Live coverage of stage 5 of the Tour of the Basque Country
Hello there and welcome back to the Cyclingnews live race centre for coverage of stage 5 of the Tour of the Basque Country, running 150 kilometres from Arrigorriaga to Arrate.
It's the penultimate stage and the first of two decisive days in the battle for the general classification, with two first-category climbs in the final 50km.
90km remaining from 149km
As we pick up the action, the riders have just come to the top of Bedarona, the third of the seven climbs on the menu today. There is no breakaway to speak of, after a fast and unsettled start to proceedings.
Here's the stage profile
Four riders have attacked over the top of the climb and hold a slim advantage over the rest of the field. They are:
Ruben Fernandez (Movistar)
Mikael Cherel (AG2R La Mondiale)
Alessandro De Marchi (CCC Team)
Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ)
De Marchi, who was in the break yesterday, has been out for mountains points today. He has claimed the maximum at each climb so far.
82km remaining from 149km
Cherel has been dropped from that lead group, leaving three out front. The gap back to the rest is just 20 seconds at the moment.
Earlier on we had a four-man breakaway (Monfort, King, Stetina, Saenz) but they were caught just before the summit of the first climb. A little later a group of 20 briefly went clear, but that didn't last too long. There have been plenty of attacks and counter-attacks but nothing has stuck just yet.
80km remaining from 149km
And this latest attempt with De Marchi, Molard, and Fernandez doesn't seem to be sticking either. Decueninck-QuickStep, riding for Enric Mas, are working on the front of the bunch.
78km remaining from 149km
The trio are caught. All together again.
This has been Max Schachmann's race so far. The German has won three of the four stages, and placed 6th on the other one. Extraordinary stuff. Here's how he completed the hattrick yesterday. Report, results, photos - the usual - in the link below.
Tour of the Basque Country: Schachmann wins another on stage 4
And here's how things stand on GC after yesterday and ahead of the crucial action to come shortly.
1 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 12:38:16
2 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:51
3 Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:52
4 Daniel Martinez (Col) EF Education First 0:01:07
5 Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:08
6 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:10
7 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:01:24
8 Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:30
9 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:35
10 Sergio Henao (Col) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:41
67km remaining from 149km
QuickStep lead the peloton as they approach the fourth climb of the day. It's another third-category ascent, to Arribinieta.
The peloton has split in two on the approach.
It doesn't look like many - if any - big names have been caught out in the second peloton. Sky's Diego Rosa is on the front there.
The riders are on the climb and despite being a short one, it's really starting to bite.
QuickStep's leader takes flight as the road narrows through the trees. This is a bold move, some 64km from the line. He started the day 26th overall at 2:40.
Astana are leading the chase behind now.
It's splitting up on these steep narrow roads. A group of 20 have emerged behind Mas. Schachmann is in there.
Mas crests the climb with a lead of 13 seconds. Behind him that chase group has splintered.
Mas is caught as Astana shut it down on the descent.
Mas leads a group of 15 down the descent. Three more are just behind.
Tsgabu Gramy has crashed dramatically and been sent over a fence. He's back on his feet.
Schachmann is present and correct up front and comes through to pile on the pace.
58km remaining from 149km
The road flattens out as they hit the valley. The Izua climb will begin with around 50km to go.
Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) and Gregor Muhlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) have clipped off the front of that lead group.
Muhlberger, teammate of overall leader Schachmann, is not working in that duo.
Dani Martinez (EF) is in that front group. We'll bring you the rest of the names shortly.
54km remaining from 149km
More attacks come from that group of favourites now. Valentin Madouas (FDJ) has taken a flyer.
Just prior to that a handful of riders had come back to that group, to make it around 25.
Sanchez and Muhlberger have built a lead of 35 seconds. Neither is a real threat on GC.
The Izua climb is looming. It's a beast, with an average gradient of 13% and stretches in the 20's.
Madouas is shut down.
There's a third group on the road, with around 15 riders in. No time gap for now.
51km remaining from 149km
Sanchez and Muhlberger now have a lead of a minute.
The favourites group has split, with eight riders slipping clear.
The eight riders behind Sanchez and Muhlberger are:
Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe)
Enric Mas (Deceuninck-QuickStep)
Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ)
Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ)
Carlos Quintero (Manzana Postobon)
Sergio Henao (UAE Team Emirates)
Gorka Izagirre (Astana)
Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar)
Behind them, the rest of that group of favourites has been joined by that other group of 15 I mentioned earlier.
44km remaining from 149km
So, Sanchez and Muhlberger lead those eight riders by 1:02, with the reduced peloton a further 15 seconds back.
That group of eight is caught as they turn towards the climb.
The climb begins and Bora hit the front of the reduced peloton.
The gradients immediately begin to bite. This is a short climb, at just under 4km, but it's brutally steep.
Mas attacks again. He was named as 'the next Contador' after all.
Mas sits back down and is reabsorbed back into the group.
Schachmann is holding on for now but is slipping back
Schachmann in real trouble now.
