Trek-Segafredo's Bauke Mollema came to the Vuelta a Espana with the idea of going for breakaways and after just five days of racing, at Roquetas de Mar, the Dutchman came the closest yet to snatching a win.
Part of a day-long break that initially contained a massive 25 riders, Mollema was outsprinted by Simon Clarke (Team EF-Education First) in the three-way duel with the Australian and Alessandro De Marchi (BMC Racing Team) that decided the stage.
A former leader of the Vuelta a España in 2011, Mollema is a long way out of the overall battle, being nearly ten minutes down on former race leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) before today's stage.
But with his eyes on the breakaways, and having been definitively ruled out of the overall after stage 4's summit finish, Mollema said that he was not going to let a chance like Wednesday's go by
"It was a tactical final, I really wanted to go for a breakaway, finally I did it," Mollema explained. "There was a big fight to get in the break but that went well, and then the three of us went for it from there.
"We worked well together until the final and then it became pretty tactical, nobody wanted to pull any more and we almost got caught."
Mollema explained that he was half-hoping that the sight of the trio of breakaway racers closing in behind would cause Clarke to panic. But it didn't work out.
"I was hoping Clarke would get a little nervous and start to pull earlier in the finish, but he didn't. It was just a short sprint in the last 300 metres, we were all still fresh, I tried to do it, but it was impossible, he was a little bit faster and congrats to him."
Mollema agreed that there were certain similarities between this finale and the recent Clasica San Sebastian where after the hills and mountain passes had whittled down the leaders, he finished second in a duel against Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors).
"I've done this in the past, like in the last ten days in the Tour, I like racing like this, racing aggressively and going for the breakaways. It's a nice way of showing what I can do and what the team can do, too.
"It was already my goal before the Vuelta to fight for stage wins, I was close today and I'm sure there will be other opportunities in the next two weeks."
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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