BENEVENTO, Italy (AP) German rider Andre Greipel won a mass sprint by a large margin to take the fifth stage of the Giro d’Italia on Wednesday, and Tom Dumoulin held onto the overall leader’s pink jersey.
Greipel surged ahead on the final straight and had time to raise his arms before crossing the line.
It was Greipel’s 18th stage win in a Grand Tour – four at the Giro, 10 at the Tour de France and four in the Spanish Vuelta – and the 130th victory overall in his career.
“Chapeau to my teammates today. It was hard for them to chase down the break but they continued to work for me even if the other teams didn’t help us,” Greipel said. “In the sprint I tried not to be blocked in. There was still 300 meters to go but I felt good and decided to go for it.”
Riding for the Lotto Soudal team, Greipel clocked nearly six hours over the hilly 233-kilometer (145-mile) route from Praia to Benevento – the second-longest stage of this year’s race.
Arnaud Demare crossed second and Sonny Colbrelli was third.
Marcel Kittel, the German who won the opening two sprinting stages in the Netherlands, lost contact with the main pack in the final kilometers.
“I just wasn’t strong enough today,” Kittel said.
Dumoulin, of Team Giant-Alpecin, is 16 seconds ahead of Bob Jungels, with Diego Ulissi third overall, 20 seconds behind.
Alejandro Valverde, one of the favorites for the overall title, gained four seconds on rivals Vincenzo Nibali and Mikel Landa, who got caught behind a fall on the final curve.
An early breakaway of four riders – Daniel Oss, Alexander Foliforov, Amets Txurukka and Pavel Brutt – gained a lead of several minutes before being caught by the chasing pack with less than 10 kilometers (6 miles) to go.
Thursday’s Stage 6 is a 157-kilometer (98-mile) leg from Ponte to the Roccaraso, featuring the race’s first uphill finish.
“It’s going to be a tough finish and we’ll really find out how everyone’s form is,” Dumoulin said.
The 99th Giro ends May 29 in Turin.