back up to speed without losing position in a high-speed sprint is incredibly impressive and shows he has a natural ability to stay at the front of these sprints.
  • So far at this Giro, he has finished 2nd (stage 1), 4th (stage 3), and 5th (stage 5), which is shockingly good for a grand tour debutante. At this rate, it is difficult to imagine him not winning a stage before this race ends.

Kelderman to the fore

7) Bora is serious about keeping Kelderman at the front in these sprints, which shows they must be incredibly confident in their GC leader

  • Outside of the sprint tactics, something that stuck out to me in the finale was Bora leading the peloton into the 3km-to-go mark. While Ineos has traditionally been the GC team that works to stay on the front heading into the finish line on sprint stages, they were nowhere to be found today while Bora and Kelderman were taking control of the pace.
  • The fact that they have done a great job of keeping Wilco Kelderman upfront in these sprints so far at the Giro, which shows they are riding incredibly well as a team and have immense confidence in Kelderman’s physical condition.

giro22 st3
Is there an Alpecin lead-out train?

8) Alpecin-Fenix showed the roadmap to success for the slightly ‘slower’ sprinters

  • It was slightly surprising to see the race’s two marque sprinters Mark Cavendish and Caleb Ewan, dropped so quickly on the relatively mild cat 2 climb. I suspect Ewan is still not back to his best after his hard crash back on stage 1 and Cavendish still isn’t in the prime climbing condition he normally reaches at the Tour.
  • And even Démare, who is unshakeable in his best form, was distanced on the climb. The success Alpecin had today in dropping the three sprinters means that we will likely see riders like Gaviria, Nizzolo, and Girmay copy this tactic in future sprint stages with climbing features on course.

The Giro leaves Sicily – What next?

# Stay PEZ for all the Giro d’Italia news: Stage Reports, EUROTRASH, Rest Day Rants and BREAKDOWN. #

Watch the most comprehensive live & ad-free coverage of the Giro d’Italia 2022 on GCN+. Go deeper and get interactive with live polls & quizzes, plus rider profiles, race updates, results & more – plus stream original and exclusive cycling documentaries. Watch it all with GCN+ on any device.

# Spencer Martin is the author of the cycling-analysis newsletter Beyond the Peloton that breaks down the nuances of each race and answers big picture questions surrounding team and rider performance. Sign up now to get full access to all the available content and race breakdowns. #

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