Joaquim Rodriguez would have been sore yesterday after finishing 43 seconds behind the men with whom he normally shares the road.
It’s likely ‘Purito’ would have looked at the profile of today’s fifth stage and seen in its contours and gradients a chance to even the score.
With two climbs in the final kilometre, offering peaks of 16 per cent and 19 per cent respectively, the winner of last year’s La Fleche Wallonne and Giro di Lombardia would have fancied the job; with good reason, it transpired.
For much of the stage, however, other riders demanded greater attention. Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida) launched a superb attack on the Passo Lanciano, Team Sky were relentless in his pursuit, and when the chips went down in the last five kilometres, the GC contenders were more than happy to show their hands.
Chris Froome leads the race tonight, but Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali, second and third respectively, are far from beaten. Expect more fireworks before this superb edition of the Race of the Two Seas is concluded.
You know you’ve returned to form when the media take an interest in your shoes. Damiano Cunego rode superbly today
Unfortunately for ‘The Little Prince’, so did Dario Cataldo and his Team Sky colleagues
Froome and Contador launched a determined pursuit of Rodriguez, but ‘Purito’ would not be denied
Nibali ended a second consecutive stage having given everything. The defending champion lies third overall
Stage won, podium girls kissed, and champagne sprayed, ‘Purito’ puts on his jacket and heads for the hotel