Despite the organisers being forced to make amendments to the route and take out the famous Gavia climb, the fifth stage of the race was certainly still an incredibly difficult day in the saddle; with roughly 2500m of climbing in only 88 kilometres.
Once out of the neutralised zone, the riders faced a small uncategorised ascent before the first main challenge of the day. Only classified as a second category ascent, the climb averaged a steep seven percent for just over nine kilometres. The bunch attacked the climb hard, with riders hoping to break clear but nothing stuck and the peloton were grouped going over through the QOM point. However, the high pace had exploded the bunch and there was only an elite group of 25 at the head of the race as they started the descent. There was a small hiatus once in the valley and some riders were able to get back on; with the main bunch numbering around 45 riders strong.
A solo rider then launched an attack and managed to escape the peloton, quickly building up an advantage of over two minutes. As the hostilities resumed in the bunch and the terrain began to roll again, Leah Kirchmann broke clear with another rider and they made it up to the head of the race. Continuing to work well they held a lead of two minutes in the last 20 kilometres but as the road started to head upwards again, the peloton slowly reeled them in. Kirchmann put up a fight and was the last rider caught by an attacking Van Vleuten, who would go on to win the stage, at seven kilometres left in the day.
On the brutally steep gradients and with every rider in the peloton suffering, the gap to the front of the race grew even further. Following on from her good results earlier in the race, Lucinda Brand delivered a very impressive performance to win the sprint from an elite group of riders for second place on the day, climbing up the GC standings as a result. Juliette Labous dug deep on the tough finish climb as well and extended her lead in the best young rider’s competition, even moving into the top ten overall too.