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Itzulia Basque Country stage 5 - Live coverage

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The penultimate stage of Itzulia Basque Country brings the peloton from Hondarriba to Ondarroa, and although there are three category 3 ascents along the way, this does not advertise itself as an obvious day for the GC men. “A priori, this is the ‘easiest’ stage of Itzulia, a stage where, if there are some sprinters, they will be able to take advantage of the opportunity to control things and set up a sprint," said technical director Roberto Laiseka. "On paper, the men in the general classification will be able to take it easier.”

The peloton is gathering on the start line for stage 5, which gets underway at 13.29 local time. 

General classification after stage 4

-156km

Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R-Citroen) is also a non-starter today. The Frenchman didn't start his season until last week's Cholet Pays de Loire due a knee injury and his withdrawal here is another setback ahead of the Ardennes Classics.

-148km

-145km

Some other riders are trying to make it across to this quintet, which looks to be establishing itself out in front. Meanwhile, Georg Zimmerman (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) has abandoned the race after his earlier crash.

-142km

Lone chaser Andreas Leknessund (DSM) is somewhere in the no man's land between the break and the peloton. The last time check had him 40 seconds down on the five men out in front.

Israel Start-Up Nation are setting the tempo in the peloton behind the break, which now has a lead of two minutes. 

After his canny attack yesterday, Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) is the first American to lead the Tour of the Basque Country since Chris Horner in 2010. The Arizonan will expect to defend the jersey this afternoon but he knows he will face an onslaught from Jumbo-Visma on Saturday's finale stage. "The final day is a real showdown, it'll be super hard all day and I hope I have legs for the finale," McNulty said. "But we've got Tadej [Pogacar] as well and we'll do our best to defend the jersey." Alasdair Fotheringham has more here.

-126km

-119km

Although Jumbo-Visma lost the overall lead yesterday, directeur sportif Grischa Niermann insisted the scenario was not an altogether negative one ahead of Saturday’s demanding finale to Arrate. “Of course, we’d always rather have the jersey, but we can’t control everything and for us a situation like this is also really good for the big stage on Saturday,” Niermann said. “We were talking about this scenario that could happen – but there are two riders who are a lot stronger uphill here and that’s Primož and Pogačar.” Alasdair Fotheringham has more here.

-110km

-103km

Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos) returned to action this week at Itzulia Basque Country following the crash that forced him to abandon Paris-Nice. The Briton’s training was limited in the build-up to the race and he has ridden here in support of Adam Yates. "For sure it's early to be racing again, I had two weeks off training but in reality, it was a bit more, to be honest as the first bit [of riding again] was indoors," Geoghegan Hart told Cyclingnews. "I only really did one full week of training before this so it's been a hard first few days, we're at the height of the season here with guys coming off of Tirreno and Paris-Nice but that's how it goes.” Alasdair Fotheringham has more here.

-94km

There are three category 3 climbs on the agenda this afternoon, starting with the ascent of Medexa (1.7km at 7.7%) after 89km. Gontzagaraiagana (2.6km at 6.5%) comes with 45km to go, while the summit of Ukaregi (5km at 4.8%) comes with 29km remaining.

-84km

Away from the Basque Country, it was confirmed yesterday that both Jai Hindley and Romain Bardet will ride the Tour of the Alps later this month after Team DSM were given a late invitation to the race. Bardet and Hindley have yet to confirm their Grand Tour plans for 2021, but this addition to their race programme would appear to indicate that at least one of them will line out in the Giro d'Italia. A number of confirmed Giro participants are already fine-tuning their form at Itzulia Basque Country, including race leader Brandon McNulty, Mikel Landa, Emanuel Buchmann and Bauke Mollema.

-72km

Israel Start-Up Nation, Team BikeExchange and EF Education First lead the peloton for the time being, with an eye to the chances of men like Daryl Impey, Dion Smith and Magnus Cort.

-67km

It's been an untroubled first day in yellow thus far for Brandon McNulty, who sits behind a delegation of UAE Team Emirates teammates near the head of the peloton. 

