Two truths were told in Thursday's "race of the truth". Truth number one is that Fabiana Luperini is really in top shape, and very close to getting back to eventual victory in a great stage race like the Giro d'Italia. Despite being anything but a pure ITT specialist, the tiny climber from Tuscany had a solid performance in the 9.3-kilometre ride through the streets of Novara, finishing in 31st place about 35" behind the winner, but limiting his losses to Edita Pucinskaite (21st in the stage) and all other main GC prospects, thus holding on to the maglia rosa by a consistent margin. With two demanding stages, that suits enough Luperini's skills, looming ahead in the next two days, the Menikini team leader is by far the highest candidate to stand atop the podium come Sunday.
The second truth is that, when it's all about challenging the clock, English-speaking contenders are always a force to be reckoned with. And today's challenge was no exception: Vicki Whitelaw of the Australian National Team put in a stellar performance to claim line honours in 11'53”43, and California's Amber Neben (Team Flexpoint) hit the stage podium by having the third best record, worse than the Aussie's by just 01"47. In between them was Kazakhstan's national ITT champion Zoulfia Zabirova (Bigla Cycling Team), who lost today's close battle to Whitelaw by a mere 36 hundredths of a second. Even smaller was the gap between Neben and fourth place finisher Linda Villumsen of Denmark: one hundredth of a second!
The day's top ten featured also Sara Carrigan, but no girls from the home side: the best-placed Italian was Vera Carrara (Team CMax-Dilà), ending up in spot number 13, fifteen seconds behind Vicki Whitelaw. Pucinskaite's teammate/compatriot Claudia Hausler (Ger - Equipe Nurnberger Versicherung) maintained the best young rider's white jersey (Maglia Bianca) as much as three-stage winner Ina Yoko Teutenberg (Team Columbia) keeps leading the points classification, and Fabiana Luperini remains undisputed Queen of the Mountains.
Stage 5 (Novara ITT, 9.3 km): Top 10 Places
1. WHITELAW, Vicki (Aus - AUSTRALIA) - 11'53"43
2. ZABIROVA, Zoulfia (Kaz - BIGLA CYCLING TEAM) - 11'53"79
3. NEBEN, Amber (USA - FLEXPOINT) - 11'54"90
4. VILLUMSEN, Linda (Den - COLUMBIA WOMEN) - 11'54"91
5. BECKER, Charlotte (Ger - NURNBERGER VERSICHERUNG) - 11'56"12
6. WILD, Kirsten (Hol - AA-DRINK CYCLING TEAM) - 11'56"29
7. LJUNGSKOG, Susanne (Swe - TEAM FLEXPOINT) - 12'04"80
8. CARRIGAN, Sara (Aus - AUSTRALIA) - 12'05"17
9. VILAJOSANA ANDREU, Marta (Spa - TEAM CMAX DILA) - 12'06"46
10. MELCHERS VAN POPPEL, Mirjam (Hol - TEAM FLEXPOINT) - 12'06"72
19th Women's Tour of Italy - GC after Stage 5: Top 10 Places
1. LUPERINI, Fabiana (Ita - MENIKINI-SELLE ITALIA) - 12h58'40"
2. PUCINSKAITE, Edita (Lit - NURNBERGER VERSICHERUNG) - at 48"
3. GUDERZO, Tatiana (Ita - GS GAUSS RDZ ORMU) - at 01'16"
4. BRAENDLI, Nicole (Swi - BIGLA CYCLING TEAM) - at 01'48"
5. HAUSLER, Claudia (Ger - NURNBERGER VERSICHERUNG) - at 01'48""
6. NEBEN, Amber (USA - TEAM FLEXPOINT) - at 03'10"
7. MORENO ALLUE, Maribel (Spa - SPANISH NT) - at 03'18"
8. MELCHERS VAN POPPEL Mirjam (Hol - TEAM FLEXPOINT) - at 03'36"
9. KIRCH, Rosane (Bra - MICHELA FANINI-RECORD) - at 03'44"
10. POLIKEVICIUTE, Jolanta (Lit - CHIRIO-FORNO D'ASOLO) - at 03'52"
* Complete Stage Results and Overall Standings here (pdf file)
Points - Standings after Stage 5
1. TEUTENBERG Ina Yoko (Ger - COLUMBIA WOMEN)) - 45 p.
2. WILD Kirsten (Hol - AA-DRINK CYCLING TEAM) - 30 p.
3. BRONZINI Giorgia (Ita - TITANEDI-FREZZA-ACCA DUE O) - 26 p.
4. GILMORE Rochelle (Aus - MENIKINI-SELLE ITALIA) - 22 p.
5. LUPERINI, Fabiana - MENIKINI-SELLE ITALIA) - 15 p.
Mountains - Standings after Stage 5
1. LUPERINI, Fabiana (Ita - MENIKINI-SELLE ITALIA) - 21 p.
2. HAUSLER, Claudia (Ger - NURNBERGER VERSICHERUNG) - 13 p.
3. GUDERZO, Tatiana (Ita - GS GAUSS RDZ-ORMU) - 11 p.
4. PUCINSKAITE, Edita (Lit - NURNBERGER VERSICHERUNG) - 11 p.
5. BRANDLI, Nicole (Swi - BIGLA CYCLING TEAM) - 9 p.
Young Riders - Standings after Stage 5
1. HAUSLER, Claudia (Ger - NURNBERGER VERSICHERUNG) - 13h00'28"
2. SANCHIS, CHAFER Ana (Spa - SPANISH NT) - at 02'30"
3. BASTIANELLI, Marta (Ita - TEAM CMAX DILA) - at 03'18"
* 19th Women's Giro d'Italia: Prologue, Stage 1 & 2
* 19th Women's Giro d'Italia: Stage 3
* 19th Women's Giro d'Italia: Stage 4