Race report

Louis Vervaeke goes solo in the break for Team Sunweb

Giro d'Italia

A difficult start to stage five saw Team Sunweb’s GC man Tom Dumoulin abandon in the neutral zone, just two kilometres into the stage. The 2017 winner suffered a crash on yesterday’s stage four and tried his best to continue, but his injuries proved too painful to go on.

Following the news of his teammates abandon, Louis Vervaeke flew up the road in the day’s five man breakaway, with the first attack of the day proving to be the move that stuck. Rainy conditions made for a difficult 140 kilometres between Frascati and Terracina and the peloton only granted the breakaway a lead that peaked not much over the two minute marker.

With 53 kilometres to go and in advance of the day’s only KOM, Vervaeke jumped from the break, going on to mop up maximum points and lead the race solo for a brave 30 kilometres in treacherous conditions.

After being mopped up by the peloton with just over 20 kilometres to go, the sprinter’s teams took the reigns and brought the day down to a sprint, with Ackermann taking the win in the Maglia Ciclamino.

After the stage Vervaeke said: “It was a huge disappointment for us all to see Tom in such a bad shape yesterday. It was already pretty clear this morning that it would be hard to finish the stage and when I heard that he stopped the race, I thought I would go for it. Our focus is now to try and win a stage and on a day like this in a good breakaway, you never know how far you can go. It was pretty cold and wet out there which made it hard, but we’ll keep at it.”

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef added: “We all knew the situation with Tom upfront, so we decided to show our teeth and take an aggressive approach aiming for a breakaway. Louis was sharp at the start and immediately got himself into a group. The time gap stayed between one and two minutes and on the last climb of the day, he sped up and went alone. He did a strong job, but in the end it came to a bunch sprint. We didn’t get a result, but we showed good spirit and we will continue the upcoming weeks like this.”