At the end of an 80-kilometer breakaway and showing himself to be more skillful and patient than his three escape companions, Benjamin Thomas won the 5th stage of the Tour of Italy, contested between Genoa and Lucca, on Wednesday. The 28-year-old rider thus signs the first French victory in the 2024 Giro. He also offers his team, Cofidis, a first success this season.

Thomas showed patience that paid off in the last few hundred meters by taking the risk of not reacting immediately to the attack of the Italian Andrea Pietrobon (Eolo-Kometa) in order to better overtake him just before the finish line. Thomas finally beat the Dane Michael Valgren (EF Education) and Andrea Pietrobon in the sprint.

“It was as unexpected as it was difficult to do, it’s crazy. I didn’t expect it at all, we went out to have fun,” explained the Frenchman, who came very close to a stage victory in the 2022 Tour de France in Carcassonne, before being caught at 500 m from the finish by the peloton. “When Pietrobon left, I didn’t want to go after him right away. I knew the final, I had already been here in training,” added Thomas, who lives and trains in Italy.

Pogacar “all out all day”

Multiple medalist in track cycling, Thomas explained, after his victory, that his breakaway of the day was “like a long team pursuit”. “We were doing over 60 km/h,” he said. It was complicated in the finale, we started to believe it 10 km from the finish. »

This 5th stage was also marked by numerous falls, including the spectacular one of Frenchman Christophe Laporte, which had no impact on the general classification. The Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates), leader of the Giro since his victory in the 2nd stage and big favorite for the event, remains at the top of the general classification ahead of the British Geraint Thomas (INEOS, 2nd at 46 seconds) and the Colombian Daniel Felipe Martinez (Bora-Hansgrohe, 3rd at 47 sec).

Pogacar, who is aiming for the Tour d’Italia-Tour de France double which has not been achieved in the same year since 1998, did not have a peaceful day: “It was a bit of a crazy stage, the team did a good job in a very, very fast final. We were at full tilt all day.”

The 6th stage, Thursday, 180 kilometers long between Torre del Lago Puccini and Rapolano Terme, is awaited with apprehension by the peloton: it takes white gravel paths and tricky portions of the Strade Bianche, a famous spring classic.

“You will have to be focused from start to finish. I am not doing this stage to save time but to not lose any,” assured “Pogi”, who won the Strade Bianche 2024 at the beginning of March after a solo raid of more than 80 kilometers