Vuelta a España: van Garderen Moves into Second After Steep Stage 5 Finish23. August 2017, Alcossebre (ESP) — Road Team
Tejay van Garderen and Nicolas Roche reinforced their General Classification intentions with a strong display on the steep summit finish of stage 5 which saw van Garderen move into second place and Roche just behind in fourth place overall.
With five categorized climbs sprinkled throughout the 157.5km stage, and gradients of 20% on the final category 3 Ermita Santa Lucia climb, the stage was set for another General Classification battle.
Nine riders initially went clear before the first climb and were later joined by a further eight riders to form a solid breakaway of 17 riders.
With race leader Chris Froome’s Team Sky controlling the race, the breakaway was kept to within 3’30” for the first 100km of racing and it looked like the chase would eventually pull the group back.
However, attacks from the breakaway on the Alto de la Serratella split the group and Marco Haller (Katusha-Alpecin) went clear to also extend his advantage to 5’10” with 38km to go.
Back in the peloton, van Garderen and Roche were well-protected, and it soon became clear that the stage win would go to the breakaway when the gap went out to more than seven minutes.
At the bottom of the descent, Haller was caught by Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Pro Cycling Team) and Matej Mohoric (UAE Team Emirates) and the leading trio stayed together before dropping Mohoric inside the final 30km.
Lutsenkso eventually went clear on the approach to the Ermita Santa Lucia climb and held on to take the solo stage win.
Meanwhile, Rohan Dennis and Francisco Ventoso expertly put van Garderen and Roche in the perfect positon as the peloton made the turn and hit the 3km to go mark.
A strong display from the BMC Racing Team duo saw van Garderen match the speed of a select group of General Classification contenders including Froome and Roche follow just behind.
Just five riders in Froome’s group, including van Garderen, remained with 300 meters to go and it was as the group hit the 20% gradient that van Garderen lost the wheel to finish just eight seconds behind the quartet, with Roche following three seconds behind.
The impressive display from van Garderen and Roche sees van Garderen trail Froome by 10 seconds in second place and Roche 13 seconds behind Froome in fourth place overall.
Quotes from the Finish Line
Tejay van Garderen:
“You never know on days like today. A lumpy day, the GC is sort of set so there are guys down on time, so as long as it’s the right composition in the breakaway it always has a chance. I think Team Sky was happy to let the bonus seconds slip away because Froome was only two seconds out of the jersey. It wasn’t a big surprise but it would have been a different outcome to be fighting for the stage.”
“This finish was certainly a category 2 climb in my books, if not a category 1. We really just wanted to stay safe. Rohan Dennis and Fran Ventoso, our big power guys, led us into the climb and put us into a good position. That definitely saves a lot of energy in the first couple of kilometers without having to move up. It’s a pity I slipped a little bit there in the final but I think I’m right there and if I keep chipping away day by day, we’re headed in a good direction.”
Yvon Ledanois, Sports Director:
“The plan for today was to have all of the riders together with Tejay van Garderen and Nicolas Roche and put them in a good position before the last climb. Placing today was very important. The team did an amazing job with 10km to go and then Fran Ventoso was the last guy who put Tejay at the front as they hit the final climb. It was a perfect job. After when I saw the result, I’m happy. We didn’t lose energy by being in the breakaway. You never know with a day like today if it goes to the line or not and I think tomorrow will be different again. We are sticking to our plan and taking things day by day. But, today was a good result.”
Vuelta a España
Stage 5 Benicassim > Alcossebre (157.5km)
Top 3: 1. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Pro Cycling Team), 2. Merhawi Kudus (Team Dimension Data), 3. Marc Soler (Movistar Team).
BMC Racing Team top 3: 17. Tejay van Garderen, 19. Nicolas Roche, 108. Rohan Dennis.
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