Full report of today's dramatic stage 5 and that superb win by Andre Greipel...
Praia a Mare - Benevento
Giro d'Italia - 11 May 2016
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A split in the pack means Ilnur Zakarin and Alejandro Valverde - and Bob Jungels, the white jersey - steal four seconds off their GC rivals. Dumoulin still leads but the deficit has been slashed by four seconds to 16 seconds by Jungels. Valverde is in seventh, at 27 seconds, just one second now behind Vincenzo Nibali ahead of tomorrow's first summit finish.
Here he is... the winner today, who now joins Marcel Kittel with four career wins on the Giro.
Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) took second and third but they were about 10 metres behind Greipel. Bob Jungels took fourth ahead of Moreno Hofland.
Textbook win for the Rostock Gorilla who was set up perfectly by his Lotto Soudal team-mates and then finished it off with professional zing.
HUGE WIN FOR ANDRE GREIPEL! The German veteran is peerless as he powers through on the uphill sprint and wins by a few bike lengths.
Ferrari leading out for Lampre... Pozzato, Demare, Colbrelli all there... it was Taaramae who crashed...
CRASH: A Katusha rider hits the deck on the front ahead of the flamme rouge...
Onto the cobbles again... then the tarmac... Demare is there too...
Sacha Modolo is there so there are some other fast guys to rival Greipel here...
Kittel has been dropped... the red jersey is out of is, opening the way for his countryman Andre Greipel, perhaps.
Lotto Soudal and Lampre and Trek now edging forward, as are Giant and FDJ. Still no sign of Kittel or Etixx... What are they playing at?
The bell has sounded and there's one more lap of this finish circuit. Katusha now on the front with LottoNL-Jumbo. Perhaps the Dutch team fancy Moreno Hofland for today?
Now Tinkoff and Orica have men on the front - ah, hang on, it's Brutt and Txurruka from the break, which has been caught. Game on!
LottoNL-Jumbo come to the front now with three riders chasing down this break, which hits the cobbled climb. It's a very small section of cobbles though, transitioning onto tarmac and then flagstones. This will be the climb and finish straight that they will repeat in about 10 minutes.
Under the 10-to-go banner go the break - and then the pack just 12 seconds later. There's party atmosphere here with bunting and ribbons out above the road and the locals out in their droves.
Majka has almost made it back to the peloton now thanks to some pacing by two Tinkoff team-mates. The break has just 15 seconds to play with now so they'll be caught imminently.
Bobridge and Timmer are riding along chatting about that incident when Zilioli, who caused their falls by crashing in the middle of the road, rides past without even a word of apology. He then turns round to recognise them and Bobridge, the Australian national champion, waves in what seems to be a faintly sarcastic manner...
They're all back on their bikes after that fall but now Rafal Majka has a mechanical and is forced to swap bikes with a Tinkoff team-mate. The Pole will have a big chase back onto the peloton now.
CRASH: Gianfranco Zilioli (Nippo-Vini Fantini) crashes after apparently touching a wheel on a sweeping downhill. Jack Bobridge (Trek-Segafredo) and Albert Timmer (Giant-Alpecin) are forced wide and off the road, both going over the handlebars and down into a grassy ditch...
Dimension Data have some personal near the front as well. They're in for Italian sprinter Kristian Sbaragli and could do with a pick-me-up following Omar Fraile's withdrawal earlier today with illness and injury.
Puncture for Chad Haga of Giant-Alpecin who needs a front wheel change. That will make it tough for him to finish with the pack today.
IAM Cycling have come to the front to lend a hand to Lotto Soudal. They have both Matteo Pelucchi and Leigh Howard as cards to play today. The gap is down to 30 seconds now.
Tomorrow is the first proper uphill finish of the race and so the big GC favourites will have one eye on that, hoping to keep back some energy in reserve, The gap is 1:25 for the four leaders on these twisting, lumpy roads. Brutt is imporing some of his fellow escapees to put in more effort as Oss comes to the front. To be fair, Oss has crashed and will no doubt be feeling those injuries now the adreneline had worn off...
Mechanical issue for Andrey Amador of Movistar, who needs his handlebars lowered. The Costa Rican was third on GC before losing time yesterday and dropping down to 18th, 50 seconds adrift.
Marcel Kittel's Etixx-QuickStep team have not done any work in the chase today - but why should they? They've already won two stages through the powerful German and there's no pressure on them to perform. What's more, there are enough teams interested in reeling in this break and setting up a grandstand finale, so it's not as if it won't happen. In fact, if it doesn't happen it will be because there's a counter-attrack before the finish. That is where we might see more of Etixx on the front - making sure that doesn't happen.
