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Tour of Britain 2013: Stage 5

Stage 5 of the Tour of Britain, 177.1km from Machynlleth to Caerphilly.

 

As we pick up the action shortly after the first categorised climb of Cwm Owen, a four-man break is almost three minutes clear of the peloton. And, not surprisingly, Angel Madrazo (Movistar) is among their number.

Angel Madrazo (Movistar), Jacob Rathe (Garmin-Sharp), Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox), and Peter Williams (Team IG-Sigma Sport) slippped clear shortly after the race left the neutralised zone on a day of heavy rain in Wales.

Mercifully, the rain has eased off since, but the Tour of Britain peloton must still tackle the most rugged terrain of the race to date as they trek south through Wales this afternoon. They have already tackled the Category 1 climb of Cwm Owen and the race is now headed for Brecon Beacons national park and the category 1 climb there. For good measure, the finale features a double ascent of the category 1 Caerphilly Mountain before a quick drop to the finish in Caerphilly.

71km remaining from 177km

As was the case yesterday, Team Sky are controlling affairs at the head of the peloton, and they have pegged the leaders' advantage back to within two minutes.

King of the mountains leader Angel Madrazo mopped up the points atop Cwm Owen, by the way, and the four leaders are headed towards the second intermediate sprint at Libanus. Back in the bunch, Mathew Hayman is setting a decent tempo as the sun begins to nudge its way shyly through the dark clouds overhead.

68km remaining from 177km

Gold jersey Bradley Wiggins (Sky) looks comfortable towards the front end of the peloton, but he'll be bracing himself for further attacks from Garmin-Sharp's Dan Martin and Jack Bauer in the finale this afternoon.

The business end of the overall standings is currently as follows:

1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 16:11:36
2 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:37
3 Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling 0:00:47
4 Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin-Sharp 0:00:55
5 Alex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar Team 0:00:57
6 David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Sky Procycling 0:01:17
7 Michal Golas (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:01:18
8 Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN-Qhubeka
9 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka 0:01:21
10 Alexander Wetterhall (Swe) Team NetApp-Endura
11 Simon Yates (GBr) Great Britain 0:01:23
12 Marco Coledan (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox 0:01:26
13 Julien Vermote (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
14 Marcin Bialoblocki (Pol) Team UK Youth 0:01:30
15 Evaldas Siskevicius (Ltu) Sojasun 0:01:31
16 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:33
17 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp 0:01:38
18 Sacha Modolo (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox 0:01:39
19 Martin Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:01:41
20 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling 0:01:44

65km remaining from 177km

As the break begin the climb of Brecon Beacons, their lead has stretched back out to 3:05. Jacob Rathe (Garmin-Sharp) is the best-placed of the break on GC (25th at 2:04), making him the provisional overall leader.

As impassive of expression as ever, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) has moved up as the peloton approaches the foot of Brecon Beacons, and is pedalling very smoothly a little behind the phalanx of Sky riders at the front.

At the front of the race, Stefano Pirazzi has deposited a layer in the Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox team car, but the Giro d'Italia king of the mountains remains wrapped up against the elements, in both arm and leg warmers, in contrast to Madrazo and Rathe.

62km remaining from 177km

Madrazo and Pirazzi are locked in conversation on the way up the climb. The break's lead is 2:42 and there is no reason for their unity to fracture just yet.

61km remaining from 177km

As expected, Madrazo leads over the top of the Brecon Beacons and he pads his lead in the king of the mountains competition out to a mammoth 26 points.

The four escapees continue their smooth collaboration on the way down the mountain, with Madrazo even giving Stefano Pirazzi a long push to help keep the pace up.

55km remaining from 177km

After the descent, the race heads south through Merthyr Tydfil and tackles some rolling terrain before the grand finale on the slopes of Caerphilly Mountain. The break's advantage is now 2:42.

 

In the main peloton, Nairo Quintana remains poised with intent on Alex Dowsett's wheel, sitting just behind Wiggins.

In only his second year at WorldTour level, Quintana’s sequence of stage racing results this season has been remarkably consistent: 7th at the Ruta del Sol, 15th at Paris-Nice, 4th at the Volta a Catalunya, 1st at the Tour of the Basque Country, 2nd at the Tour de France, 1st at the Vuelta a Burgos.

