Live coverage of stage 5 of the Vuelta a España, 171.3 kilometres from Viveiro to Lugo.
The Vuelta peloton is on the start line in Viveiro for the fifth successive day of racing in Galicia. The roll out is due at 13.10 local time, and the bunch faces a lengthy neutralised zone (though not by the Vuelta's own lofty standards in this regard) before reaching kilometre zero at 13.30.
Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) claimed stage honours on the Alto Mirador de Veixia yesterday, while second-placed Darwin Atapuma (BMC) had the consolation of taking the red jersey of race leader from Ruben Fernandez (Movistar). The principal favourites for overall victory all finished together, 2:05 down on the day, and were led home by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange).
The general classification is as follows ahead of today's stage:
1 Darwin Atapuma (Col) BMC Racing Team 13:23:10
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:29
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:33
4 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-BikeExchange 0:00:39
5 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
6 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:01:08
7 Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:11
8 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Sky 0:01:13
9 Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky 0:01:15
10 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:01:23
11 Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Direct Energie 0:01:24
12 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:36
13 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team 0:01:53
14 David De La Cruz (Spa) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:01:56
15 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 0:02:08
16 Marcel Wyss (Swi) IAM Cycling
17 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Drapac 0:02:14
18 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:02:18
19 Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:02:28
20 Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac 0:02:35
The peloton is currently negotiating the neutralised zone, with the red jersey of Atapuma leading the way early on. After successive summit finishes, an ostensibly gentler day of racing is in store this afternoon. The route hugs the Galician coast early on before turning inland at Ribadeo after 60 kilometres or so, from which point the terrain becomes rather more rugged. The category 3 Puerto de Marco de Álvare (11.8km at 3.6%) is the lone classified climb, but there’s plenty of rolling terrain in the final 50 kilometres. Indeed, the road climbs gently in the finale before flattening out for the last two kilometres. In theory, the sprinters ought to be able to manage this, but plenty of finisseurs will approach this kind of finish with relish.
Luis Mas Bonet (Caja Rural - Seguros RGA) is the lone non-starter today, meaning that 194 riders remain in this Vuelta. Mas Bonet suffered a hip dislocation when he crashed while riding to his team bus after yesterday's stage, and the Spaniard is unable to continue.
The greenery of the northwest of Spain does not come about by accident. After enjoying sunshine on the Vuelta thus far, the peloton is riding beneath steady rain as it approaches kilometre zero.
171km remaining from 171km
The flag drops and the attacking starts immediately. The tired legs in the peloton will be hoping that the break is allowed to go clear without too much of a struggle...
Tiago Machado (Katusha) has been eager to leave a mark on the Vuelta in the northwest - he hails from across the Portuguese border in Vila Nova de Famalicã - and he is in the first move of the day with Julien Morice (Direct Energie). The pair went away as soon as the flag dropped, and they have a handful of seconds on the peloton.
167km remaining from 171km
Machado is 8:51 down on general classification, while Morice is more than 33 minutes back. BMC have no reason to shut this move down, and the two leaders have built up a gap of one minute over the bunch.
162km remaining from 171km
The peloton fans across the road, while Machado and Morice continue to stretch out their advantage. The two leaders now have 2:40 in hand on the bunch.
157km remaining from 171km
The script is set for at least the first half of this stage, as Machado and Morice nudge their lead out to 3:40 on the rain-slicked coast road past Lieiro.
The state of Alberto Contador's form came under the microscope after he was distanced on the steep Ezaro on stage 3, but he finished safely with Valverde, Quintana, Froome et al yesterday, and insisted afterwards that his travails on Monday had been caused by dehydration. "I feel pretty optimistic now," Contador said. "I'll start to try to shake things up a little further on, when I've got the right kind of form that racing can give you."
151km remaining from 171km
Machado and Morice, meanwhile, are sticking gamely to their task at the front of the race, and their buffer stretches out a little further, to 4:30. BMC will be happy to let that advantage keep drifting outwards, but sooner or later, the sprinters' teams will look to keep the break's lead at manageable proportions.
Away from the Vuelta, world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) will return to road action at the weekend, when he lines out at the GP Plouay. Sagan, of course, raced the mountain bike event at the Rio 2016 Olympics, though it seems reports of his apparent "boredom" with road racing have been rather over-egged. The Slovak will race in the two Canadian WorldTour races next month, before riding the Eneco Tour as preparation for the defence of his world title in Doha.
