A crash on the penultimate descent in the fifth stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco dropped Rabobank's Robert Gesink from third to eighth place overall. Early worries of a broken hand bone did not hold up, and the Dutch rider is expected to be at the start of Saturday's closing time trial.
Near the end of the stage, the peloton climbed the very steep Alto de Aia twice, and Gesink went down on the descent between climbs. Earlier former stage leader Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel) went down on the same spot, and a number of other riders crashed there later.
Gesink's front wheel slipped away, and he went down on his elbow and hip. He received four stitches in the elbow. He also complained of pain in his hand, which was slightly swollen, but team doctor Peter Essveldt said that there was no fracture.
The 23-year-old had gone into the stage in third place overall, only one second behind leader Alejandro Valverde. He managed to finish the day only 1:07 behind winner Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) and is now in eighth place overall, at 54 seconds.
Other than the crash, “everything went according to plan,” directeur sportif Jan Boven said. “We don't blame anybody. He rode well and if you look at the place where Robert crashed and more riders also went down, then you can just say it was plain bad luck.”