Here's some more info on today's finish circuit... according to Wikipedia, porphyry is a textural term for an igneous rock consisting of large-grained crystals such as feldspar or quartz dispersed in a fine-grained feldspathic matrix or groundmass...
The lead is tumbling fast now as the pace is ratcheted up in the pack. 1:30 now for the four leaders who will surely be caught sooner rather than later.
The break are on a fast and technical descent ahead of the run into Benevento. Some of the road is quite distressed with cracks and crumbly bits of adverse camber. The gap is 2:50 as Trek-Segafredo edge ahead alongside Lotto Soudal on the front of the pack.
We reported earlier that Jakub Mareczko withdrew from the race. Apparently he woke up this morning with a fever and suffered quite considerably during the stage. The 22-year-old Italian was making his debut in the Giro and was looking to add to his five wins so far this season.
The gap is dropping quite fast now that Lotto Soudal have taken it up. The latest is 2:15 for the four leaders - Txurruka, Oss, Brutt and Foliforov - who have been out since the 44th kilometre.
The peloton is all strung out but the pace isn't particularly high at the moment. Lotto Soudal are on the front but their man Andre Greipel is off the back with the team car. The German veteran is one of the favourites for today's stage alongside the likes of Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep), Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge), Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and all the Italians - the likes of Nizzolo, Modolo, Colbrelli and Elia Viviani (Team Sky).
Today's finish features a 6.6km circuit around the hilltop town of Benevento. The riders will ride the final kilometre as a dress rehersal before doing the whole circuit through the backstreets of the scenic settlement in Campania. There's some smooth cobblestones as well as some polished flagstones in the finale - flanked by historical buildings - so we're set for something quite novel. Michele Scarponi (Astana) won when the race last came to Benevento in 2009. He was part of a four man break which just held off the peloton...
Around 1.4km separates the break and the peloton, which translates as 3mins 53secs. It's cloudy now with a slight threat of rain, perhaps. Giant Alpecin still control the tempo in the pack for their leader, the pink jersey Tom Dumoulin.
The lead of the four leaders is down to 3:40. We're not too far away from an uncategorised climb that should shuffle the pack a little.
Another withdrawal to add to the four others: Jakub Mareczko, the young sprinter at Wilier-Southeast, has called it a day. The Italian won two stages on the Tour of Turkey but hadn't really got into his stride in his debut Giro.
Fabian Cancellara is joshing around with some of his Trek-Segafredo team-mates on the back of the peloton. Illness derailed his hopes of an early time trial win and the maglia rosa in the Netherlands, but he's not someone to shy away from the cobbles so perhaps he'll be eyeing something today in Benevento?
A reminder that the field is down to 194 riders following today's withdrawal of Omar Fraile (Dimension Data). Frenchman Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2R-La Mondiale) was the first rider to withdraw from the race after his crash on a roundabout in Sunday's third stage in the Netherlands - just hours before Silvan Dillier (BMC) was forced out with a broken hand. Then yesterday we saw another Frenchman, Alexandre Geniez (FDJ), withdraw after a second crash in three days. Ninth last year, Geniez hurt his wrist and will undergo further checks back home in France today.
Here's a replay of that crash by Daniel Oss earlier, which resulted in the Italian slamming into the corner of a garden fence.
The break enters another tunnel - this is certainly not a stage for the vertiginous, with long stretches of raised road crossing the valleys below. The helicopter images are very impressive - some of these bridges appear to be in excess of 80 metres high!
The FDJ team of Arnaud Demare and the Astana army of Vincenzo Nibali have come to the front of the peloton behing Tom Dumoulin's Giant-Alpecin troupe. Interspersed among them all are the Lotto-Soudal outfit of Andre Greipel. The gap is down to 5:15 for the four escapees.
Yes, that crash came just minutes ago - we've been shown TV replays of Oss losing his front wheel on the bend, sliding out and slamming into a metal pole of a fence with his chest. That could have been much worse than it was - and it's amazing the Italian wasn't winded from that blow.
CRASH: Daniel Oss has come off his bike and is nursing some cuts and torn clothes. It's unsure whether or not he came off just now - as the TV images went live - on the descent after the intermediate sprint, or if it was an earlier incident... We'll try and find out.
It's not just Marcel Kittel's birthday today - Aussie veteran Adam Hansen turns 35 today. The Lotto-Soudal man is riding his 14th consecutive Grand Tour in what is proving to be a sensational run - especially seeing that he's completed them all.
