Stage 5: Vuelta

Alexey Lutsenko wins the stage but the GC battles hots up as Froome goes on the attack on stage 5 of the Vuelta as Aru, Nibali, Bardet lose time

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Stage 5: Vuelta

Alexey Lutsenko climbed to a solo victory on Stage 5 of the Vuelta a España as Chris Froome extended his overall lead.

Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team) formed part of a 17-man breakaway but moved clear on his own 3km from the summit finish at Alcossebre and hung on to win by 42 seconds from runner-up Merhawi Kudus (Team Dimension Data) and 56 seconds from third-placed Marc Soler (Movistar Team).

Froome (Team Sky) pulled away from his closest general classification rivals in the last 1km and crossed the line 4’31” down in a group also containing Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), Esteban Chaves (ORICA-SCOTT) and Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac).

Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team) was unable to follow and lost 11 seconds, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) finished 26 seconds back and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) surrendered a damaging 49 seconds. It means Froome’s overall lead is now 10 seconds over second-placed Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) and 11 seconds over third-placed Chaves.

Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team) “In 2014 I did my first Vuelta and managed to get a second place, but this is the biggest win of my career – no doubt. It was very hard before the final climb, and we were a bit alone out there. Into the headwind we knew it would be tough, especially with lots of guys chasing behind. In the end it was a great stage for me, and I want to thank my team-mates. I crashed at the Tour de France, and it was hard, but the team supported me, and at home I carried on training, restarted quietly, and have been feeling better and better, and here I am.”

Chris Froome (Team Sky) “If I had known at the beginning of the stage that this would have been the situation at the finish, I definitely would have signed to agree for that. Looking at the time gaps now, the GC is definitely taking more shape and it was only a 3km climb. I think I can definitely be happy with that and with the job my teammates did to set that up.”

“I’m really glad to have come through from the Tour and back in the shape I have here at La Vuelta. I learned a lot about my rivals. Esteban Chaves seems to be one of the strongest climbers. Obviously Alberto Contador did a good ride today. Tejay Van Garderen is still in the mix. Nicolas Roche is also up there so BMC have a couple options to play”.

“I was surprised to see Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru lose a bit of time, and Romain Bardet. But it’s a long race and I imagine it will be a different race once we get in the high mountains.”
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Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) “My sensations were better than over the last couple of days. But I can’t be euphoric because we have still got a lot of work to do. I have got to keep a cool head. I am reasonably happy – I am not thrilled. The crowd was very impressive and I am glad for them. It was better today, but it has got to stay like that. We will see if there are some interesting days to come for me. It is a long race. We can’t be thrilled, but it is good that I have got better sensations right now.”

Simon Yates (ORICA-SCOTT) “Well, I think everyone was actually a bit more concerned about GC placings. No one was really that committed to chasing. Sky were riding but we we just keeping our tempo. The final climb was difficult, as you can expect. The roads when they rise here are always very difficult. Really maximal effort. OK, I was a little bit behind, but OK.

“We’re looking at GC. The race is not only today, it’s for three weeks. We didn’t have much ambition to win the stage here, we wanted to do well, but we were really looking out for the three weeks.”

“The climb was similar to all of the climbs last year, a really fast run in and really steep. It was short, but when it’s short, it’s hard. Esteban had a good ride, Adam also, so we are there or there-abouts. I’m probably feeling better than I thought I would after the Tour de France. Of course, I’m not up there with the best guys right now but that’s OK, we’re still in the position to play the roles how we wanted from the start.”

Adam Yates (Orica Scott) “It’s been a long time since the Giro, I had a big training block with only Poland before this, but so far so good,” Adam Yates said. “I still feel a little bit rusty with so many short sharp climbs but I’m sure in the last week the legs will come. We have Esteban in a good position, my brother is not far behind either so we still have a lot of options to play in the days to come.”

Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data) – “It was quite hard to be in the breakaway today, spending over 4 hours in the wind and then having to finish on a very steep climb like that. There was a headwind most of the day but luckily, we were a lot of guys in the break so we could keep the gap over the peloton. On the 2nd last climb the attacking started, it wasn’t very steep so it didn’t suit me but I just followed as best I could. Having to chase those 2 guys on a flat road before the last steep climb was really difficult. I am very happy with 2nd position though, I am motivated to take another opportunity now.

