You gotta love a Grand Tour that throws in some GC excitement in the first week – and leave it to the Spanish to hand out an HC mountain day on stage 5. It was a super showdown on the final slopes to the summit at la Covatilla, with all the big names in the mix, and then a real surprise as last year’s ProTour winner rode ‘em all off his wheel.
This is the first test of this year’s Vuelta, from the start in Plasencia there are two first category climbs, one second and the finish up the special category La Covatilla (Bйjar), 178 kilometers of hard roads.
It’s always great to see a mountain top finish in the first week – other Grand Tours should take note.
The first climb, the Puerto de Piornal, saw a group of hopefuls go ahead consisting of: Rasmussen (Rabobank), Florencio (Bouygues), Caucchioli (Credit Agricole), Arroyo, Rodriguez (Illes Balears), Gusev, Joachim (Discovery Channel), Arrieta (Ag2r), Gomez (Saunier Duval), Landaluze (Euskaltel), Leblacher (Franзaise des Jeux), Hiekmann (Gerolsteiner), Bettini (Quick Step-Innergetic), Elias, Vallejo (Relax-Gam), Paulinho (Astana Team) at the top they had 1 minute 40 seconds and CSC and Illes Ballears keeping the tempo in the bunch.
The second climb of the Puerta de Honduras saw the lead group with four and a half minutes, but this is a tough climb which split things up with ten riders going ahead over the top, but it was all back together again by the bottom. The 2nd Cat Alto de Lagunilla sees Joachim (Discovery) attacks but is caught by Rasmussen, Caucchioli, Elias, Gusev, Landaluze, Arroyo and Paulinho.
Retirements so far; Perdiguero and Wegelius, Wegelius after two crashes and Korff didn’t sign on this morning.
Sergio Paulinho and David Arroyo had a good go of it today, but didn’t get the necessary luck or third leg to hold off the GC boys behind.
As the group enter the Province of Salamanca with just under 40 kilometres to the finish, Iсigo Landaluze (Euskaltel) goes away on his own from the lead group, a nice try but didn’t last too long and he was passed first by the leaders then he was caught by the bunch which was being powered along by Illes Balears. The front group only had Gusev, Joachim, Arroyo, a suffering Rasmussen, Cauccioli and Elias and definitely looks doomed as they start the foothills of La Covatilla with only 50 seconds in hand on a bunch of about 40 odd riders.
CSC did a whole lotta work today on the front, and it paid off in moderate fashion. Sastre is where he always seems to be – in contention, but not in the lead.
Ten kilometres to go and Paulinho (Astana) leaves the leaders and really gives it some pain, soon Arroyo (Illes Balears) crosses to him, behind CSC and Illes Balears are starting to chase seriously. The two leaders hit the 10.5% part of the climb with 1 minute 15 seconds as last year’s winner Menchov can’t hold on to the bunch, Periero and Vinokourov also struggle.
You know it has to be easy when Valverde figures he’ll just go ahead and set tempo himself.
The peloton (15 riders) was led by Cuesta for CSC leader, Sastre with Valverde on his wheel and Di Luca close to them. Gomez Merchante from Saunier Duval crosses over to the two leaders as Paulinho is dropped and Arroyo tries to hang on but not for long, Di Luca is the most aggressive rider in the chasers, attacking many times to whittle the group, Sastre can’t cope and is dropped, Valverde with him and Kashechkin along for company.
DiLuca raised more than a few eyebrows today, but it was Brajkovic who really made the impression. Yet another young’n.
Di Luca takes Brajkovic (Discovery) up to Gomez Merchante and we have three up front and three chasing, Gomez Merchante is dropped and Kasheskin tries to catch Di Luca and Brajkovic, but Di Luca starts the sprint early, Brajovic and Kasheskin don’t stand a chance and Danilo wins the stage. Sastre stays with Valverde and the others are nowhere.
Better late than never, right? Apparently Danilo DiLuca needs to plan to peak in February or March, if he wants to do well in the Giro, cuz he’s about three months late.
Losers today were: Pereiro, Vinokourov and Menchov, Sastre and Valverde are the men to watch and they are watching each other, so someone else could use this to their advantage, wait and see!
So yeah, about that…didn’t quite go as expected…
Stage 5 Result
1є DI LUCA, Danilo ITA LIQ 5:02:25
2є BRAJKOVIC, Janez SLO DSC m.t.
3є KASHECHKIN, Andrey KAZ AWT a 7
4є GOMEZ MARCHANTE, Josй Ange ESP SDV a 15
5є SASTRE, Carlos ESP CSC a 22
6є VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP CEI a 22
7є MARZOLI, Ruggero ITA LAM a 36
8є SБNCHEZ, Samuel ESP EUS a 39
9є BELTRAN, Manuel ESP DSC a 39
10є KOHL, Bernhard AUT TMO a 42
11є DANIELSON, Thomas USA DSC a 42
12є PIEPOLI, Leonardo ITA SDV a 1:09
13є HERNБNDEZ, Jesъs ESP REG a 1:27
14є HESJEDAL, Ryder CAN PHO a 1:32
15є PAULINHO, Sergio POR AWT a 1:35
16є JUFRE, Josep ESP DVL a 1:44
17є MAYO, Iban ESP EUS a 1:44
18є ANTON, Igor ESP EUS a 1:44
19є ARROYO, David ESP CEI a 1:54
20є REBELLIN, Davide ITA GST a 2:12
21є VINOKOUROV, Alexandre KAZ AWT a 2:13
Overall After Stage 5:
1є DI LUCA, Danilo ITA LIQ 18:37:56
2є BRAJKOVIC, Janez SLO DSC a 4
3є KASHECHKIN, Andrey KAZ AWT a 18
4є SASTRE, Carlos ESP CSC a 29
5є GOMEZ MARCHANTE, Josй Angel ESP SDV a 35
6є VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP CEI a 36
7є BELTRAN, Manuel ESP DSC a 55
8є DANIELSON, Thomas USA DSC a 58
9є KOHL, Bernhard AUT TMO a 1:00
10є SБNCHEZ, Samuel ESP EUS a 1:04
11є MARZOLI, Ruggero ITA LAM a 1:04
12є PIEPOLI, Leonardo ITA SDV a 1:29
13є PAULINHO, Sergio POR AWT a 1:54
14є HESJEDAL, Ryder CAN PHO a 2:06
15є ANTON, Igor ESP EUS a 2:09
16є MAYO, Iban ESP EUS a 2:09
17є HERNБNDEZ, Jesъs ESP REG a 2:11
18є JUFRE, Josep ESP DVL a 2:16
19є VINOKOUROV, Alexandre KAZ AWT a 2:32
20є SZMYD, Sylvester POL LAM a 2:43
21є KARPETS, Vladimir RUS CEI a 2:46
22є COBO, Juan Josй ESP SDV a 2:52
23є MILLAR, David GBR SDV a 3:12
24є ARROYO, David ESP CEI a 3:24
25є JOLY, Sйbastien FRA FDJ a 3:31