Vuelta a España Stage 5 Preview

Another sprint stage, another 2,500m of vertical gain. The climbing is guaranteed, the sprint isn’t and today could tempt more breakaways after yesterday’s success.

King for a day: the stage win for Ben King and big deal for him and his team, his first grand tour stage and World Tour level win; their first World Tour win this year. The breakaway stayed away and before the final climb King, Nikita Stalnov of Astana and Jelle Wallays of Lotto-Soudal jumped away. Wallays looked too big for the looming climb and was quickly dropped as King and Stalnov both looked on the limit as they tried to hold off a chasing Pierre Rolland but King was the more energetic, towing on the flat sections and he jumped Stalnov on the final rise to the line to win. Behind Simon Yates went clear from the GC contenders, it’s becoming a trade mark move to go earlier than we might imagine and then tuck into a solo time trial. Emmanuel Buchmann also showed and his late surge saw him almost reach Yates Otherwise Michał Kwiatkowski stays in red but only had David de la Cruz for support on the final climb and the Spaniard was struggling at times, as was Fabio Aru.

The Route: 188km and over 2,500m of vertical gain. This is a lumpy day culminating in the Alto El Marchal, the final climb of the day which is a long and gradual ascent with typical gradients of 4-5% which is enough to drop some sprinters.

The Finish: a flat finish in Roquetas de Mar, these days the host for the early season one-day race the Clásica de Almería but it’s not the same finish. There’s a straight 4km into town and then under the 1km banner there’s a left hand turn on a roundabout and then another with 650m to go and then a straight run to the line on the sea front.

The Contenders: sprint or breakaway? The sprinters have to seize their chances and today several of those in the race will fancy their chances. Elia Viviani (Quick Step) can cope with a climb and Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) are even better, the latter unshipped his chain in the sprint two days ago and wants revenge for the mishap.

Who to pick from a breakaway? The final climb means the likes of Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) can barge away, Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Joey Rosskopf and Alessandro de Marchi (BMC Racing) are also random picks.

Elia Viviani
Nacer Bouhanni, Matteo Trentin
Sagan, Nizzolo

Weather: 35°C but cloudy a strong chance of rain in time for the finish which matters as a summer shower can make urban Spanish roads resemble a skating rink

Tune in: the final climb starts at 4.10pm CEST and the finish is forecast for 5.10pm.

31 thoughts on “Vuelta a España Stage 5 Preview”

  1. Dare I say it, buts Yates is looking good – probably even more so relative to the rest of the field. Seems to be one of the weaker fields of recent years.

    • Yes he looks good but surely needs to avoid a situation where his ill-equipped team is obliged to defend for multiple stages. Discretion Simon please.

      As for the weak field, who is missing : Dumoulin, Thomas, Froome, Bardet… It looks a splendid climbing field to me and the Vuelta is maybe less suited to rouleur/grimpeur types than some GTs.

      • If we look at the last 3 editions, its also missing Landa and Contador.

        And it’s not just who is missing but the apparent form (I state “apparent” acknowledging we are just at stage 5) of those that are here. The form of Nibali, Quintana and Aru doesn’t appear to be at the same level of what it was in previous editions, not to mention Porte (not referencing previous editions here).

        • I dont think Quintana deserves to be in the list above he’s not shown any weakness in form so far, his TT performance was above par. He hasnt made any time up on any GC rivals but we havent had a long steep climb yet.

    • One of the most bizarre post race interviews I have ever seen. Seemed embarrassed about what turned out to be quite a smart move even this early in the tour.

      Hope he hasn’t got a giant headworm

      • I think he was a little bit sheepish because apparently the team’s tactics are to do the reverse of what they normally do – they want to start conservatively and ride more aggressively as the Vuelta progresses. In the past they’ve started strongly in GC and faded – Yates’ Giro this year and Chavez at the Giro 2016 and Vuelta 2015. So he’s effectively gone against Matt White’s orders and is probably expecting some harsh words from his DS – despite the fact he gained 25 secs. I agree it did make for a very weird interview though!

    • Don’t be saying its a “weak field” Utah. we’ll never hear the end of it. But you are right. Injury, illness, heat, simple lack of ability. Its a race of crocks. Thomas, Dumoulin and Froome could probably have been the podium here too.

      Simon Yates stands out though. I expect him to win.

  2. Refreshing to see (a) team(s) other than Sky lining up as the strongest and willing to take control.

    EF Education now the only WT team without a WT win. Oh well, at least they have TvG to help next year.

  3. Love watching Yates ride but does he go to early? Had his 20 sec gap almost immediately then was sat out in the wind on his own for a couple more km.

  4. It did seem a bit odd that Michal Kwiatkowski was alone for the last 8km or so. Sky do have a fairly good team even if not at TdF standards. I was guessing this was deliberate strategy to save energy for later in the race. Maybe they are being affected by the heat?

    Simon Yates seemed back to his Giro form, lets see if he and his team have learned from the experience. They do not want to be in a position where they are trying to control the race, there is a long way to go, save energy and pick your moment. Riding off the front is great for those watching but not always the best way to win a three week race.

    I guess the GC folk will now be in energy saving mode until Sunday.

  5. What has happened to Aru in the last 18 months. Maybe he will not be the consistent GC contender he promised to be early in his career. Specialising on 1 weeks and stages is still very respectable.

  6. I predict a busy opening kilometres as every non-GC team in search of a stage win will have taken heart from the breakaway staying away yesterday while the GC teams will be happy for a quiet day.

  7. Of course it is way to soon to say that Yates has failed to learn from his mistakes, but surely it is tempting. Giro and Vuelta may be different races, but three weeks are still three weeks.

  8. “ 188km and over 2,500m of vertical gain.“

    It would seem we have a Vuelta ‘Roadbook Special’. According to Emil Axelgaard, and he’s normally correct, the gain is over 3,100m. As you point out, it’s hot again. Might be one for the break.

    • That ship needs caulking since his back fracture. He’s in it for the miles, not the wins. I predict a similar approach to his Dauphine i.e. sit back and let the action happen, before pulling out for the World Championships.

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