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Giro d'Italia Stage 5: Alberto Contador seizes race lead, Jan Polanc wins stage

GC battle explodes into life, with Fabio Aru and Richie Porte staying with Spanish former winner

Lampre-Merida's Jan Polanc launched a solo attack from the break to win the first summit finish of the 2015 Giro d'Italia to win Stage 5 of what is turning into a pulsating race at Abetone, while behind him the fight for the overall exploded as Alberto Contador of Tinkoff-Saxo rode into the maglia rosa.

Contador, winner of the race in 2008 and again in 2011 - he was subsequently stripped of that latter title - attacked with a little more than 5 kilometres of the 152 kilometre stage remaining, just before the toughest part of the climb.

He was joined by Team Sky's Richie Porte and Astana's Fabio Aru, the latter getting support as team mate Mikel Landa also got across.

Aru finished third on the stage as he outsprinted Porte and Contador for the line to claim four bonus seconds, crossing just behind one of the other members of what had been a five-man escape group, IAM Cycling's Sylvain Chavanel.

The Slovenian rider, Polanc, had attacked early on the final ascent, and while the explosive racing behind ate into his advantage, the 23-year-old still had ample time to savour his victory.

Behind, Astana riders were making a series of moves off the front of the main group to try and put Contador's Tinkoff-Saxo team under pressure, but it was the Spaniard's move that caused the GC battle to begin in earnest.

He, Aru and Porte each tried to no avail to shake the others off as they headed into the final 5 kilometres. The Astana rider now lies second overall, with the Sky man third.

The day's big loser again was 2013 runner-up Rigoberto Uran of Etixx-Quick Step, who lost more time on his rivals and lies nearly a minute and a half off the race lead.

"My attack wasn't planned," Contador explained after the stage. "I felt good, looked around, and went.

"Aru and Richie Porte are strong, but Uran and others were dropped and I'm happy with the situation after five days.

"I didn't expect the maglia rosa, but to have it is always fantastic. It's a nice present, and a real honour.

"I love the Giro d'Italia, the people and the country, and to wear the maglia rosa tomorrow during the stage will be fantastic, although the one that counts is the maglia rosa in Milan, so if someone else takes it tomorrow, it won't be a problem."

Stage winner Polanc said: "The day I came to the Giro, I turned 23, so this is a wonderful birthday present. It feels strange, and hard to believe. I don't think I'll sleep tonight.

"My legs were good today, and my goal was to build a big lead, and then worry about who was the strongest.

"I'm a good climber, but the climb isn't steep and Chavanel is a good rider. When I was on my own, they told me the chase behind was fast, but when I heard my gap, I knew that I would win."

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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