The lead of the four escapees - Oss, Brutt, Txurruka and Foliforov - is down to 4:45 at the second intermediate sprint at Palomonte. Once again it was BMC's Oss who took the intermediate sprint points to draw level with Maarten Tjallingi (LottoNL-Jumbo) in the rather niche intermediate sprint classification.
The second intermediate sprint comes atop an uncategorised climb at the town of Palomonte. He's the break grappling with that ascent now...
Confirmation of the first intermediate sprint results: Daniel Oss picked up the 20 points ahead of Foliforov and Txurruka. Frenchman Arnaud Demare (FDJ) led the peloton over the line ahead of Elia Viviani (Teak Sky) and Boy Van Poppel (Trek-Segafredo).
Confirmation from Dimension Data of that withdrawal - it seems that Fraile has been suffering with illness as well as the after effects of his crash.
News coming through of the withdrawal of Spain's Omar Fraile (Dimension Data) at the feedzone. The race's first blue jersey wearer crashed badly yesterday and has clearly been struggling. That's a big blow - he looked in good nick and would have been an asset in the mountains. Fraile won the polka dot jersey in his debut Vuelta last season, remember.
The only rider in this break who has won a stage on a Grand Tour before is Russia's Pavel Brutt, who triumphed in stage 5 of the 2008 Giro. Txurruka has ridden 16 Grand Tours but has yet to snare a win despite his aggression in the hills. The closest he came was back in 2009 when he finished second in stage 13 of the Tour - albeit some four minutes down on the winner that day, Heinrich Haussler.
The break has passed through the first intermediate sprint at Polla as well as the feedzone at Buccino. The gap has dropped to just below seven minutes.
The virtual maglia rosa or race leader is now Spanish veteran Amets Txurruka who started the day in 72nd place at 5:25. Can he hold on over the hilly second half of this stage? None of those climbs are categorised but there's barely a flat bit of road, save for the run into Benevento.
We now join the race LIVE with those four escapees now riding a whole seven minutes ahead of a peloton which includes all jerseys - the pink (Tom Dumoulin), the red (Marcel Kittel), the blue (Damiano Cunego) and the white (Bob Jungels).
The gap for the four leaders was up around three minutes after 60-odd kilometres.
A break was allowed to go after the first climb of the day. Four men edged ahead: Daniel Oss (BMC), Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom), Amets Txurukka (Orica-GreenEdge), Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff).
Yes, indeed, it goes to script. No break is allowed to leave the peloton on the early climb thanks to the marshalling of Nippo-Vini Fantini, whose road captain Cunego takes the points at the top of the summit to double his lead in the KOM standings to 14 points over Nicola Boem's seven.
The blue jersey is being worn by Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini Fantini) today after he took maximum points over yesterday's second Cat.3 climb. There's an early Cat.3 climb on the agenda today so we may see the Little Prince get himself into an early move...
Kittel lost the pink jersey yesterday but he's in the red jersey today as leader of the points competition. Despite the slightly uphill finish on cobbles, many think that this could come down to a bunch sprint and if it does that man Kittel - on his 28th birthday - will be the man to beat.
The remaining 195 riders rolled out of Praia a Mare this morning under some sunshine after some hefty showers this morning in the area. It's the second longest stage of the race.
Dumoulin, the Giant-Alpecin rider who won the race's opening time trial in Apeldoorn in his native Netherlands, led the chasing pack over the line five seconds in arrears to move back into the maglia rosa after overnight leader Marcel Kittel cracked on the series of climbs that peppered the second half of the stage. Kittel's Etixx-QuickStep team-mate Bob Jungels, the Luxembourg national champion, moved up to second in the overall standings, 20 seconds behind Dumoulin, with Ulissi rising to third thanks to 10 extra bonus seconds procured at the finish.
Yesterday, Italy's Diego Ulissi of Lampre-Merida won a lumpy stage four of the Giro d'Italia on the Mediterranean coast ahead of Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, who moved back into the race lead. After some expert pacing by his Italian team-mate Valerio Conti, Ulissi rode clear of a group of 12 riders on a stinging ramp outside the Calabrian coastal town of Praia a Mare before holding off a select chasing group of race favourites to secure the fifth Giro d'Italia scalp of his career in the 200km stage from Catanzaro.
Ciao! and welcome to live coverage of stage five of the Giro d'Italia, a rolling 233km ride from Praia a Mare to Benevento, a hilltop town around 50km east of Naples. Some say it'll be a sprint, others a breakaway, while many envision a similar script to yesterday...