Still over 3km to the summit and the race leader is losing his grip.
That reduced peloton is thinning out once more.
Mas springs out of the saddle and raises the pace once more. Around 15 riders with him.
Sanchez has dropped Muhlberger and is going it alone.
Gorka Izaguirre comes through with Ion on his wheel.
Schachmann comes back!
The race leader is managing his effort and is hanging just off the back of this group of favourites.
Still 2.5km to the summit. Schachmann is digging in here. He's off the back of this group but isn't really dropped as it stands.
Still Gorka leads it for Ion. Mas just behind.
Muhlberger is caught by that group. He'll assist Schachmann now.
Astana looking strong here. They have Sanchez up the road, then the Izaguirre brothers in command of this GC group. They also have Fuglsang there.
41km remaining from 149km
Sanchez' lead is down to 29 seconds, as his teammates effectively chase him down in their bid to put Schachmann into the red. 1.6km to the top.
Schachmann is still not on the wheel of the back of this group of favourites but he's not losing any ground. The slipstream counts for nothing on gradients that consistently near 20%.
The fanatic Basque crowds are out in force on this climb. Among the best in the world.
Ion Izaguirre attacks!
The Spaniard, third overall at 52 seconds, springs clear on a more gentle section.
The group strings out and Schachmann loses a few metres...
40km remaining from 149km
Izaguirre's acceleration brings them over to Sanchez.
39km remaining from 149km
That's the top of the climb. Schachmann is distanced but not by much.
A 10km descent coming up now. Schachmann works his way back on.
38km remaining from 149km
16 riders left out front.
Schachmann makes his way through to the front of the lead group, reasserting his authority.
A few of the riders dropped towards the top of that climb, including Hugh Carthy, have made their way back on. So we have around 20 out front.
Sam Oomen did not start today, adding to a long list of abandons from this race. He was unwell and, after Wilco Kelderman has ruled out of the Giro through illness, Sunweb are considering changing Oomen's plans and sending him to Italy to support Tom Dumoulin. More on that here.
The road levels out and Sanchez is back at it, attacking with Emmanuel Buchmann - another member of this strong Bora team. Sergio Henao is trying to follow.
A big lull in the group behind, but now we have some counter attacks.
29km remaining from 149km
It's been a hugely chaotic day of racing and still there's no organisation as the group of favourites splits under these random attacks.
Madouas has again set off in pursuit of the leaders.
Madouas reaches them and breezes past them, as they were in something of a lull themselves. Sanchez and Buchmann weren't really working there.
Once again the group of favourites has swelled following the selection on Izua.
Next up, the third-category ascent of Trabakua.
Bora take command of the main group now, but they're not exactly pushing on.
Buchmann is sixth overall at 1:10, so Bora can play on that.
26km remaining from 149km
And so it's left to Astana to take it back up. Once again it's Gorka, with Ion in the wheel.
Buchmann, Henao, Madouas, and Sanchez take advantage of the lull behind and have built a lead of 57 seconds.
It looks like Sanchez has been called back by Astana.
Sanchez doesn't look too happy but Astana need him to chase as Bora have piled the pressure on nicely with Buchmann. Sanchez wasn't a danger man on GC so has no tactical function up in the break, apart from his own interests of winning the stage.
24km remaining from 149km
The three leaders - Buchmann, Henao, Madouas - are coming to the bottom of the penultimate climb.
Trabakua in numbers
Sanchez slots in behind Gorka Izaguirre at the front of the main group, which now contains some 30 riders.
For the most part, this is a steady, big-ring climb on a nice wide road.
22km remaining from 149km
3km to the top and the gap is 40 seconds between the three leaders and the main group.
The German, sixth overall, has left Henao and Madouas for dead.
Buchmann has decided he didn't want to be with Henao and Madouas. Both, however, have teammates in the group behind. Henao in particular, with Martin and Pogacar back there.
Buchmann is now 1:17 ahead of the main group with his teammate Schachmann, making him the provisional overall leader.
20km remaining from 149km
Buchmann hits the top of the climb alone.
18km remaining from 149km
Buchmann is flying down this descent at 75km/h, tucked on his top tube. His lead grows to 1:30.
Henao and Madouas are in between at 55 seconds
Astana are still on the front of the main group of favourites as the descent continues.
16km remaining from 149km
The road flattens out and now kicks up again. A couple of bumps and the it's down to the foot of the final climb.
Gorka Izaguirre sprints out of the saddle as the main group reaches the incline. Sanchez is done for the day and slips back.
Muhlberger is also done.
14km remaining from 149km
Gorka leads the charge but Buchmann is still gaining time. 1:40 now. This is some ride. A long way to go, though.
No big absentees from the main group, which is starting to thin out again now, with riders like Skujins losing contact.
Henao and Madouas are slipping back. They're 1:05 down on Buchmann now.
12km remaining from 149km
Buchmann is back on the flatter roads and folds his arms over his bars. This is where his advantage is most precarious, but he's still pulling away. 1:50 now!
