Volta a Catalunya: Luka Mezgec wins stage five as Joaquim Rodriguez retains overall lead
Last Updated: 29/03/14 6:01pm
Luka Mezgec sprinted to his third victory of the Volta a Catalunya on stage five as Joaquim Rodriguez retained the overall lead.
Mezgec (Giant-Shimano) followed up his wins on stages one and two with a routine triumph in Valls, beating Julian Alaphilippe (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) into second place and Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r-La Mondiale) into third.
All of the contenders for overall victory finished in the peloton, meaning Rodriguez (Katusha) maintains his four-second lead in the general classification over Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), with Chris Froome (Team Sky) remaining 17 seconds back in sixth.
Contador was active in the closing stages of the day, first mounting an unsuccessful attack on the final climb and then taking part in the bunch sprint in an attempt to claim bonus seconds to close his gap to Rodriguez. He narrowly missed out with a sixth-place finish, just ahead of Britain's Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), who was an impressive seventh.
Stage five was the longest of the race, at 222.2km, but was largely downhill as the riders descended out of the Pyrenees and back towards the Mediterranean coast.
A strong eight-man breakaway moved clear and looked to have a chance of staying away to the finish, but when Marcus Burghardt (BMC) and Georg Preidler (Giant-Shimano) decided to push on alone, the group’s cumulative power was lost and the last of them were caught with 27km to go.
Heading on to the day’s final climb, the category-two Alt de Lilla, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) and then Lieuwe Westra (Astana) both tried to mount attacks but were swiftly brought back by a vigilant chasing pack.
Contador also failed with a move, but Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) managed to escaped heading over the summit and opened up a decent gap on the descent down the other side.
However, with the sprint trains mustering behind, it was a futile effort and the Dane was eventually caught with 5km to go. That set up a bunch finish and Mezgec had little trouble in confirming his status as the dominant sprinter at the race.
Stage 5 result
1 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Giant-Shimano, 5:16:00
2 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, same time
3 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
4 Paul Martens (Ger) Belkin, st
5 Michel Kreder (Ned) Wanty-Groupe Gobert, st
6 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo, st
7 Adam Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEdge, st
8 Kevin Reza (Fra) Europcar, st
9 Tosh van der Sande (Bel) Lotto Belisol, st
10 Davide Vigano (Ita) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, st
1 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha, 23:03:34
2 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo, +4secs
3 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC, +7
4 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +10
5 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, same time
6 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, +17
7 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp, +18
8 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +26
9 Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Shimano, +42
10 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Trek Factory racing, +48