143km remaining from 171km
Julien Morice has a decent pedigree in the pursuit, including a bronze medal at the 2015 Worlds and a French national title in 2014, and his efforts have helped the break to a five-minute advantage over the peloton.
Chris Froome lies third on GC, 33 seconds off Atapuma's red jersey and he has declared himself pleased with how his Vuelta has gone to date. The Sky rider made his very sudden and very surprising emergence at the top level at this race in 2011, and has raced it in four of the five years since, though that second place behind Juan Jose Cobo remains his best overall finish. "I think we're in a pretty good position. At the same time I wouldn't turn down the opportunity to go for the leader's jersey, if I had the opportunity, then I'd go for it," Froome said after yesterday's stage, and you can read the full story here.
137km remaining from 171km
This far but no further. BMC have decided that five minutes is about as much leeway as they're prepared to give Machado and Morice, as they begin to set a steady tempo at the head of the peloton.
130km remaining from 171km
The break's lead drops slightly to 4:40 as BMC continue to ride on the front of the bunch.
125km remaining from 171km
Tejay van Garderen is among the BMC riders working on the front in the service of Atapuma. The American lost 12 minutes yesterday to go with the time he coughed up the previous day, and he now lies some 18:05 down overall - though as he explained on the eve of the Vuelta, the general classification is not a target.
The excellent Pierre Carrey is on hand at the Tour de l'Avenir this week and is penning a daily rider portrait for Cyclingnews. Today, he introduces us to Breton climbing talent David Gaudu, who has already gone up La Planche des Belles Filles quicker than Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet. He turns pro with FDJ next season, and you can find out more here.
118km remaining from 171km
Rain continues to fall along the Galician coastline, as Machado and Morice push their advantage out once again. They are now 5:45 clear of the peloton.
As well as defending Darwin Atapuma's red jersey, BMC might be minded to set up Philippe Gilbert for this seeming puncheur's finale. Trouble is, Gilbert isn't entirely certain he can trust what's printed in the road book. “It’s hard to say because we receive the book with the profiles but the profile is wrong every day. I will be attentive, and I’ll see if I can try. It can be 10 percent, it can be 5 percent in the Vuelta, we will see,” Gilbert told Eurosport at the start.
Gilbert's friend and fellow Monaco resident Alexandre Vinokourov could probably tell him something about this finale, mind. Vinokourov won in Lugo ten years ago by pre-empting the sprinters in the final kilometre. Vinokourov went on to win that 2006 Vuelta, then tested positive for blood doping at the following year's Tour, before returning to win gold at the 2012 Olympics and then retiring to become general manager of the Astana team, the position he holds today. A lot can happen in a decade.
106km remaining from 171km
Trek-Segafredo have joined BMC at the head of the peloton, with Niccolo Bonifazio in mind. Rain continues to fall steadily over the race, with the two leaders 5:45 up the road.
Murilo Fischer (FDJ) has abandoned the Vuelta a Espana, the fifth rider to bid farewell to the race since the start on Saturday.
101km remaining from 171km
There has been a considerable slackening of the pace in the main peloton over the past ten kilometres or so, and Machado and Morice's advantage stretches out to 6:40.
Riccardo Zoidl (Trek-Segafredo) was a faller in the main peloton, incidentally, but the Austrian has remounted and rejoined the bunch.
It's a rather break and grey afternoon in Galicia, and the rain has begun to fall a little more heavily over a peloton where most riders are bundled up in capes and jackets.
98km remaining from 171km
Machado and Morice are making their way up an unclassified incline, where one hardy spectator stands beneath an umbrella and photographs them as they grind past.
95km remaining from 171km
The race is heading inland after hugging the coast for the opening two hours or so. Machado and Morice head towards Trabada with 5:40 in hand over the peloton.
The gap has dropped by a minute in the past few kilometres, and Machado and Morice have a brief conflab. The Frenchman seems uncertain as to whether they should persist in their effort, but Machado offers gestures to encourage him to press on.
85km remaining from 171km
While Machado and Morice make their way through rain-sodden countryside, the sun is shining at the finish in Lugo. The gap stands at 4:20.
