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"It was a harder race than we could expect because of bad weather and high pace. Anyway, I am happy I kept the pink jersey," Paolini says

Photo: Sirotti

GIRO D'ITALIA

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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LUCA PAOLINI

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08.05.2013 @ 20:17 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Luca Paolini (Katusha) had a scare in the final part of today's fifth stage of the Giro d'Italia as he was almost brought down in the crash that took down a number of riders inside the final kilometer of the race. Luckily he managed to stay upright and even though he regretted the lost opportunity he was happy to save his maglia rosa on a day that was much harder than expected.

 

With a sprint finish expected it was always in the cards that Luca Paolini would keep the maglia rosa at the end of today's fifth stage of the Giro d'Italia but the stage turned out to be much more dramatic that the veteran Italian had hoped for. A late crash by Luka Mezgec (Argos-Shimano) almost brought him down as he prepared to contest the sprint finish and help his teammate Angel Vicioso who also fancied his chances on the uphill finishing straight.

 

He managed to stay upright but all hopes of a high finish had disappeared as he put his feet back into the pedals and rolled across the finish line to take a modest 37th place. Up ahead Vicioso managed to avoid the carnage and the Spaniard won the sprint for second behind the lone John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) who had benefitted from the crash to open up a big gap.

 

The crash happened due to wet roads on a day that was characterized by torrential rain at times and the difficult weather conditions had made it a much harder day than Paolini had expected.

 

"It was a harder race than we could expect because of bad weather and high pace," he said. "Anyway, I am happy I kept the pink jersey. In the end there was a crash and I couldn’t avoid it. It’s a pity because the final was suitable to my characteristics. I am also sorry for Angel Vicioso: the team is working great for me, so they deserve a victory too."

 

I was well positioned with Angel Vicioso who wanted to sprint. I was there to help him and get a good placing myself. Logically, the riders who wanted to get round the corner first took a few risks.
I saw the fall, and luckily, I landed on my feet.”

 

At 36 years and a long history as one of Italy's best classics riders Luca Paolini is a very unlikely debutant in his home grand tour and many have been surprised to realize that the veteran had never been on the start line before. With plenty of attention coming from his overall lead he feels that his stint in the maglia rosa makes up for the lost time in his biggest home race.

 

 

“This Maglia Rosa is giving me a taste of the Giro in concentrated form," he said. "I’m experiencing all the good things: the people, the Maglia Rosa, being recognized on the road, people calling my name, the respect of the peloton. I’ve had them in the past, but never like this.”

 

Paolini has a good chance to keep the jersey for another day as tomorrow's sixth stage is completely flat. Starting at 14.15 you can follow his jersey defence on CyclingQuotes.com/live.

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