Giro d'Italia: Sir Bradley Wiggins fails to make up ground as John Degenkolb wins stage five

Luca Paolini retains pink jersey

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The Independent Online

John Degenkolb sprinted to victory on the fifth stage of the Giro d'Italia on Wednesday, following a crash near the finish, as Italian Luca Paolini retained the overall leader's pink jersey.

Degenkolb, who rides for Argos-Shimano, won in 4 hours, 37 minutes, 48 seconds along the mainly flat, 199-kilometer (123.6-mile) leg from Cosenza to Matera.

It is a first stage victory in the Giro for the 24-year-old German, who finished several bike lengths ahead of Angel Vicioso. Paul Maertens was third.

The end saw a crash in the lead group just over a kilometer from the finish line. One of Degenkolb's teammates, Luka Mezgec, crashed on the final turn, bringing several other riders down with him.

Marco Canola raced clear but the Italian was unable to hold off his pursuers.

All the riders delayed by the crash behind Degenkolb were awarded the same time, which meant Paolini kept his pink jersey.

Overall favorite Bradley Wiggins, who lost 17 seconds on Tuesday, remained sixth in the general standings, 34 seconds behind Paolini. Main rival Vincenzo Nibali was still fourth, 31 seconds off the pink jersey.

The stage had another early break and Tomas Gil, Stefano Pirazzi, Alan Marangoni, Ricardo Mestre, Brian Bulgac and Rafael Andriato swiftly built a lead of nearly 10 minutes.

Pirazzi was dropped after 35 but the remaining quintet maintained a healthy advantage.

The breakaway was swallowed up by the peloton on the first of the two climbs near the finish.

Mark Cavendish, who won on the opening day in Naples, fought hard up the climb to Montescaglioso to keep his chances of another stage victory alive.

However, he received no help on the descent and was unable to stay in contention.

Although heavy rain had stopped by the time cyclists arrived at the finish, the roads remained slippery and that perhaps contributed to the crash.

Degenkolb avoided the crash and raced in pursuit of Canola, catching him in the final 300 meters to win by several bike lengths.

Thursday's sixth stage is another mainly flat one, along 168 kilometers (104 miles) from Mola di Bari to Margherita di Savoia.

Classification from Giro d'Italia after Stage 5...

1 Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha 19hrs 56mins 39secs, 2 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling at 0.17secs, 3 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team at 0.26, 4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team at 0.31, 5 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp at 0.34, 6 Bradley Wiggins (Gbr) Sky Procycling at same time, 7 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha at 0.36, 8 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling at 0.37, 9 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia at 0.39, 10 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team at 0.42