That's 1:50 over the main group of favourites, which includes his teammate and overall leader Schachmann. Henao and Madouas are still in between but won't be for long.
Just under 30 riders left in that group now ahead of the final climb.
10km remaining from 149km
Buchmann begins the descent into town and is back on his top tube. 1:55 now...
A reminder of the profile. One big climb to come.
8km remaining from 149km
The climb of Usartza will begin with just over 5km to go. Buchmann is just riding through town now to the foot of it. He's giving it everything.
Henao and Madouas are caught.
Still Astana lead, but will other teams help take it up now?
Movistar do so. Landa is in there and looked strong on the previous climb.
6km remaining from 149km
Here we go!
Buchmann hits the final climb with a lead of two minutes.
This is what they face
It's another steep one, basically.
Fuglsang takes it up and accelerates as the main group hits the lower slopes.
Gorka Izaguirre grinds to a near standstill after all his efforts.
Izaguirre responds. Martinez too.
Those three have a gap. Fuglsang leads them behind.
Schachmann loses contact!
The race leader will pace himself like last time but this time it could be much more difficult as the climbers like Landa give it their all.
5km remaining from 149km
3km to the summit and Buchmann's lead is down to 1:45
This does indeed look rather more serious for Schachmann. He's 20 seconds behind the rest of the GC guys already.
Fuglsang has attacked from the GC group after that Landa move came to nothing.
Landa is climbing with Izaguirre and Yates as they hunt down Fuglsang. The main group has exploded now.
Buchmann is digging in, still not looking like he's suffering too much. He still has 1:41 in hand, 2.2km from the top.
Yates accelerates and reaches Fuglsang, dropping Landa in the process. Izaguirre is still there.
Dan Martin is just a little further behind.
Schachmann is limiting the damage. 25 seconds is his gap to the Izaguirre/Yates/Fuglsang group.
Landa has been definitively dropped from the Izaguirre/Yates/Fuglsang trio.
Schachmann is pacing himself and limiting his losses, with Mollema in the wheel.
Buchmann still has 1:41 in hand with 1200 metres to go. He's heading for the stage win and the overall lead.
If the crowds on the last climb were impressive, this is something else. it's like Alpe d'Huez on there, with the crowds parting to let Buchmann through.
Fuglsang is leading the chase with Izaguirre in the wheel. Yates there too.
2km remaining from 149km
Fuglsang is starting to make inroads now. Buchmann's lead is cut to 1:30 as he nears the summit.
Buchmann is coming towards the top of the climb and now he's suffering. His head is bobbing but he's getting all the support from the crowds.
1:22 now for Buchmann over the chasing trio. Schachmann is 2:17 down.
Buchmann crests the climb and prepares to drop down into Arrate to cap a brilliant performance.
This has been quality from Buchmann and Bora. What a race they're having.
Fuglsang, Yates, and Izaguirre crest the climb, 1:17 in arrears.
Buchmann heads into the final kilometre.
Buchmann enters the barriers
And raises his arm as he crosses the line at speed. What a win.
Emmanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) wins stage 5 of the Tour of the Basque Country.
Fuglsang continue to drag Izaguirre and Yates to the line.
Shcachmann has caught a group containing Mas, Martinez, and his teammate Konrad.
Izaguirre takes second place - and so six bonus seconds - with Yates third (four bonus seconds). They finish 1:07 down on Buchmann.
Pogacar and Henao are next across the line.
Landa comes home alone now in seventh, 1:49 down.
And here comes the Schachmann group. The race leader finishes 2:03 down.
So Buchmann moves into the overall lead, and Schachmann does enough to stay on the provisional podium, I believe. Izaguirre will be second but nearly a minute down on Buchmann.
And here come the results just now...
Top 10 on stage 5
1 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 3:44:14
2 Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:01:08
3 Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott
4 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
5 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:24
6 Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates
7 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:50
8 Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 0:02:04
9 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
10 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
General classification after stage 5
1 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 16:23:30
2 Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:54
3 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:04
4 Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:32
5 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
6 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:55
7 Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 0:01:56
8 Daniel Martínez (Col) EF Education First 0:02:11
9 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 0:02:25
10 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
The Schachmann show may be over but Bora have won four of the five stages here. Incredible.
And "incredible" is exactly the word Buchmann reaches for in his winner's flash interview.
"It's already the fourth stage win for us and, on the queen stage, and now with the leader's jersey, it's really cool," says the German.
"We will try everything tomorrow to defend the jersey. We have a really strong team here - maybe the strongest team in the race. Tomorrow will be another really hard day, everyone else will try and win this race, so it won't be easy. But we have a strong team, and I'm optimistic."
Here's our report page
Can Buchmann be beaten? One stage to go, and it's certainly not a flat final-day procession/sprint. This is what's on the agenda...
We'll be back here tomorrow with live coverage of that final stage. Hope you'll join us again. Bye.
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