Marc Soler (Movistar): “There wasn’t any cooperation between the ones in the group when Lutsenko and Haller attacked, I think that was the key for us not being able to contest the win. It makes you angry to see that a lack of agreement into a group prevents you from winning a Grand Tour stage, but things just went this way, and we’ll have to keep trying for the remainder of the race. My legs felt really better today. As I said before, I thought I would be getting into good form with some days of competition, and I’m feeling fine now. Let’s see how everything evolves for me, there’s still plenty to fight for in this Vuelta. We look at everything in this Vuelta as part of a learning process, and things are looking good so far.”

Matej Mohoric (UAE Emirates) “It was a very tough stage during a very warm day. I found myself in the breakaway at the start of the stage but unfortunately the stage was not well suited to my skill and characteristics. My strategy was to try and conserve as much energy as possible and to defend myself during the climbs. Towards the end of the stage I managed to be at the front of the split in the breakaway and tried to pace myself in the last climb to achieve the best result possible. Fourth is the best I could manage today, unfortunately I couldn’t get the win for the team. Fortunately for us there are many more stages where we can try for a stage win.”

Esteban Chaves ORICA-Scott: “Today was a really really hard stage but we are really happy,” the ORICA-SCOTT rider said. “We arrived in the top four for the GC guys on the first hard climb and this is a good signal for the future. I hate these climbs because you can’t take one pace. Yes, I am Colombian and sometimes I can be explosive but I prefer one pace. In climbs like this you rest and then boom, 20%, and rest again.”

“La Vuelta a Espana has just started now. I’m happy with the team we have here. We work without words, we (are) just looking and we know what is the next step. This is really special and I think this is what is happening in ORICA-SCOTT.”

Tejay van Garderen (BMC): “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.”

Stage 5
1. Alexey Lutsenko Astana Pro Team
2. Merhawi Kudus Dimension Data 0:42
3. Marc Soler Movistar Team 0:56
4. Matej Mohoric UAE Team Emirates 1:11
5. Alexis Gougeard AG2R La Mondiale 1:24

13. Alberto Contador Trek – Segafredo 4:31
14. Chris Froome Team Sky
15. Michael Woods Cannondale-Drapac
16. Esteban Chaves ORICA-Scott
17. Tejay van Garderen BMC Racing Team 4:39
18. Adam Yates ORICA-Scott 4:42
19. Nicolas Roche BMC Racing Team
20. Fabio Aru Astana Pro Team
21. Wilco Kelderman Team Sunweb
22. Ilnur Zakarin Team Katusha – Alpecin
23. David de la Cruz Quick-Step Floors 4:52
24. Warren Barguil Team Sunweb
25. Jack Haig ORICA-Scott
26. Simon Yates ORICA-Scott
27. Carlos Betancur Movistar Team
28. Sam Oomen Team Sunweb
29. Valerio Agnoli Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team 4:57
30. Vincenzo Nibali Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team
38. Domenico Pozzovivo AG2R La Mondiale 5:20
39. Romain Bardet AG2R La Mondiale

1. Chris Froome Team Sky
2. Tejay van Garderen BMC Racing Team 0:10
3. Esteban Chaves ORICA-Scott 0:11
4. Nicolas Roche BMC Racing Team 0:13
5. David de la Cruz Quick-Step Floors 0:23
6. Vincenzo Nibali Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team 0:36
7. Fabio Aru Astana Pro Team 0:49
8. Adam Yates ORICA-Scott 0:50
9. Simon Yates ORICA-Scott 1:09
10. Michael Woods Cannondale-Drapac 1:13
11. Wilco Kelderman Team Sunweb 1:28
12. Romain Bardet AG2R La Mondiale 1:37
13. Ilnur Zakarin Team Katusha – Alpecin 1:40
14. Warren Barguil Team Sunweb 1:43
15. Sam Oomen Team Sunweb 1:53
16. Carlos Betancur Movistar Team 1:56
17. Igor Anton Dimension Data 2:09
18. Jack Haig ORICA-Scott 2:19
19. Wout Poels Team Sky 2:23
20. Jetse Bol Manzana Postobon 2:29
21. Rui Costa UAE Team Emirates 2:35
22. Louis Meintjes UAE Team Emirates 2:38
23. Steven Kruijswijk Team LottoNL-Jumbo 2:42
24. Nelson Oliveira Movistar Team 2:45
25. Miguel López Astana Pro Team 2:52
26. Alberto Contador Trek – Segafredo 3:10



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