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Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2017: Stage 5


Welcome to our coverage of stage 5 of the Volta a Catalunya. Yesterday was one for the sprinters but today it is the GC contenders with a summit finish at Totosa. It is still all to play for so we can expect some fireworks. 

There has been plenty of action already but after 55km, there is no breakaway. That is not for want of trying though, with many riders trying their luck off the front. 

The riders are on the first of the two categorised climbs today, the Col de Fatxes. Look above for today's profile and you can see that aside from an uncategorised lump, it is a relatively flat run from this climb to the second and final one with 22km to go. 

Just over a minute separates the top 10 in the overall classification. Will Tejay van Garderen be able to hold onto his lead today?

110km remaining from 182km

Cyril Gautier, Robert Gesink and Dario Cataldo are among the 15 riders off the front. We'll bring you a full list as soon as we can. 

 The 15 riders have an quickly increasing advantage on the peloton. The latest gap has them four minutes ahead. 

Correction, it is actually 14 riders in that group. The riders that made it away are: Cyril Gautier (AG2R La Mondiale), Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Dario Cataldo (Astana), Daniel Navarro (Cofidis), Robert Kisterlovski (Katusha-Alpecin), Damien Howson (Orica-Scott), Laurens de Plus (Quick-Step Floors), Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac), Tsgabu Grmay (Bahrain-Merida), Antonio Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Valerio Conti (Team UAE Emirates), Hector Saez (Caja Rural), Aldemar Reyes (Manzana Postobon), Nick van der Lijk (Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij).

There was a number of non-starters in today's stage. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) crashed heavily during yesterday's stage and bruised his ribs. Former leader, Ben Hermans has also abandoned after falling ill. Joining them on the journey home are Diego Rosa (Sky), Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar), Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) and Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis). Nathan Haas has also abandoned during the stage. 

The gap is still climbing but not with quite the same speed as it was previously. The riders up front have 4:30 on the peloton now. 

Guillaume Levarlet of Wanty Group Gobert is the latest rider to climb off as the gap to the escapees rises to 4:45. 

It has been a fast and furious start to the day and after two hours, the average speed is a zippy 44.5kph. 

Rafa Valls of the Lotto Soudal team is also up in the breakaway so there we have it, there are 15 riders in there after all. 

An interesting side story to today's action will be the growing tension between Movistar and BMC. After the TTT polemica, JJ Rojas tweeted a video of van Garderen removing his helmet, saying that "rules are for everyone". You can read the full story here

Don't forget, we also have live coverage of E3 Harelbeke today with Stephen Farrand. You can follow that right here.

Dario Cataldo is the best placed of the 15 escapees in the overall classification. He started the day at 3:37 behind the race leader, which means that as the advantage grows out to 5:20 he is the virtual leader. 

The riders are now over that little uncategorised lump and through the intermediate sprint. Saez took the points ahead of Rolland and Navarro. 

68km remaining from 182km

Sky and Trek are also doing work on the front. Their first priority is to make sure that Cataldo does not get too much time, their second will be to put BMC to the sword. Both teams have two riders in the top 10. Team Sky has Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome handily placed while Alberto Contador and Jarlinson Pantano are the ones performing for Trek-Segafredo. 

It will be interesting to see how the two teams play their cards. Pantano has been doing a supreme job for Trek and Contador this season and he's likely to turn himself inside out for the Spaniard and see where he finishes at the end of the day. Thomas is the named leader for Team Sky but Froome is in form so we'll have to see what they do. 

58km remaining from 182km

The peloton is pushing hard through this windy section and riders are being dropped left right and centre. The peloton is now in four distinct groups. 

It's not yet clear if any of the big names have missed out. It seems like Trek and Sky knew that this was coming and this is why they jumped on the front when they did. Let's see how this shakes out. 

Things are beginning to calm down a touch and riders are making their way back into the peloton. 

Pierre Rolland takes the points at the second intermediate sprint ahead of Cataldo and then Saez. Rolland should be in the sprint jersey at the end of the day. There's a sentence I never thought I'd write. 

Stand down. Apologies, my calculations were wrong and Diego Rubio will keep his lead in the sprint classification. 

46km remaining from 182km

Team Sky is the one pushing the pace. They want to put van Garderen under pressure. With Ben Hermans lost from the squad overnight, the American may find himself a little more isolated later. He's still got Samuel Sanchez.

Reports now of a crash coming through. It seems that Froome and Majka were involved. No word on their condition just yet.

It doesn't appear to be too bad for Froome and Majka. They're back in the peloton after their brief meeting with the asphalt. 

Just 1:15 for the escapees now. Their time out front is numbered and it looks like we'll have a showdown for the stage win and the overall between the big race favourites. 

35km remaining from 182km

The expectation is that Alberto Contador will spice things up on the climb but he said after yesterday's stage that the onus shouldn't be on him to attack

The organisers have corrected themselves and put Pierre Rolland at the top of the sprint standings. I'm glad that I haven't totally forgotten all of my maths A levels. 

A lovely shot of the peloton as they hunt down the breakaway. 

The break has been brought back with 32km to go. Let the games begin!

Sky no longer on the front, it is Movistar and Trek-Segafredo controlling things as we approach the final climb. BMC Racing a little further back in the group.  

