Rodriguez doubles up in Onati
GC contenders dominate the finish of the fifth stage
Last Updated: April 6, 2012 5:35pm
Joaquim Rodríguez: Just held off Samuel Sánchez in the sprint to the line
Joaquim Rodríguez held off fellow Spaniard Samuel Sánchez to land the fifth stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco after the top two in the general classification jumped clear of the pack heading into the finish in Onati.
Katusha's Rodríguez, winner of the fourth stage, maintained his nine seconds lead from Sánchez (Euskaltel) at the top of the GC, with Robert Kišerlovski getting some reward for a brave breakaway bid as he moved up to third overall after finishing in that position on the day.
The Astana rider had animated the final quarter of the 183 kilometres stage from Bera after kicking clear of a nine-man escape group which had formed 58km out when Davide Appollonio (Team Sky), Damiano Caruso (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD) were joined by a further six riders.
They held a gap of around 30 seconds which forced Katusha and Euskaltel to take up the chase and it was on the Alto de Asentzio, the last categorised climb of the day which came 25km from the finish, where Kišerlovski made his move.
He had a 40 seconds advantage with 20km to go and coming into the final 10km the gap appeared to be holding steady at around 30 seconds.
However a steep but unclassified ramp in the last 5km saw Rodríguez and Sánchez jump out of the pack and quickly chase down the Croatian.
That trio had it between them heading to the finish and it was Rodríguez who had the necessary reserves to edge out Sánchez, with Kišerlovski two seconds back in third.
Vasil Kiryienka (Movistar), Lars-Petter Nordhaug (Team Sky), Daniele Ratto (Liquigas) and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) were the next four riders home, a further three seconds back.
It all sets it up nicely for the closing 18.9km time trial on Saturday in Onati, with world time trial champion Tony Martin still very much in the equation 56 seconds back.