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Vuelta a España 2013: Stage 5


Stage 5 of the Vuelta a España, from 174.3km from Sober to Lago de Sanabria.


119km remaining from 174km

Of the five escapees, the best-placed rider on general classification is Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) but he lies over 20 minutes down in 106th place overall and so the Astana team of overall leader Vincenzo Nibali have little motivation to chase for now.

112km remaining from 174km

The stage honours fell to Dani Moreno (Katusha) yesterday, and a split in the finale  saw the red jersey change hands, as Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) lost out and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) regained the overall lead. The overall picture looked like this as the peloton awoke bleary-eyed in Sober this morning:

The split in the peloton in the finale caught all and sundry by surprise yesterday, not least Vincenzo Nibali. On crossing the line, Nibali told reporters on crossing the line that "nothing happened today really" and beat a hasty retreat to the Astana team bus, some four kilometres away, only to be

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There is no summit finish today - for once - and there are just two category 3 climbs on the profile, but the jury was out as to whether stage 5 was one for the sprinters or not. After the descent of the Covelo, the road continues to climb steadily through Gudiña and towards the Alto de Padornelo, and there is barely a metre of flat on the run-in to the finish.

So far, none of the sprinters' teams have opted to put their shoulders to the wheel, and so the break is continuing to chug away out in front with an advantage in excess of ten minutes. If that situation proceeds much longer, then our leading quintet can start to harbour genuine ambitions of fighting out the stage win amongst themselves.

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) was sober in his assessment of the possibilities of a break succeeding on the road to Lago de Sanabria. The world champion reckons it's a numbers game, and if his calculations are right, then it's bad news for Anacona, Edet et al. “With more than seven riders, the breakaway has a high chance of succeeding," he said.

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It will be interesting to see if anyone steps forward to help Garmin's pace-making at the head of the bunch as there is a dearth of sprinters at this year's Vuelta. Given the 11 summit finishes on the parcours, few teams even bothered to select a fast man, so there aren't many teams keen to ride for the bunch sprint. One possible ally of circumstance might be Omega Pharma-QuickStep, given that Gianni Meersman has a penchant for winning from large groups at the end of rolling days of racing.

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Orica-GreenEdge and Garmin-Sharp continue to set the pace at the head of the peloton, and the break's lead has been reduced to 8:22. The Australian squad are without Wesely Sulzberger, incidentally. He was forced out of the race with a broken collarbone after crashing yesterday.

Barring any late splits, it seems unlikely that there will be any real change in the race for the red jersey this afternoon, even though Astana manager Giuseppe Martinelli has made no secret of his disregard for holding the overall lead this early in the Vuelta, “If RadioShack wants the red jersey back, I’m happy to give it back to them."

Second on the stage yesterday, Horner's RadioShack teammate Fabian Cancellara is also looking further down the line, to the world championships in Florence. While the Swiss rider was coy about his precise aims in Tuscany when he spoke to Alasdair Fotheringham, one senses that the road race will be his priority this time around.

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Up front, the five leaders are maintaining their collaboration but the increasingly rugged terrain is perhaps just beginning to tell. Their lead has fallen to 7:14.

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The five escapees are now ten kilometres from the base of the day's second climb, the category 3 Alto de Padornelo, which itself climbs for 11km, albeit at the rather benign average gradient of 2.6%.

52km remaining from 174km

50km remaining from 174km

Winner Anacona sits up and stretches briefly as if in preparation for the climb that he and his breakaway companions will soon face. 5:14 down the road, Alex Howes is leading the Garmin-Sharp troupe at the head of the peloton.

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Antonio Piedra (Caja Rural) hits the front as the five escapees start the climb. A few leaden drops of rain are beginning to fall, and if the skies open in earnest, the descent could be treacherous in the extreme.

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The gradient is very gentle on this climb and the five leaders are continuing to ride through and off at a very smooth rhythm. If they can hit the top of the climb with 3:30 or so in hand on the bunch, they might just stay clear.

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As if on queue, Omega Pharma have sensed the danger and - finally - put a man on the front of the bunch to help Garmin and GreenEdge with the pursuit. In Gianni Meersman, Omega Pharma-QuickStep have a potential winner of today's stage and it's perhaps surprising that they didn't join the chase a little sooner.

34km remaining from 174km

Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Sharp) strains for every last ounce of energy as he puts in a mammoth turn on the front of the bunch, before swining over for Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).

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The peloton crests the summit of the climb 3:09 down on the breakaway. The stage is very delicately poised between the break and the chasers.

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The peloton is strung out in one long line and is now making huge inroads into the break's lead. The five escapees are continuing to maintain a brisk tempo but it seems that there is little to be done against the weight of the pursuit behind. The gap is down to 1:35.

15km remaining from 174km

Orica-GreenEdge, Omega Pharma-QuickStep and Garmin-Sharp are continuing to dictate terms and conditions in the main peloton, with Matthews, Meersman and Farrar in mind.

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As the road begins to climb, Saxo-Tinkoff and Sky begin to force their way towards the front - to protect their GC men or to try and set up the stage win?

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Van De Walle is almost within touching distance of Courteille, but the Frenchman is showing no interest in waiting for the veteran Lotto-Belisol man.

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Van De Walle makes contact with Courteille, takes a couple of hundred metres to recover, and then comes through to the front. Edet, Anacona and Piedra have all been swept up by the bunch.

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Michael Matthews and Gianni Meersman sweep to the front to contest the sprint....

Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) wins stage 5 of the Vuelta a Espana.

Matthews hit the front and held off the challenge of Maximiliano RIcheze and Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), with Nikias Arndt (Argos-Shimano) in fourth.

Meersman was arguably slightly impeded by Richeze in the sprint, but there was no arguing with Michael Matthews' victory. The Australian was good value for his sprint win, as indeed, was his Orica-GreenEdge team, which chased for much of the afternoon on his behalf.


Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) finished safely in the main peloton, and the Sicilian will retain the red jersey tonight, 3 seconds ahead of Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) and 8 ahead of Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff).

General classification after stage 5:

1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 18:43:52
2 Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard 0:00:03
3 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:08
4 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack Leopard 0:00:16
5 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:21
6 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) RadioShack Leopard 0:00:26
7 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:00:28
8 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha 0:00:31
9 Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:38
10 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:42

Thanks for joining us for today's Vuelta coverage. A full report, results and pictures will follow here, and we'll be back with more live coverage tomorrow. In the meantime, stay tuned to Cyclingnews for all of the news and reaction from Spain.

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