Vuelta al Pais Vasco: Porte in control


Stage 5 and Paris-Nice winner Richie Porte survived an epic stage over 10 categorised climbs in  race that saw sixty plus riders abandon.  Porte won the stage and put himself in the box seat for the overall victory

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The Tasmanian capitalised on an incredible display of control from his team-mates on the toughest stage of the race before chipping clear heading into the final kilometre to win by four seconds. Henao was third into Beasain, narrowly edged out by Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) to retain the yellow jersey. The pair led home a group of seven riders, all finishing four seconds behind Porte.


A very happy Richie Porte wins stage 5. Photo: Vuelta al Pais Vasco

On a tough stage featuring 10 categorised climbs, the race was made worse by torrential rain, sleet and even snow as the Basque Country again lived up to its reputation. On the third passage over the steep ramps of the Alto de Olaberria it was Sanchez who took it up, increasing the pace after Team Sky’s Vasil Kiryienka had finally pulled off the front doing untold damage with the Belarusian having spent an incredible prolonged stint on the front.

With the move of Sanchez splitting apart an already depleted peloton, Porte timed his move to perfection on the flat run-in, catching his rivals looking at one another as he opened up daylight and powered home his advantage. Porte remains third overall, now level on time with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) six seconds back on Henao, who remained glued to the wheel of Sanchez in defence of yellow.

The race will be decided on Saturday with 24km time trial in Beasain.

Fresh from his fifth win of the season, the quite unassuming Australian explained “It was the last road stage and everybody wanted to be in the breakaway,” he said. “In the end, the guys up the road were the guys who had the legs to be there. They were strong riders but Kiryienka and Xabi were just absolutely incredible. They controlled things all day. For Sergio and myself, we just had to finish it off and it worked perfectly.”


Former track start, Kiryienka in control of the race for team Sky. Photo: Vuelta al Pais Vasco 

Spending close to five hours in horrendous conditions Porte admitted that he and the team had little choice but to get on with the job in hand. “It was the same yesterday and I think tomorrow could be much the same,” he confirmed. “At the end of the day, everybody’s in the same boat. Everybody just got on with it. I think there was no better place to be today than riding up at the front. The team were just incredible. We came here with a depleted team and I think everyone has stepped up and done a brilliant job.”

Attention now turns to the time trial and despite his current form and momentum, Porte is taking nothing for granted for the finale. “I guess that’s the goal now – to finish it off. I’ll enjoy today and winning this stage but tomorrow is going to be a whole different ball game. It’s not a typical time trial. There’s some climbs in there and I’ll take it as it comes. Regardless, it’s been a brilliant Pays Basque. We’ve won two stages and Sergio’s had the jersey for three days now.”

The toughest day of the race saw the riders greeted with barely a flat kilometre following the stage start in Eibar. A number of riders opted to climb off as Team Sky set about controlling the early moves, Joe Dombrowski and Jonathan Tiernan-Locke were forced into action as a number of dangerous riders attempted to go clear. Jose Herrada (Movistar) and Egor Silin (Astana) opened out a gap before being joined by seven further riders to form a strong group of nine.

Two more Movistar riders (Javier Moreno and Rui Costa) signally the team’s intent, with the likes of Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) and Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) all combining to mount a dangerous challenge.

With a depleted team of six men, it was then left to Xabier Zandio and Kiryienka to set about shutting down the gap, the pair swapping turns before Kiryienka was left to pull along the bunch from deep in the stage. The sheer cumulative weight of climbing saw the front group begin to split – Herrada, Costa, Talansky, Navarro and Fuglsang ploughing on while Omar Fraile (Caja Rural) put in an impressive dig to bridge across and push onwards solo.

The penultimate time across the line the break were caught but Fraile ploughed on, opening out a gap in excess of a minute, only to be caught with a tantalising 6km to go.

1 PORTE Richie Sky Procycling 4:40:43
2 SANCHEZ GONZALEZ Samuel Euskaltel – Euskadi0:04
3 HENAO MONTOYA Sergio Luis Sky Procycling
4 QUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander Movistar Team
5 WEENING Pieter Orica GreenEDGE
6 GADRET John AG2R La Mondiale
7 CONTADOR VELASCO Alberto Team Saxo-Tinkoff
8 SPILAK Simon Katusha Team
9 ULISSI Diego Lampre – Merida 0:20
10 CARUSO Giampaolo Katusha Team

69 MARTIN Tony Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 15:39

DNF SCHLECK Andy RadioShack – Leopard –
DNF TIERNAN-LOCKE Jonathan Sky Procycling –
DNF GILBERT Philippe BMC Racing Team

1 HENAO MONTOYA Sergio Luis Sky Procycling 21:04:07
2 QUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander Movistar Team 0:06
3 PORTE Richie Sky Procycling
4 CONTADOR VELASCO Alberto Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:10
5 SPILAK Simon Katusha Team
6 WEENING Pieter Orica GreenEDGE 0:35
7 BETANCUR GOMEZ Carlos Alberto AG2R La Mondiale 0:37
8 SANCHEZ GONZALEZ Samuel Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:47
9 CARUSO Giampaolo Katusha Team 0:51
10 ULISSI Diego Lampre – Merida 1:03



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