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Vuelta a San Juan Stage 5 – Live Coverage

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Well, it's a big day here at the Vuelta a San Juan. The rest day is behind us and the peloton is ready to tackle the Alto Colorado mountain-top finish. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) currently leads the overall. Can the young Belgian hold off the South American climbers? We'll know in a few hours.

Today we'll be traveling 175.1km, starting in Caucete and finishing with the 15km grind up Alto Colorado.

You can see from the stage profile. Today is a long day of climbing with a few brief respite's from the uphill slog...

The kicker is the long climb up Alto Colorado. It's not exceptionally steep, but it's very exposed, as is the run up to the climb, so wind can play a factor and there have been reports there will be a steady crosswind for most of the day.

As a little refresher, here's the top 10 from stage 4, which ended with a bunch sprint and didn't change the top of the general classification standings...

And here's the current GC top 10

You can read all about stage 4 and see the photos from Bettini and Getty HERE

Thursday's rest day was a chance for the riders to recharge their engines before the big day of climbing and then the final two days before the race concludes Sunday. mOst of the teams went on short rides to keep the riders' legs loose, but some had other obligations to fill. Peter Sagan hosted the San Juan Sagan Fondo.

Colombian Fernando Gaviria and Argentine Max Richeze of UAE team Emirates surprised the participants and joined the ride.

Looks like a pretty good time for the local riders!

And while we weer catching up with the 'Sagando' the flag dropped and the race has started. They won't be in too big a hurry today with alot of uphill ahead.

Our man on the ground in Argentina, Barry Ryan, put together an excellent preview of today that fills in a lot of the details. As Barry points out, 23 years separate our two main protagonists. 

We're 20km away from today's first intermediate sprint at 37.2km. The second sprint is at 87.8km. The first KOM day hits at 63.4km, followed by KOMs at 107.1km, 121.8km and at the finish line. The first KOM is a category 3, followed by two category 2s and the final category 1 on Alto Colorado.

Looks like an eight-rider group is getting away

In other racing news, Emanuel Buchmann won Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana, the second race of the Challenge Mallorca series, after a daring descent on the penultimate climb of the race.

Switching gears a bit to cyclo-cross and this weekend's UCI World Championships, Mathieu van der Poel says he relaxed and ready to defend his title.

Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo put together and excellent preview of all the categories that will be racing for rainbow jerseys this weekend.

It was a tricky maneuver in this wind, but we've lowered the CN blimp close enough to get some numbers in the breakaway. They've got a healthy 3:30 gap on the peloton. Here ya go...

if you like gravel bikes, here's a look at Geoff Kabush’s descent-destroying OPEN U.P.

Emiliano Contreras wins the first sprint at 37.2km ahead of Daniel Juarez and Francisco Monte

The new gap to the peloton after that sprint is 4:25. Giddyup!

Alto Colorado has featured in the Vuelta a San Juan Since the UCI 2.1 race stepped up to take the place of the Tour de San Luis, also in Argentina. In 2017, Rui Costa, riding for UAE Team Emirates won on Alto Colorado, although Trek-Segafredo's Bauke Mollema won the overall. 

We're 50km into the day, and the breakaway of eight riders has 4:20 on the peloton containing overall race leader Remco Evenepoel of Deceuninck-QuickStep.

Looks like the peloton may have decided that giving the escapees more than four minutes wasn't a good idea, and Deceuninck-QuickStep have picked up the pace on the front

It appears we've lost Facundo Matias Cattapán from the breakaway, which now  contains 7 riders:

There's not a lot going on at the top of the Alto Colorado climb. There's no infrastructure for anything there, as the road simply continues down the other side of the mountain and the finish is at the highest point. The race brings in generators and trucks, podium trusses and even a mobile press room. There's ample parking, but most of the spectators arrive by bus transports provided by the race. Alto Colorado is a long drive from any type of 'civilisation,' so these are people who really, really want to see a bike race finish.

Again, it's a very exposed area, with little vegetation.

Facundo Cattapan is back in the bunch, his time drifting backward in no-man's land now complete

Deceuninck-QuickStep continues to lead the chase in the peloton. The Belgian team appears to have things well under control top set up Evenepoel with a good chance to defend his lead on the final climb. There's a lot of riding left before they get there, however.

The leaders have gone through the first KOM, taken by Francisco Monte ahead of Gerardo Atencio and Nelson Soto. 

With 90km remaining in today's stage, the breakaway of seven has 2:30 on the bunch containing race leader Remco Evenepoel. The mountain-top finish on Alto Colorado awaits.

Francisco Monte wins the second intermediate sprint of the day at 87.8km.

We've got an attacks among the escapees, and the breakaway appears to be breaking up.

Three riders have attacked and established a new lead group with 3:40 on foour chasers and then the peloton:

Now just two riders from the original breakaway of seven are chasing the three leaders. Those two riders are Emiliano Contreras and the Italian, Antonio Zullo 

Gap from the peloton to the leaders is 2:15

Current situation on the road:

The leaders have gone through the second KOM at 107.5km.
Four places deep go to:

Just over 60km of racing remain

Deceuninck-QuickStep continues leading the peloton in support of Evenepoel, and the effort is slowly but surely reducing the gap to the leaders as Alto Colorado approaches.

