After another long hot day at the Vuelta a Espana, Alejandre Valverde (Movistar) won the 5th stage to Vejer de la Frontera. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) was 2nd in the uphill sprint with Dani Moreno (Katusha) rounding out the podium.
At 213km in length, stage 5 would be the 2nd longest stage of the race. It was a predominantly flat course that saw 6 riders go clear in the opening kilometer of the race. Initially there was no chase, so the gap ballooned to just over 13 minutes rather quickly. Eventually Orica-Greenedge decided to come to the front and set the tempo.
Tinkoff-Saxo would be the team that joined the Aussie outfit and they really upped the tempo which saw the gap plummet. MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung were looking to keep both Louis Meintjes and Kristian Sbaragli out of trouble today and there were no real issues to report on in the build up to the tough final 4km. With sections around 20% on the final climb to the line, positioning before the climb was the most important objective for our team.
With 14km to go the escapees were caught and it was a sprint to start the climb. Louis started the climb in a decent place but a crash in front of him saw him have to put a foot down. As the pace was on up front it was a chase to the line for our young South African as he tried to limit his losses to the eventual winner, Valverde. Louis came home 32nd, just 29″ down which was a great effort at the end of the day by Louis and the rest of the team.
Jay Thomson – Rider
The break went early on and Orica played the fun little game of waiting to see who would ride first. Eventually they decided to start riding and from then on it was quite hard. As I thought Tinkoff-Saxo joined in too, there was a section of crosswind but it wasn’t blowing too hard and no team wanted to commit to anything as it was too far out. It was a bit nervy though as there was always the fight for position in case something might happen. The guys did a good job, we looked after our protected riders pretty well. Coming into the climb, it was like a sprint for the bottom. The climb was a lot steeper than most of us thought so it didn’t really work out as we thought but looking at how Louis went it wasn’t a bad day at all.
Jean-Pierre Heynderickx – Sport Director
In our meeting today we already said that Louis was a rider we would go full gas for. He was actually very good on the last climb but had bad luck. There was a crash in front of him and he had to stop as his chain was off. He almost made it back to the first group, without the misfortune he could’ve done a top result.