May 11, 2011 – Dutchman Pieter Weening capped a brave solo attack with victory in the fifth stage of the Giro d’Italia Wednesday to take the race leader’s pink jersey from Britain’s David Millar.
A day after the peloton held a 216 km procession to honour stricken Belgian Wouter Weylandt, who died in a crash on Monday, there was drama aplenty on the strade bianche (white roads) that peppered the last 19km of the 191 km ride from Piombino to Orvieto.
It was on one of the few paved sections in the finale, around 15km from the finish, that Weening’s teammate, Tom-Jelle Slagter, caused brief anxiety when he fell hard and lay prone as his physios called for the medical car.
Still conscious, Slagter was given medical attention at the scene before being taken to hospital.
An earlier solo breakaway by BMC’s Martin Kohler came to an end around 10 km from the finish after Weening and Frenchman John Gadret of AG2R had pulled away from a reduced peloton.
Weening then left both riders in the white dust to go on and build the foundations of a deserved victory.
Eight seconds in his wake Colombia’s Fabio Duarte dominated the sprint for second place with compatriot Jose Serpa in third and Frenchman Christophe Le Mevel in fourth.
Weening now has a two-second overall lead on Italian Marco Pinotti of HTC-Highroad, who wore the pink jersey into stage two following his team’s domination of the opening stage team time trial.
The 30-year-old last won a stage on a Grand Tour at the 2005 Tour de France when he was given the benefit of a photo finish ahead of German Andreas Kloden.
The sixth stage on Thursday is a 216 km ride from Orvieto to Fiuggi on mainly flat roads, giving the sprinters a rare chance to shine.