46km remaining from 177km

There is a definite cohesion about the break's efforts up front, but Sky's chasing quartet of Bernhard Eisel, Josh Edmondson, David Lopez and Mathew Hayman are keeping the gap pegged at between 2:30 and 2:40. Wiggins and the second-placed Ian Stannard sit just behind them.

On yesterday's stage, Stannard make huge inroads into the break's lead when he began contributing to the chase in the final ten kilometres, and he looks set to spark into action somewhat sooner today.

Up front, Madrazo climbs out of the saddle as he leads the escapees up an uncategorised climb. In deference to appearance of the sun, which has now defiantly poked its way through the clouds, Pirazzi has rolled down his arm warmers for the short ascent.

37km remaining from 177km

Peter Williams has been dropped from the break as it speeds towards the foot of Caerphilly Mountain. Further back the road, Hayman and Eisel are stretching things out in the main peloton.

Dan Martin and Jack Bauer are carefully positioned near the front of the peloton, and Nairo Quintana is also maintaining a watching brief.

30km remaining from 177km

Madrazo, Pirazzi and Rathe retain a lead of 2:07 over the peloton, while Peter Williams has sat up in the no-man's land between the break and the bunch.

Sky are still controlling affairs at the head of the peloton, but Quintana and Dan Martin will surely test them on the way up Caerphilly Mountain.

25km remaining from 177km

Sky are beginning to wind the pace up in earnest in the main peloton, and the gap to Pirazzi, Madrazo and Rathe has been clipped down to 1:30.

Mathew Hayman is the man applying the pressure as the gap to the break continues to fall. They will reach the foot of the first ascent of Caerphilly Mountain with a little more than 14 kilometres to go, and this is where the race should truly ignite.

21km remaining from 177km

Jacob Rathe puts in a long turn on the front in a bit to add a little more urgency to proceedings out in front. The leaders can sense the peloton is closing quickly and their advantage is now under a minute.

20km remaining from 177km

We're still a few kilometres shy of the foot of Caerphilly Mountain, but Alex Dowsett has accelerated off the front of the bunch with Nairo Quintana tucked safely on his wheel.

Sky quickly bring the pair back, but Dowsett continues to pile on the pressure at the front of the bunch, with Quintana stuck limpet-like to his wheel. It's a rear statement of intent from Movistar and Quintana before the road tilts skywards in the finale.

Dowsett's powerful cameo has made further inroads into the break's lead, and the gap is down to 38 seconds.

18km remaining from 177km

The working alliance up front has dissolved. Sensing that the gap is shrinking, Stefano Pirazzi punches his way clear on a short rise, but Rathe and Madrazo claw their way back up to him.

Meanwhile, Sky have re-assumed their positions at the head of the peloton after Dowsett's show of force.

17km remaining from 177km

Up front, Rathe is the next to try and jump away, but Pirazzi and Madrazo are hanging on.

Sky have lost Eisel and Hayman thanks to Dowsett's injection of pace, and it's up to Lopez, Edmondson and Stannard to shepherd Wiggins up Caerphilly.

16km remaining from 177km

It's becoming a war of attrition up front as the leading trio take it in turns to attack one another. They are well matched, however, and so far, nobody has been able to forge away alone.

15km remaining from 177km

The bunch is just 12 seconds behind the break on the approach to Caerphilly Mountain, and the three escapees can sense that the game is up.

14km remaining from 177km

Pirazzi accelerates as the break hits the final climb. Madrazo and Rathe are immediately caught by the bunch, and Pirazzi won't survive out there much longer.

13km remaining from 177km

Quintana dances clear of the peloton on the climb and opens a small gap over the Sky-led peloton, but the gradient has yet to bite.

The peloton has fragmented on the climb of Caerphilly Mountain, and Quintana has been joined by a small group at the head of the race.

12km remaining from 177km

Quintana is joined on the front of the race by Francesco Bongiorno (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox), and the pair have opened a small gap over the fragmented peloton on the steepest section of the climb. There are huge crowds cheering them on as they grind their way towards the summit.

12km remaining from 177km

Quintana leads Bongiorno over the top of the climb, with a gap of 18 seconds over the yellow jersey group of Bradley Wiggins.

David Lopez leads the Wiggins group over the top of Caerphilly Mountain. Jack Bauer is also in there for Garmin-Sharp.

