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Windy mountain showdown at the Race of the Two Seas

Bunch sprint on breezy Sassotetto summit finish

Despite the summit finish being truncated by 2.5 km because of violent winds, Friday’s throwdown on Sassotetto was a thrilling one, but it failed to go a long way to determine who would raise Neptune’s trident in San Benedetto del Tronto on Sunday. Primoz Roglič, with newly shaved legs, took his second consecutive win in a small bunch sprint and assumed the race lead. Michael Woods was top Canadian in 24th, which vaulted him up to 26th on GC.

Roglic adds Friday’s win to Thursday’s atop Tortoreto. Photo: Sirotti

The Course

Early on Friday the route was changed because of high winds. Unlike Paris-Nice’s sixth stage, which was canceled, Race of the Two Seas organizers lopped off the top of summit finish. Sassotetto, originally a 13.2-km climb, was cut down to 10.7 km to avoid the mayhem at the top. What was supposed to be the 2023 WorldTour’s first HC-rated climb was demoted to a strong Cat. 1.

Here were the top three heading into Friday:
1) Lennard Kämna (Germany/Bora-Hansgrohe) 15:38:46
2) Primož Roglič (Slovenia/Jumbo-Visma) +0:06
3) João Almeida (Portugal/UAE-Emirates) +0:08

An intrepid sextet of fugitives spent most of the day at the front buffeted by the wind. Ineos Grenadiers reeled in the remnants after the Gualdo climb with 31 km to go. Movistar took over on the way to Sassotetto’s foot. Turning into 43 km/hour headwinds was taxing–would attacks be discouraged?

With the naked trees shuddering around them, the streamlined peloton climbed at a stately trot, Kämna’s Bora-Hansgrohe taking over from Movistar. Forty riders headed into the last 6 kilometres.

Adam Yates’ UAE-Emirates wound it up. Roglič was oddly far back in the stretched bunch, and Tom Pidcock was tailgunner charlie.

Damiano Caruso made a dig with 4.6 km to climb. He dangled seven to eight seconds off the front.

Caruso’s gap began to widen. Enric Mas made a big move just before the red kite and the group reformed with 350 metres remaining. Twenty guys sprinted it out and Roglič came around the left-hand side to double up his victories. The Slovenian leads Kämna by four seconds in the GC with two stages to go.

2023 Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 5
1) Primož Roglič (Slovenia/Jumbo-Visma) 4:38:42
2) Giulio Ciccone (Italy/Trek-Segafredo) s.t.
3) Tao Geoghegan Hart (Great Britain/Ineos) s.t.
24) Michael Woods (Canada/Israel-Premier Tech) +0:37
29) Derek Gee (Canada/Israel-Premier Tech) +1:10

2023 Tirreno-Adriatico GC
1) Primož Roglič (Slovenia/Jumbo-Visma) 20:17:14
2) Lennard Kämna (Germany/Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:04
3) João Almeida (Portugal/UAE-Emirates) +0:08
26) Michael Woods (Canada/Israel-Premier Tech) +2:20
41) Derek Gee (Canada/Israel-Premier Tech) +8:08