81km remaining from 171km
Machado and Morice haven't quite sat up, but their pace has dropped considerably, just as BMC begin to stretch things out a little behind. The gap drops beneath four minutes.
75km remaining from 171km
The sun pokes through the clouds and it has dawned on Machado that he would be better off alone at the head of the race. The Portuguese rider accelerates clear of Morice and presses on alone, with a lead of 3:32 over the peloton.
73km remaining from 171km
Machado passes through the intermediate sprint in A Pontenova with a little more spring in his step now that he has rid himself of Morice. His advantage nudges up towards four minutes. The roads are still damp, but the skies are clearing overhead, and many in the bunch are taking the chance to divest themselves of jackets and gilets ahead of the finale.
68km remaining from 171km
Machado is on the incline that leads into the base of the day's lone categorised climb, the category 3 Marco de Álvare. His advantage over the peloton is 4:51.
Julien Morice is in the no man's land between Machado and the peloton, but the Frenchman will likely be swept up once the climb of Marco de Álvare begins in earnest.
60km remaining from 171km
Trek-Segafredo have returned to the front of the peloton, while Etixx-QuickStep and Giant-Alpecin have also dispatched men to maintain a watching brief.
Machado is eight kilometres from the summit of the Puerto de Marco de Álvare, and his lead over the bunch is 5:10. The roads are now dry, and the sun is still shining at the finish in Lugo to boot.
Martin Velits comes to the front of the peloton for Etixx-QuickStep, with Gianni Meersman in mind. Meersman, of course, won stage 2 in Baiona, beating Michael Schwarzmann (Bora-Argon 18) and Magnus Cort (Orica-BikeExchange) in the sprint.
56km remaining from 171km
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) is off the back of the peloton, perhaps because of a mechanical problem, but no matter, the Spaniard weaves among the cars and quickly bobs his way back up to the bunch.
Julien Morice, meanwhile, has been swept up by the main peloton. Machado pushes on alone towards the top of the Marco de Álvare, still 5:25 clear of the peloton.
Giant-Alpecin have now put their shoulders to the wheel at the front in support of Nikias Arndt, though with more than 50 kilometres remaining, there is no particular urgency to the chase just yet.
53km remaining from 171km
Tiago Machado leads over the climb and picks up the three king of the mountains points on offer at the summit. He remains more than five minutes clear of the bunch.
King of the mountains Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) wins the sprint for second place over the top of the climb and then continues with his effort over the other side. The Belgian has a small gap over the peloton, though he could have done with some company.
Undeterred, De Gendt puts his head down and powers up the road in pursuit of Machado. The speed is just beginning to pick up in the main peloton, however, and this seems a rather ambitious move, to say the least.
47km remaining from 171km
Machado, meanwhile, is into the final 50 kilometres with a lead of 4:42 over the peloton.
A coalition of sprinters' teams are swapping turns at the head of the peloton, as the business of whittling Machado's margin down to size begins in earnest. De Gendt, meanwhile, seems ready to sit up and wait for them.
De Gendt's cameo comes to an end as he is swept up by the peloton Up ahead, Machado beats on against the current, but it will take something remarkable for him to stay clear this afternoon.
41km remaining from 171km
The injection of pace in the main peloton has had a deleterious effect on Machado's advantage, which has had 90 seconds shaven off in double quick time. The gap is down to 3:30.
Although there are no further categorised climbs on the course, there is rolling terrain aplenty in the final 40 kilometres, as the route dips and rises along a ridge from here to Lugo.
38km remaining from 171km
Machado's advantage is melting rapidly in the late afternoon sunshine. The gap drops to just 2:35 as Etixx-QuickStep, Trek-Segafredo and Giant-Alpecin collaborate at the head of the pack.
37km remaining from 171km
At this rate, the sprinters' teams risk catching Machado too soon. The deficit is down to just 2:10, and Etixx-QuickStep et al might be minded to knock off the pace slightly in order to allow him linger out there a little longer.
In the finale in Lugo, meanwhile, there is a sharp right hand turn with 1.1 kilometres go, and then the road drops towards the flamme rouge. At 800 metres to go, the road pitches up to 6% for 250 metres or so. The gradients eases thereafter, with the final right hander coming at 500 metres to go. From there, the road rises very, very gently towards the finish.