Quintana has no intention of sitting up on the descent. He puts his head down and has formed a smooth working agreement with Bongiorno.

11km remaining from 177km

The Wiggins group has reduced Quintana's gap to just ten seconds but the group itself is down to 25 or so riders. Dan Martin is in there still as is Ian Stannard.

9km remaining from 177km

David Le Lay (Sojasun) shoots out of the yellow jersey group and then catches and passes Quintana and Bongiorno on the flat approach to the second ascent of Caerphilly Mountain.

Quintana and Bongiorno have been brought to heel for now, but the Colombian will surely be tempted to have another go the next time around.

7km remaining from 177km

The reduced gold jersey is approaching the base of the second ascent of Caerphilly Mountain, 7 seconds down on Le Lay.

6km remaining from 177km

Le Lay has put up impressive resistance to hold onto this gap over the Wiggins group, but one imagines he will start to concede ground again once the road begins to climb again.

6km remaining from 177km

Le Lay begins the second and final haul up Caerphilly Mountain with 8 seconds in hand on the bunch.

Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) attacks at the foot of Caerphilly Mountain. Quintana tries to follow, but Martin has opened a decent gap.

5km remaining from 177km

Martin fires past Le Lay and is now all alone at the head of the race. Quintana leads a small chasing group behind him with Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling).

5km remaining from 177km

Martin's face is a mask of suffering as he reaches the steepest section of the climb. The Irishman is seated and setting a decent tempo, but the Quintana group appears to be closing in. Wiggins, meanwhile, is further down the climb.

5km remaining from 177km

Martin leads over the top of Caerphilly Mountain, and he is joined by Quintan just as he crests the summit. Pardilla (MTN-Qhubeka) is giving chase just behind them.

Sergio Pardilla joins Martin and Quintana at the front of the race, with a decent gap over the gold jersey group as they begin the descent.

3km remaining from 177km

Ian Stannard is hurtling down the descent at the head of the gold jersey group in a bid to close the gap for Wiggins.

2km remaining from 177km

Stannard's efforts are enough to bring Martin, Pardilla and Quintana to heel. As soon as they're brought back, Le Lay has another go but the Frenchman is quickly recaptured. A 25-man gold jersey group is now headed for the finish together.

1km remaining from 177km

There's precious little organisation to this gold jersey group as the race enters the final kilometre, but Wiggins is still safely in there and will retain his overall lead tonight.

IAM Cycling are attempting to organise a lead-out, but Sam Bennett (An Post-Chainreaction) is poised...

Sam Bennett (An Post-Chainreaction) wins stage 5 of the Tour of Britain.

Bennett led into the final corner and he held off Michal Golas (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling) to take the win.

Bennett made his introduction at senior level with a stage win as a teenager at the Ras in 2009. After a knee injury put off plans to ride as a stagiare for FDJ in 2010, Bennet joined An Post the following year and has produced a string of fine performances this season.

Result:

1 Sam Bennett (Irl) An Post-Chainreaction 4:35:28
2 Michal Golas (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
3 Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling
4 David Lelay (Fra) Sojasun
5 Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin-Sharp
6 Simon Yates (GBr) Great Britain
7 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling
8 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling
9 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling
10 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team

As a native of Carrick-on-Suir with a rapid sprint, Bennett's win bound to attract plenty of comparisons with those of Sean Kelly, the patron of his team who claimed stage wins at the Tour of Britain's forerunner, the Milk Race, in both 1975 and 1976.

General classification:

1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky
2 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky 00:00:37
3 Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling 00:00:43
 

Having ridden the Tour of Britain last year, Bennett had some prior knowledge of the finale at Caerphilly. "I pulled out this time last year, so I got to see it from the car!" he joked. "It was a pretty wet start today and I was trying to keep dry. I knew if I could just hang on up the climb, I’d recuperate quick enough for the sprint.

"Going over the top, I knew when I got in the front group, I could relax until 2k to go. I knew the three IAM guys would try something, so I got on their wheel with 1k to go. I took a bit of a gamble coming into the last corner but I got away with it."
 

Thanks for joining us for today's live coverage. We'll be back with more tomorrow on Cyclingnews, but before that, we'll have a full report, results and pictures here.

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