Our leaders should be coming up on KOM #3 soon with 47.7km to go.

Magno Prado, Nelson Soto and Gerardo Atencio are our three leaders. They've taken their gap back out to 4:55 with 55 km to go

It's a barren landscape are leaders are currently riding through. There are few distraction as they cooperate well together. The bunch seems to have slowed up a bit and riders are spread across the road, which would explain why the gap has gone back out.

Prado gets a visit from his team care in the breakaway for some water and advice.

There is certainly no urgency in the peloton at the moment as riders are gutter to gutter.

With 50km to go, the gap to our three leaders is hovering at four minutes

Results from KOM #3

Gerardo Atencio
Magno Prado
Nelson Soto

Our leaders' gap has ballooned up to 5:30 with 40km to race

UAE Team Emirates is on the front the peloton driving the pace now, and there is a significant crosswind. Gaps are opening up in the peloton

Bora-Hansgrohe riders have now come up to relieve UAE on the front of the peloton.

There's now a big split in the peloton.... Key the drama

A pair of Israel Start-Up Nation riders are on the front of that second peloton group pushing the pace trying to reconnect with the front.

Big drama. Evenenpoel has been caught out and is in the second group. He's got teammates with him the pace, but he's expending energy in tis chase

Bora-Hansgrohe and UAE Team Emirates are responsible for the pace-making that split the bunch and put Evenpoel and QuickStep on the back foot.

The two peloton groups are separated by one minute. The gap from the breakaway to the first peloton group is 1:50 with 27.5km to go

Oscar Sevilla did not make the front peloton group. 

UAE Team Emirates is riding for Brandon McNulty, who started the day in fifth place, 1:27 behind Evenepoel.

Evenepoel is having to chase himself now, but the gap does not appear to be coming back

The breakaway has been absorbed by the front group. Evenepoel is doing a lot of work.

Filippo Ganna is the best-placed GC rider in the front group, followed by Nelson Oliveira, McNulty and Maciej Bodnar. 

With 18.5km to go the gap between the Ganna and Evenpoel groups is 50 seconds

The gap is down to 45 seconds. The momentum is moving in Evenepoel's direction

The gap is down to 35 seconds, and they're about 1km away from the bottom of the final 15km climb up Alto Colorado. The lower slopes are a moderate grade, and the riders have been gaining elevation for some time now.

15km to go and the gap between the Ganna and Evenepeol groups is just 19 seconds

The attempt to drop and Evenepoel and the subsequent chase has really put the pressure on this field, which is disintegrating as the finale approaches.

McNulty sensed Evenepoel had almost made contact with the lead group, and the American for UAE has attacked with Juan Javier Melivilo 

Nice move by McNulty to keep the pressure on just as Evenepoel almost made it back to the group. The front group has lost its impetus, and so he took control

16 seconds from McNulty to the front peloton group, which Evenepoel is now in.

Three riders are trying to bridge to McNulty and Melivilo. Looks like it's Guillaume Martin from Cofidis

It's McNulty and Martin on the front alone now

With 10km to go, McNulty and Martin have 15 seconds

Four leaders in the front now, but they are only just ahead of Evenepoel and the other GC cntenders

8km to go – Evenepoel and the rest have caught the leaders. Now a very small "peloton" is about to hit steeper and steeper pitches on the climb. The final kilometre is the steepest.

The front group is down to about a dozen riders. This is not a European climb with narrow roads and hairpin turns. It's a long steady grind that gets steeper and steeper.

The top five from the GC are currently in the lead group.

5km to go, and there's a bit of a stalemate among the lead group. None of the riders seems willing to risk blowing up on the climb with an early attack.

Evenepoel, Ganna, Sevilla, Oliveira, McNulty, Bodnar are all there

Riders are shedding bottles with 3.3km to go, but no one has attacked!

Evenepoel is on the front now.

Martin attacks, and Evenepoel is staright on his wheel.

McNulty attacks again, followed by Sevilla and Evenepoel. Ganna is hanging on. 1.5km to go, and it's the steepest on the final k

Eight riders in the lead group.

five riders go under the 1k banner in the lead

Ganna is back  in the group!

Miguel Eduardo Flórez (Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec) wins!!!

The 23-year-old Colombian is followed across the line by Sevilla, McNulty and then Martin. Evenepoel is right there and saved his leader's jersey.

The rest of the peloton is coming in groups of one or two. The field totally exploded on the ferocious approach to the climb

Stage 5 top 10

General Classification after stage 5

An impressive win by Florez

And also an impressive ride by the young race leader, who was under considerable pressure in the crosswinds yet fought back and saved his jersey – and very likely an overall victory.

The Vuelta a san Juan will return tomorrow, and so will our live coverage. The 174.5km stage in the Autódromo El Villicúm should be interesting with a fast finishing circuit. It should another day for the fastmen. I'll be enjoying the weekend and some Oregon sunshine, but you'll be in good hands, rest assured.

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