The race passed through Ondarroa for the first time before the climb of Medexa and now the route takes the riders inland for a loop over the climbs of Gontzagaraiagana and Ukaregi before they return to the coastal town for the finish. 

Colombian champion Sergio Higuita rides on the front of the peloton for EF Education-Nippo. The gap between the break and the peloton is stable for the time being, but we can expect the intensity to rise considerably over the day's final two climbs before the fast run-in to the finish.

-57km

-55km

Astana join the chase effort in the peloton as the gap drops inside two minutes. The bunch is passing through Aulesti ahead of the day's second classified climb, the category 3 ascent of Gontzagaraiagana (2.6km at 6.5%).

-49km

Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) takes over in the break as the climb begins in earnest. The Dutchman performed strongly at the GP Larciano last month, where he placed 5th. 

Andreas Leknessund (DSM) pays a price, perhaps, for his long spell of chasing to make it into the day's break, and he is distanced.

Tomasz Marcynski (Lotto Soudal) crashes at low speed at the rear of the peloton and comes off, but the Pole quickly remounts and rejoins the fray.

-45km

The peloton crests the summit of Gontzagaraiagana 1:28 down on the break, which again features six riders after Leknessund successfully latches back on.

-42km

-37km

The race is currently on wide and lightly descending roads ahead of the day's final classified climb to Ukaregi (5km at 4.8%), which begins shortly.

While the race profile suggests a relatively flat run-in, our man in the Basque Country Alasdair Fotheringham warns that the roads are rather more demanding in practice, with plenty of twists and turns, as well as a sharp kick upwards just before the final kilometres. The break might yet be brought back before the finish, but this finale is by no means ideally suited to a sprint.

-33km

Team Bike Exchange lead the peloton on the lower slopes of the climb and now Sergio Higuita injects a bit of pace for EF Education-Nippo. The gap drops a little, to 1:16.

Israel Start-Up Nation, Astana, Team BikeExchange and Caja Rural-Sergos RGA are all keen to push on the pace on this climb. UAE Team Emirates are queued up just behind them, but there is no sign of Primoz Roglic and Jumbo-Visma for the time being. 

-31km

The speed continues to rise in the peloton, where several riders have been jettisoned out the back on this climb. The break's lead drops a little more to 54 seconds.

Jefferson Cepeda sets the tempo in the bunch for Caja Rural. McNulty looks comfortable sitting amid a UAE Team Emirates delegation, while Roglic sits a few wheels further back in the green jersey.

Andreas Leknessund (DSM) has been caught by the peloton, while up ahead, the break is splintering, as the Deceuninck-QuickStep duo of Cerny and Honore force the pace. Bernard is the only man who can follow, with Amador and Schelling distanced.

Honore and Cerny manage to push clear of Bernard in the final kilometre of the climb, but the Frenchman is battling to stay in touch and he looks as though he will regain contact with them over the other side. 

-28km

Further down the road, Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) has attacked from the peloton but he surely won't get too far alone given the pace behind him.

-27km

-22km

-21km

 

Aranburu and Fraile have a lead of about 15 seconds over the peloton as they come off the descent and the road flattens out. There are plenty of twists and turns - and dips and rises - on this run-in, and it remains to be seen if any one team will be able or willing to take command of the peloton to try to set up a group sprint.

-19km

-17km

Israel Start-Up Nation and BikeExchange have taken up the pace-making duties in the peloton once again but it might be too late. They are now 1:35 down on the leaders Honore, Cerny and Bernard.

-15km

Euskaltel-Euskadi are also contributing to the chase once again, but the trio out in front are combining well and still riding strongly.

-12km

Israel Start-Up Nation, BikeExchange, Euskaltel-Euskadi and Caja Rural lead the peloton, but no sign as yet of EF Education-Nippo, who were prominent in organising the chase earlier in the stage. 

-10km

-9km

EF Education-Nippo have rejoined the pursuit at the head of the peloton, 1:13 down on the trio of leaders and 10 seconds or so behind the Astana pair of Aranburu and Fraile.

