Welcome to the final stage of Valenciana! It is pouring down rain and supposed to stay that way all day.
@MitcheltonSCOTT Sun, 4th Feb 2018 11:49:57
Yesterday's Queen Stage was a dramatic one, with race leader Alejandro Valverde putting his stamp on things once again. He proved to be the best on the final climb, winning his second stage and cementing his overall lead.
If Valverede wins this race, as expected, it will be his second time to take the overall title. He won it before in 2004,14 years ago!
The race has now officially started! 135 km to go!
The finale today may be a tricky one, especially if the rain keeps up. There is a long straightaway, and then four sharp turns before another short shoot-in to the finish line. With an expected bunch sprint. We hope for the best!
Right from the start the attacks have started. Six riders are trying to get away.
Here is the GC going into today’s final stage:
1 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 13:16:23
2 Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) 0:14
3 Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) 0:26
4 Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) 0:37
5 Jesus Hernandez (Cofidis) 0:48
123km remaining from 135km
With 12 km down, we have six riders with a 30 second gap: Kwiatkowski (SKY), Küng (BMC), Novak (TBM), Taaramae (TDE), Sprengers (SVB); and Tratnik (CCC)
The mountain jersey will presumably be won by Preben Van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen) with 27 points, who is now ahead of Cristian Rodriguez (Caja Rural) 21 points, and Alejandro Valverde, 20 points.
115km remaining from 135km
Looks like this is our group of the day. After 20 km, they now have a one-minute lead!
Best young rider is Kilian Frankiny (BMC), and Astana tops the team ranking.
Who would have thought that Valverde could come back so strong after shattering his kneecap in the first stage of the Tour de France last July? Yet here he is, on the verge of winning this race. "This win feels really great," he said after yesterday's stage win.
The gap is growing, slowly but steadily. After 32 km it is 1:23. EF Education First and Lotto-Jumbo are leading the chase.
The weather is having its fun with cycling today. Rain here in Spain, and snow adding to the mud in Valkenburg for the 'cross World Championships. Never a dull moment......
We have one final ranked climb in the race today. The Cat. 2 Oronet comes at 99.9 km.
95km remaining from 135km
The group is away, but not building up their lead. After 40 km it is now 1:15.
This is not the only race today. Earlier we had the Jayco Herald Sun Tour and the Etoile des Besseges winds up today with a short ITT.
Plus the World 'cross championships are going on, with the Elite Men taking to the mud in just under an hour.
Speaking of 'cross, the U-23 men put on a great show this morning, with the honours going to Belgium's Eli Iserbyt.
Sanne Cant of Belgium won the women's title at the 'cross World championships yesterday, but it sounds like there was even more action after the race. Some of her team staff and others got into a brawl with security officers....
74km remaining from 135km
After 61 kms, the peloton has split in two parts. The gap to the lead group stays at 1:15.
On the other side of the world, Sam Crome won the final stage of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, with the overall title going to Esteban Chaves.
Looks like the field doesn't want to let this group really get away. After 77 km, the gap is down to under a minute.
The peloton had split earlier, but now is back together again, we hear.
The Chris Froome situation is a difficult one. Should he voluntarily suspend himself from racing? Read this opinion piece on the matter.
Apparently the rain has stopped, if only for the moment.
Rigo Uran is ready to open the season for EF Education First at the Oro y Paz race this week in his homeland of Colombia.
83 km in, and the gap is 53 seconds. And not only is it raining, the humidity is very high -- 88%.
39km remaining from 135km
ONly 39 km left, and the gap is nearly gone. Meavwhile, Sprengers has won the intermediate sprint, ahead of Kung and Kwiatkowski.
Tratnnick has jumped from the remains of the break group and is going up the day's climb alone.
Tratnik has 32 seconds on the MOvistar-led peloton. Sprengers, Kwiatkowski and Kung are in between.
Movistar and Astana at the head of the chasing peloton.
And Tratnik takes the mountain points, crossing the cat. 2 climb alone.
The other three chasers have now caught him, and the peloton is getting closer and closer.
Kung has taken off from the group and now has a lead on his former break mates.
Kung continue son this descent alone.
It doesn't appear to be raining at the moment, but the road is sitll wet. We hope that everyone has made it down the descent safely, and that all goes well in the complicated sprint finale.
Kung continues time trialing his way toward the finish, with the peloton unable to break into his 20 second lead.
Now a Katusha rider is heading up the field.
20 km and 20 seconds for Kung!
The sprinters' teams aren't willing to let this opportunity go by, and have cut the gap to only 10 seconds with 18 km left. We see some Lotto Jumbo up at the front.
13km remaining from 135km
Only a handful of seconds for Kung now. The peloton has him in its sights. 13 km to go.
A Sky rider attacks from the field.
The Sky rider is unable to get away, but Kung is still stubbornly hanging on to his slight gap. 10 seconds with 10km.
And that was it for Kung. It was a great effort, but he is caught with about 8 km to go. The peloton is down to some 40-50 riders now.
Astana in force at the head of the field.
Astana probably won't be going for the sprint but they want to control everything and not let anyone get away -- they need to protect their two riders who are 2d and 3d in GC.
WE have passed the three km marker. 2km now, and the sprinters can start getting into position.
Lotto Jumbo now in the lead, with those bright pink EF riders right up there too.
Jurgen Roelandts takes the win for BMC, winning it by a hair.
The finale was not as tricky as feared, although we did see Belgian champion Oliver Naessen tumble and slide away.
Danny van Poppel was the Jumbo Lotto rider who closed quickly to nearly take the win away from Roelandts.
Congratulations to Alejandro Valverde, who came back from a shattered kneecap last summer to win two stages and the overall title here.
It looks like this is Roelandts' first victory in six years!
Third today was Clement Venturini of AG2R.
Astana was successful and defended Luis Leon Sanchez' second place and Jakob Fuglsang's third place in GC.
Top 10 on today's stage:
1 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) BMC Racing Team 2:58:26
2 Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
3 Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:01
4 Nelson Andres Soto Martinez (Col) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
5 Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
6 Christophe Noppe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
7 Marco Canola (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini
8 Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
9 Jonas Koch (Ger) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
10 Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
Final general classification after stage 5
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 16:14:53
2 Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:14
3 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:00:26
4 Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:37
5 Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:00:48
6 Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:49
7 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:54
8 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:57
9 Kilian Frankiny (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:01:03
10 Amaro Antunes (Por) CCC Sprandi Polkowice 0:01:09
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