Fri, May 12, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Pink for Bob Jungels as Luka Pibernik bungles

AFP, MESSINA, Italy

The peloton passes near Taormina, Italy, during the fifth stage of the 100th Giro d’Italia from Pedara to Messina on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP

Luxembourg’s Bob Jungels kept Britain’s Geraint Thomas at bay on Wednesday to retain the maglia rosa after a “crazy” fifth stage that saw two riders celebrate victory.

Jungels, who took the race lead from Quick-Step Floors teammate Fernando Gaviria after the fourth stage, maintained his six-second advantage over Team Sky’s Thomas as Gaviria snatched the stage win.

However, at the conclusion of an undulating ride from the foot of Mount Etna to Messina that brought an end to two stages on Sicily, the crowd was left baffled as young Slovenian Luka Pibernik starting celebrating fully 6km from the finish.

As the peloton raced toward the finish line for the first time, signaling the start of a final, 6km closing circuit, Pibernik launched a solo attack that he held all the way to the finish line, where he sat up and spread his arms in victory.

He was celebrating alone.

As thousands of puzzled fans looked on, 23-year-old Pibernik quickly realized his embarrassing gaffe before being swallowed up by the peloton as they began the final circuit.

Bahrain-Merida team leader and defending Giro d’Italia champion Vincenzo Nibali later explained what had confused his young teammate.

“The battery on his radio earpiece ran out. We tried calling him back to tell him, but he couldn’t hear us, but he’s young, things like that can happen,” Nibali said.

Gaviria, making his Giro and Grand Tour debut, emerged from Irishman Sam Bennett’s back wheel in the final 200m of a long and wind-hit home straight to claim his second victory after breaking his Giro duck on stage three.

In doing so, the 22-year-old from Colombia became only the second rider this century, after former champion Damiano Cunego, to claim two stages on the race before his 23rd birthday.

As the sprinters’ teams battled to move their stage contenders to the front, Jungels remained alert to late attacks from his general classification rivals and held off Thomas, but said the “crazy” circuit made it a nervous finale.

“It was a dangerous and crazy final to be honest. I’m super happy that Fernando took the victory, but it cost me a lot of nerves here in Messina,” Jungels said.

“It was amazing to see so many people on the streets, but it’s also sometimes very dangerous because people want to take the pictures and selfies and whatever, and they come closer and closer to the road,” he said. “When there’s a bunch of 200 people [cyclists] it’s dangerous, but that’s cycling.”

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