-7km

-6.5km

-6km

-5km

-4.7km

-4km

-3km

-2km

-1.5km

-1km

Honore and Cerny have time to shake hands and bump fists as they make their way towards the finish line together. 

Mikkel Honoré (Deceuninck-QuickStep) wins stage 5 of Itzulia Basque Country ahead of his teammate Josef Cerny.

Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo) holds on for third at 16 seconds. 

Daryl Impey (Israel Start-Up Nation) wins the sprint for fourth at 29 seconds.

Result

The Deceuninck-QuickStep pair of Honore and Cerny didn't contest the sprint, with the Czech leaving the honour of stage victory to his teammate. 

General classification

Mikkel Honoré speaks after his second victory of 2021. The Dane already won the final stage of the Settimana Coppi e Bartali in Forlì, where he placed second overall behind his fellow countryman Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma): “Cerny deserved to be here on the podium too, but unfortunately he can’t. We raced like it was a one-day race, we wanted to go in the breakaway, and we succeeded in that. Then we kept a high pace the whole race and we got away on the last climb. I’m for sure very happy with this win. It’s super special, especially the way we did it. That makes it an even more important victory for me.”

ONDARROA SPAIN APRIL 09 Julien Bernard of France and Team Trek Segafredo during the 60th ItzuliaVuelta Ciclista Pais Vasco 2021 Stage 5 a 1602km stage from Hondarribia to Ondarroa Breakaway itzulia ehitzulia on April 09 2021 in Ondarroa Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

Julien Bernard did well to respond to the Deceuninck-QuickStep pairing over the top of the final climb but he was unable follow their one-two attack in the finale and had to settle for third. (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Itzulia Basque Country 2021 60th Edition 5th stage Hondarribia Ondarroa 1602 km 09042021 Tadej Pogacar SLO UAE Team Emirates Brandon McNulty USA UAE Team Emirates photo Luis Angel GomezBettiniPhoto2021

Brandon McNulty retains the overall lead ahead of Saturday's final stage. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

ONDARROA SPAIN APRIL 09 Podium Mikkel Honore of Denmark and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Celebration during the 60th ItzuliaVuelta Ciclista Pais Vasco 2021 Stage 5 a 1602km stage from Hondarribia to Ondarroa itzulia ehitzulia on April 09 2021 in Ondarroa Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

ONDARROA SPAIN APRIL 09 Podium Brandon Mcnulty of United States and UAE Team Emirates Yellow Leader Jersey Celebration during the 60th ItzuliaVuelta Ciclista Pais Vasco 2021 Stage 5 a 1602km stage from Hondarribia to Ondarroa Mask Covid Safety Measures itzulia ehitzulia on April 09 2021 in Ondarroa Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

ONDARROA SPAIN APRIL 09 Podium Primoz Roglic of Slovenia and Team Jumbo Visma Green Points Jersey Celebration during the 60th ItzuliaVuelta Ciclista Pais Vasco 2021 Stage 5 a 1602km stage from Hondarribia to Ondarroa Mask Covid Safety Measures itzulia ehitzulia on April 09 2021 in Ondarroa Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Brandon McNulty retains his lead of 23 seconds over Primoz Roglic ahead of Saturday's tough final stage, with Jonas Vingegaard a further 5 seconds back in third and Tadej Pogacar still very much in the hunt in 5th place at 43 seconds.

General classification

Thanks for following our live coverage on Cyclingnews this afternoon from Iztulia Basque Country. A full report, results and pictures from today's stage are available here, and we'll be back with coverage of tomorrow's finale.

ONDARROA SPAIN APRIL 09 Arrival Josef Cerny of Czech Republic Mikkel Honor of Denmark and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Celebration during the 60th ItzuliaVuelta Ciclista Pais Vasco 2021 Stage 5 a 1602km stage from Hondarribia to Ondarroa Breakaway itzulia ehitzulia on April 09 2021 in Ondarroa Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

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