Stage 5 of the Vuelta a Espana might have been suited to the sprinters but that didn't stop Simon Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac) from springing a surprise attack in the closing kilometres into Lugo. The attack from Clarke was matched by Philippe Gilbert (BMC) as the duo went clear in an attempt to foil the sprint teams.
With Cannondale-Drapac without a sprinter in the Vuelta and BMC looking after race leader Darwin Atapuma, the likes of Team Sky, Tinkoff, Lotto-Soudal and Etixx-QuickStep swelled to the front. Despite a late crash in which Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) hit an unprotected pole and broke his collarbone, the sprint teams were able to reel in the duo with Gianni Meersman becoming the first multiple stage winner of the 2016 Vuelta.
"It was pretty uneventful today up until 10km to go. We got a lot more rain than we expected. We were expecting maybe a bit of wet roads in the first two hours but in the end, it rained for more than half the stage. But then the sun came out for the final. That was good," Clarke said of the stage in which he finished 22nd.
"The team came up with a plan for me to have an attack being that it was a tricky uphill finish into Lugo. I thought it was a good idea. The plan was to attack, so I attacked. It was a bit tricky with so many corners not knowing what was around the next corner to take too many risks. It was good going with Gilbert and trying something different."
While Clarke, a stage winner at the 2012 Vuelta a Espana and overall KOM winner in that year's race, missed out on the victory there was some consolation for Cannondale-Drapac as the American team won the team prize.
Vuelta a Espana - Stage 5 Video highlights