Giro d'Italia (st. 5)
Valverde puts 4" on Dumoulin (TGA) and Nibali (AST) at Benevento, as well as several other GC contenders into second split at finish; Spaniard remains in 7th overall. Amador slips down to 18th after late mechanical, sits now 3" behind Landa (SKY, 16th)
Sometimes, a strong attack comes better late rather than early. Concentration was key into a lumpy stage five in the Giro d'Italia (Praia a Mare – Benevento) marked by stress, or “psychological hardness”, as Carlos Betancur named it before the day's racing. Alejandro Valverde positioned himself well into the final section -3.4% gradient, over cobblestones- after a long 233km where the Blue leader found great support from his eight team-mates. The maneuver costed Bala's rivals four seconds, with Tom Dumoulin (TGA) still in pink but now only 27" ahead of the Spaniard, with Vincenzo Nibali (AST) only one second over Alejandro in 6th. In turn, Russian Ilnur Zakarin (KAT) was the other main GC contender that made the first split in 12th place, sitting now in 8th spot at 8" from the Movistar Team leader.
Costa Rica's Andrey Amador (36th) was less fortunate, as a problem with his handlebar made him not reach the first cut and slightly sink to 18th place, yet still only 3" behind Mikel Landa (SKY), 16th in the GC at 20" from Bala. Once again, the Blue roster directed by Jaimerena and Chente played a crucial role preserving their GC references until the difficult kick towards the finish, a prelude to Thursday's first mountain finish in Roccaraso (Cat-2). "It's gonna be a complicated finish… even though today's already had its wear and tear," briefly commented Alejandro at the Movistar Team hotel after the race.