Ulissi bags Giro stage win

Diego Ulissi timed his attack to perfection to claim victory on a tricky fifth stage at the Giro d'Italia as Michael Matthews retained the race lead.

The Italian (Lampre-Merida) prevailed on the wet drag up to Viggiano as the general classification contenders came to the fore for the first time in the race.

Ulissi shrewdly followed the wheel of overnight leader Matthews before launching his sprint up to the line, claiming victory by one second over Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) and Julian Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing).

Rain arrived in the closing stages making for tricky conditions on a technical local circuit, with a crash causing panic and splits in the peloton with 16 kilometres remaining.

Sixth on the stage was enough to ensure Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) held on to the Maglia Rosa for another day with a lead of 14 seconds over team-mate Pieter Weening.

The peloton, including representation from Katusha and Team Sky, had been forced to chase down young Italian Gianluca Brambilla in the closing stages after the Omega Pharma - Quick-Step rider had used a treacherous wet descent as a springboard to go clear.

Inside the final kilometre Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) was the first of the big names to attack before Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) drove for the line. Neither had any answer to Ulissi who came from a number of bike-lengths back to take the win.

Tough finish

The 203-kilometre test saw the first real climbs of the race and the prospect of an attacking finale with bonus seconds on the line.

A hefty group of 11 riders went away as the race left Taranto with an interesting breakaway composition featuring a number of sprinters, all with eyes on the red points jersey.

Ben Swift (Team Sky) got the better of Elia Viviani (Cannondale) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) at the intermediate sprint in Montalbano Jonico but it would be Viviani who ended the day in red.

Back in the pack Orica-GreenEdge set about resolutely defending the race lead, committing numbers to the front to gradually pull back the ever-weakening break.

Despite not taking the stage win, Matthews was able to console himself with another day in pink as the fight for race victory continues to brew behind him.