Bad news for Team Sky as Mikel Nieve suffers a puncture at a really bad moment. 

This was the breakaway not long before they were reeled back in. 

Movistar really hammering it on the front of the peloton as they wind their way through Tortosa. The climb is about to begin. 

The roads up to the climb are pretty narrow and the peloton is almost single file at times. 

The road starts to rise and BMC is finally making an appearance. They've been happy to hide a bit further back in the bunch for a lot of today. CCC Sprandi Polkowice and Astana are also trying to muscle their way forward. 

Arthur Vichot is also up there for FDJ. He's unlikely to stay there for very long but he's been playing the team role very well this week. 

The Lo Port climb is a tricky twisting ascent and it looks grey and cold up near the top. LottoNL-Jumbo make an appearance on the front. 

There have been a couple of attempts to get off the front. Jordi Simon was one of those but he was quickly brought back. 

11km remaining from 182km

Three riders have a small gap on the peloton but they're not getting very far. 

We bring you news of another abandon. Alex Edmondson has called it a day. 

Jetse Bol and Magno Prado Nazaret have gone on the attack. Bol swoops past Pradio Nazaret with relative ease.

The peloton is hot on their heels though and they'll have to try a lot harder if they want to truly break free. 

8km remaining from 182km

Geraint Thomas is the penultimate rider in that Sky train and he has Chris Froome on his wheel. Froome crashed earlier but doesn't look any worse for it. 

An overhead shot of the peloton shows that there are perhaps 30 riders left in this increasingly select group. 

7km remaining from 182km

Sky moves off the front and Trek-Segafredo jumps to the front. Alberto Contador is the third of three riders up there. 

It is Bauke Mollema on the front with Jarlinson Pantano in his wheel. This is a seriously strong Trek group at the front. 

Team Sky isn't happy with the pace that Trek is setting and Landa moves to the front. He's not impressed in Catalunya this week and he'll want a strong showing here with the Giro d'Italia not that far away. 

The group continues to whittle down and it Mollema has disappeared from the wheel of Landa. Just Pantano and Contador left for Trek. Team Sky with three riders, including Landa. 

Landa is done for the day and Movistar is on the front now. 

The riders pass under the 4km to go and Contador moves out of the bunch briefly to assess the situation. Is he going to attack soon?

Big splits now further back as Pantano takes up the pace setting. This is brutal. 

Van Garderen has been dropped. Valverde, Contador, Thomas and Froome are all up there as Contador attacks. 

Froome trying to chase down Contador as Thomas moves to the back of the group. 

It looks like Thomas has been dropped and now Valverde attacks. 

4km remaining from 182km

Froome catches Contador and Valverde. Soler still there and he starts setting the pace for his team leader. 

Adam Yates has now made contact with this elite group. 

A hiatus in hostilities briefly but Contador is turning up the wick. 

Van Gardderen struggling further down the climb. He can see another group of chasers ahead of him. No time checks just yet. 

This is an interesting battle because these leaders also need to think about putting time into van Garderen. They have the benefit of time bonuses at the finish. 

Contador keeps pushing the pace but Soler moves up and tries to slow things down a little bit.

Van Garderen finds Sanchez, who is helping him up the climb now. Sanchez is second in the GC so how long before BMC let him do his own thing?

2km remaining from 182km

Soler attacks and Contador and Valverde follow him. 

Froome isn't able to react immediately but that is his style. He digs in and grinds his way across the gap. He's got the leaders in his sight. 

Soler pulls off and Froome passes him to make contact with Contador and Valverde. 

Valverde attacks immediately and only Contador can follow him but Valverde now has a big gap. 

Valverde already has one win under his belt this week. 

1km remaining from 182km

It looks like this is Valverde's with 300 metres to go. 

How much time can he take on his rivals?

Valverde drives to the line. He takes a little moment to celebrate. 

Froome takes a small gap on Contador in the final run to the line to claim second on the day. Contador third and Soler comes over in fourth. Adam Yates fifth and Dan Martin takes sixth. Still no sign of van Garderen. 

Van Garderen still a few hundred metres out. 

Sanchez leads van Garderen over the line some 1:49 after Valverde. Pantano and Mollema were also in that group. 

If my calculations are correct then Valverde is the new leader. Three days after being the leader for only a few hours after the team time trial. 

Valverde and his Movistar team will feel vindicated after today's result. The next two days will be able defence over attack. 

Valverde took 13 seconds on Froome and Contador but it's that near two-minute gap to van Garderen that is crucial. 

Valverde now leads the overal standings by 21 seconds over Froome with Contador 47 seconds down. Soler has moved himself into fourth place after that really strong ride. 

This is how things ended today. 

This is how it looks at the top of the general classification after today's stage. 

In other news. There are rumours that Nairo Quintana has broken his tibia in a training crash today. We've got someone trying to get confirmation of this and we'll let you know as soon as we do. 

Panic over. Nairo Qiuntana is fine. The rumours of his injury are not true, thankfully. The team has confirmed that he is safe and healthy. 

Over in Belgium, it looks like Greg Van Avermaet has beaten Philippe Gilbert in a photo finish. 

Want to remind yourself of today's action? You can find our report and results here, with photos to come soon. 

That is it from us today. We will have live coverage of tomorrow's stage. Will anyone be able to knock Valverde off his perch?

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