34km remaining from 171km
Machado climbs out of the saddle on a rather false flat, all too aware that he is fighting a losing battle. His lead drops below the two-minute mark and now stands at 1:50.
30km remaining from 171km
Machado enters the final 30 kilometres with a buffer of just 1:35 as Etixx-QuickStep, Trek-Segafredo and Giant-Alpecin continue their working alliance at the head of the bunch.
Atapuma is safely ensconced behind his BMC teammates towards the front. Philippe Gilbert is a couple of positions in front of him, and, as he told Alasdair Fotheringham, he wants to sign off on his time at BMC with a big win between now and season's end. Gilbert will ride for Etixx-QuickStep in 2017.
25km remaining from 171km
Machado's buffer drops to 1:22 as more Etixx-QuickStep riders mass at the front of the pack. There's a phalanx of Sky riders up there too. The road climbs quite sharply from the 4km to go mark to the 2km to go banner, and the GC contenders will not want to get caught needlessly on the back foot.
Machado has refused to yield to the inevitable, and though his efforts are beginning to tell, he retains a lead of 1:20, helped in part, by the slightest slackening of pace in the main field.
20km remaining from 171km
Martin Velits (Etixx-QuickStep) leads the bunch into the final 20 kilometres, 1:10 down on Machado.
Machado's lead drops inside a minute, though for all his exertions this afternoon, the Portuguese is still pedalling relatively smoothly, even if his face is now beginning to betray signs of suffering.
16km remaining from 171km
A delegation from Tinkoff moves up towards the front, Contador safely tucked in among them. The turf war for positions ahead of the denouement has well and truly begun.
15km remaining from 171km
The latest false flat hurts Machado as he climbs out of the saddle. He won't last much longer in front.
Movistar, Sky and Tinkoff are all on the front as that false flat stiffens into a veritable incline.
14km remaining from 171km
Tiago Machado is finally caught by the peloton after 157 kilometres off the front. Gruppo compatto.
12km remaining from 171km
The wider roads on the run-in to Lugo are allowing teams to move up at the sides. Orica-BikeExhange take over at the head of the bunch.
11km remaining from 171km
Lotto Soudal's Adam Hansen hits the front, but there is a delegation from Sky tucked in behind him. They are aware, too, that the road both narrows and rises in the kilometres ahead, hence the scramble for positions at this juncture.
10km remaining from 171km
There's a fearsome pace in the peloton as they enter the final 10 kiometres. Nobody can even countenance trying to slip off the front at this rate of knots.
9km remaining from 171km
Bora-Argon 18 and Giant-Alpecin now have competing sprint trains at the head of the peloton. Finisseurs such as Gilbert and Simon Gerrans (Orica-BikeExchange) remain near the front, with that kick up to the final two kilometres in mind.
8km remaining from 171km
No one team is able to dictate the terms here, but for now at least, they're all on the same page and the speed continues to ratchet upwards. Froome and Contador are each well-positioned and protected near the front.
7km remaining from 171km
The road narrows as the race enters the final 7 kilometres. Everybody is through safely, but it's notable that Tinkoff seemed to be alive to the danger, with Daniele Bennati leading Contador through.
6km remaining from 171km
Bennati puts in a mammoth turn on the front, piloting the peloton through the roundabouts on t the fringes of Lugo.
5km remaining from 171km
Bennati's effort has strung out the peloton ahead of the kick up towards the finish, but Sky et al are battling to move up.
4km remaining from 171km
Sky and Lotto Soudal take over on the front as the road begins to rise. At the back, meanwhile, flagging riders are happy to sit up for the day.
3km remaining from 171km
Adam Hansen maintains a high pace at the head of the bunch as the road rears up towards the finish. At this speed, it will be very difficult for anyone to launch a telling attack.
3km remaining from 171km
Rojas puts in a turn for Movistar, before Sky take over at the 3km to go banner.
2km remaining from 171km
Michal Kwiatkowski leads for Sky as the gradient begins to bite.
2km remaining from 171km
Simon Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac) attacks on the climb and only Philippe Gilbert (BMC) can follow, albeit at a distance.
2km remaining from 171km
Gilbert catches Clarke and tries to blow right by him, but the Australian is just about managing to hold his wheel.
