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Thomas takes biggest road win of his career in Giro d’Italia Stage 5 as Pocagar keeps leader’s pink jersey

Benjamin Thomas

Team Lidl-Trek’s Italian rider Jonathan Milan, best sprinter’s cyclamen jersey, crosses the finish line of the 5th stage of the 107th Giro d’Italia cycling race, 178 km between Genova and Lucca, on May 8, 2024 in Lucca. Team Cofidis’ French rider Benjamin Thomas won the stage ahead of Team EF Education’s Danish rider Michael Valgren, second, and Team Polti-Kometa’s Italian rider Andrea Pietrobon, third. (Photo by Luca Bettini / AFP) (Photo by LUCA BETTINI/AFP via Getty Images)

LUCA BETTINI/AFP via Getty Images

LUCCA, Italy — Benjamin Thomas of France got the biggest victory of his career on the road as he won the fifth stage of the Giro d’Italia while Tadej Pogacar kept the leader’s pink jersey.

In a surprising result, Thomas won from a breakaway, sprinting to edge out Michael Valgren and Andrea Pietrobon at the end of the undulating 111-mile (178-kilometer) route from Genoa to Lucca.

“It was like a long, long, long team pursuit,” Thomas said with a laugh. “We did an amazing break and I don’t believe it. It was really, really hard in the finale, every pull was full gas. It’s unbelievable.”

“I think 10k to go we were with 50-40 seconds still and it was tailwind so we knew we could have played with the bunch. If we were going 60kph it was not for the bunch to close.”

The 28-year-old Thomas, who lives in Italy, is a four-time world champion on the track but had never won a stage in a grand tour. It was also a first win of the season for his team Cofidis.

Thomas almost won a stage in the Tour de France two years ago but was caught inside the final few hundred meters, in Carcassonne — a similarly stunning walled city to that of Lucca.

“I thought to Carcassonne in the last kilometer and I said ‘maybe today is my day’,” he said. “I think nobody bet on the attackers today.”

Pogacar, the two-time Tour de France champion, finished safely in the peloton to remain 46 seconds ahead of Geraint Thomas and 47 seconds ahead of Daniel Martinez.

There were several crashes but no one appeared seriously injured and all the main contenders managed to avoid them.

The breakaway Thomas was part of was not the only one of the day as a group of four riders set off right at the start. However, they were never allowed much of an advantage as team Alpecin–Deceuninck led a fast pace in the peloton and they were caught shortly after the first of the day’s two categorized climbs.

Thomas and another trio of riders attacked with around 78 kilometers remaining and swiftly built an advantage.

They had a lead of just over a minute as they hit the Montemagno climb and continued to work well together on the 20-kilometer run-in to the finish as they managed to hold off the charging peloton, which had hoped to set up their sprinters for the finale but got it badly wrong.

“I knew all the road of the final because I train there sometimes,” Thomas said. “It was helping me to know with the cobbles and the corners and it’s a nice thing to win in Italy, it means a lot for me.”

Stage 6 is flat for the first part but then has two categorized climbs in the undulating second half of the 112-mile (180-kilometer) route from Torre Del Lago Puccini — on the outskirts of Viareggio — to Rapolano Terme.

“Today was an interesting day,” Pogacar said. “The last hour was very quick with a very tense finish.

“The breakaway stayed ahead because it got away late and nobody managed to reel them in. Tomorrow will be a stage to raced with a lot of attention so as not to lose time.”

The Giro ends in Rome on May 26.