German profits from Argos-Shimano team mate's crash to ride away in finale...

John Degenkolb, winner of five stages in last year's Vuelta, has won his maiden Giro d'Italia stage in Matera this afternoon. The German's victory came after a crash on the penultimate corner, caused by Argos-Shimano team mate Luka Mezgec losing control on a road still wet from an earlier downpour, ruled a number of his rivals for the win out of contention.

The rider who went down had been sitting second in the group behind Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox's Marco Canola, who tried to hold on for what would have been the UCI Professional Continental outfit's second win in as many days.

However, Degenkolb passed him with a couple of hundred metres left. Katusha's Angel Vicioso finished second, with Blanco's Paul Martens third. Katusha's Luca Paolini managed to avoid the crash and retains the race leader's maglia rosa.

Degenkolb was among a handful of sprinters who had managed to retain contact with the front group on a 203km stage from Cosenza that represented the first realistic chance of a stage finish since the opening day in Naples.

In particular, the first of those climbs, which was short but punchy with a maximum gradient of more than 10 per cent ahead of the summit, crested 20 kilometres out, presented a big obstacle to any chance of a bunch finish.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Mark Cavendish pushed himself to his limits to get up it, zig-zagging across the road on the to try and cope with the toughest section, but he crossed it the best part of a minute after the first riders had gone over.

The former world champion would get some unexpected help from his former colleagues at Team Sky to try and rejoin the front group after Rigoberto Uran, lying second on GC this morning and a potential leader of the British outfit’s challenge should anything happen to Bradley Wiggins, punctured.

While the final climb to Matera ahead of an undulating last 9km was gentler than the one that preceded it, Cavendish was unable to get back across to the front group ahead of the start of the ascent, putting paid to his chances of challenging for the win today.

A number of attacks inside the closing kilometres were pulled back, including one by Farnese Vini-Selle Italia’s Marco Rabottini, winner of a stage and the mountains jersey in last year’s Giro, and another by AG2R’s Hubert Dupont as BMC Racing forced the pace, looking to set up Cadel Evans.

Inside the final kilometre though, the smart money would have been on Degenkolb to prevail on the type of finish that suits him if he’s around to challenge – although the manner of his victory turned out to be unexpected.

Uran - rumoured this morning to be leaving Sky at the end of the season together with compatriot Sergio Henao, coincidentally on a day when it was confirmed that Richie Porte's contract has been extended - managed to rejoin the front group and remains second on GC, while Wiggins remains sixth, 34 seconds down on leader Paolini.

Giro d’Italia Stage 5 result 
1  DEGENKOLB John        ARG    04:37:48
2  VICIOSO Angel         KAT All at same time
3  MARTENS Paul          BLA
4  HENAO Sergio          SKY
5  TRENTIN Matteo        OPQ
6  PANTANO Jarlinson     COL
7  OSS Daniel            BMC
8  KEUKELEIRE Jens       OGE
9  BOLE Grega            VCD
10 KANGERT Tanel         AST
11 GOLAS Michal          OPQ
12 CANOLA Marco          BAR
13 RODRIGUEZ Jackson     AND
14 VIVIANI Elia          CAN
15 BOUHANNI Nacer        FDJ
16 DE GREEF Francis      LTB
17 MAJKA Rafal           TST
18 NIEMIEC Przemyslaw    LAM
19 ROSA Diego            AND

Overall Standings after Stage 5

1  PAOLINI Luca          KAT   19:56:39
2  URAN Rigoberto        SKY      00:17
3  INTXAUSTI Benat       MOV      00:26
4  NIBALI Vincenzo       AST      00:31
5  HESJEDAL Ryder        GRS      00:34
6  WIGGINS Bradley       SKY      00:34
7  CARUSO Giampaolo      KAT      00:36
8  HENAO Sergio          SKY      00:37
9  SANTAMBROGIO Mauro    VIN      00:39
10 EVANS Cadel           BMC      00:42

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.