1km remaining from 171km
Clarke and Gilbert share the workload on the front, with a lead of 10 seconds or so over the bunch. The road is still rising.
1km remaining from 171km
Clarke and Gilbert are pegged back by the bunch as the road flattens out. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) crashed in the finale, meanwhile, and is being attended to by his team doctor.
1km remaining from 171km
No one team wants to take up the pace-setting in the final kilometre, and Gilbert has another go.
Gilbert's move is snuffed out, as Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) hits the front in support of Gianni Meersman.
Meersman opens his sprint from distance. Only Niccolo Bonifazio (Trek-Segafredo) can come with him.
Gianni Meersman (Etixx-QuickStep) wins stage 5 of the Vuelta a Espana.
Kruijswijk was not the only rider to come down in the finale, though the television pictures did not show the crash. A number of riders are on the ground, including Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff).
It was in fact Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) who placed second on the stage, while Kevin Reza (FDJ) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) were third and fourth.
1 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
2 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
3 Kévin Reza (Fra) FDJ
4 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team
5 Zico Waeytens (Bel) Team Giant-Alpecin
6 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
7 Romain Hardy (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
8 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
9 Kenneth Van Bilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
10 José Gonçalves (Por) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
It was a reduced group that fought out the sprint, after that second crash in the final kilometre. Robert Kiserlovski was the Tinkoff rider caught in the incident. The last television images showed the Croatian had taken to his feet, though a team doctor was examining an apparent mouth injury.
Kruijswijk crashed earlier, though we didn't see images of either incident. The Dutchman was lying on the tarmac clutching his collarbone and it may well prove that his Vuelta is already over.
Darwin Atapuma (BMC) seems to have been among the many riders delayed by that second crash in the finale, but we assume that they will all be awarded the same time as the stage winner. That would mean the Colombian retains his red jersey, but we await official confirmation.
Gianni Meersman (Etixx-QuickStep) speaks before mounting the podium: "I was very happy with the first win, it gave me a lot of confidence and I started today with no stress. The lead-out from Stybar was incredible and when I saw the 200 metres to go sign I just went because I knew if I stopped the others would come from behind. In the end nobody passed me and I’m very happy."
The second-placed Fabio Felline simply had too much ground to make up on Meersman in the final 200 metres. "It was a nervous finale, and when Gilbert and Clarke went for it, that made it a bit more complicated,"Felline said. "We had to get to the front quickly because it was a question of getting in a good position, but I made a big effort before the sprint."
Steven de Jongh has provided Eurosport with an update on Robert Kiserlovski's condition: "No we don’t know a lot at this point in time. We know he’s hurt a lot his teeth because he was complaining a lot about that and his collarbone, he thought his collarbone was broken but we couldn’t see if it was. He finished and we’ll take an x-ray and see how he is."
The results on the Vuelta website suggest that Alejandro Valverde has taken possession of the overall, but it appears, as suspected, that the commissaires have amended the stage results and expunged the gaps provoked by the crashes. Darwin Atapuma is currently being presented with the red jersey on the podium in Lugo.
While Atapuma is in red, we're still waiting for the organisation to confirm whether there were any changes elsewhere in the on top 10 on general classification. It is clear, however, that Steven Kruijswijk's Vuelta is over, with his teammate George Bennett writing on Twitter that the crash was provoked by a roadside pole in the finale: "Gutted to loose our main man @s_kruijswijk - what the fuck was that pole doing in the final- did the UCI not learn from basque last year??"
The incident to which Bennett refers is the crash on stage 1 of last year's Tour of the Basque Country that left Peter Stetina with fractures to his tibia, kneecap and ribs.
We can confirm, too, that Darwin Atapuma has been and gone from the red jersey's post-stage press conference (story to follow on Cyclingnews), and we are assured from Spain that the corrected GC standings will be published imminently.
1 Darwin Atapuma (Col) BMC Racing Team 17:39:52
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:00:28
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:32
4 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:38
5 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-BikeExchange 0:00:38
6 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:01:07
7 Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:10
8 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Sky 0:01:12
9 Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky 0:01:14
10 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx-QuickStep 0:01:22
Thanks for joining our live coverage on Cyclingnews today. A full report, results and pictures will follow here, and we'll be back with more tomorrow from stage 6.
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