The 5th stage of the La Vuelta a Espana saw Caleb Ewan win his first grand tour stage by out sprinting John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo).
It would pretty much be your stock standard sprinters stage, just without a typical sprint finish run in. It was really flat all day and then with just 500 meters to go the road would ramp upwards.
The early break of three riders which included the Ethiopian champion, Tsgabu Grmay (Lampre-Merida) were allowed to go 7 minutes ahead of the peloton before Tinkoff-Saxo and Giant-Alpecin brought the race together with 9km to go.
Once the catch was made the sprinters teams all rallied around their protected riders and MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung would do the same. Jay Thomson, after piloting his team to the front, came to the fore and led the peloton from around 6.5km to 4km to go. Jaco Venter then took over before dropping Kristian Sbaragli off on the wheel of Sagan with 2km to go.
The race strung out going through the tight and twisty roundabouts and there was a sharp left hander at 600m whereafter the drag to the line began. It was a tough man’s sprint as the gradient rose to close on 10% and it was the more diminutive in size Ewan, that took the spoils with Sbaragli coming home in 6th for our African team.
Kristian Sbaragli – Rider
It was a warm stage today. We were focused for the sprint. Unfortunately the sprint was a bit too steep for me, especially the last 200 meters were it went from 6% or 7% to 10%. I started to sprint in 6th position and held my place but I couldn’t pass the guys in front of me. It’s a good result but I would still like to do better so we will look for the next opportunity.
Jens Zemke – Head of Performance
The plan was clear, we were completely focused on Kristian as there are very few opportunities for the sprinters in this Vuelta. It was announced that we were the team doing the leadout so compliments to our boys and Kristian finished with a super result. This is a grand tour and the riders in front of him are pretty well known in the sprinting scene so we can live with 6th place. We did not make any mistakes and we hope that if others make mistakes we can capitalize on it.