Stage 5: Logroño to Logroño, 168.0km
John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) powered past Daniele Bennati (RadioShack-Nissan) with apparent ease to take his second sprint victory in this year’s Vuelta. Gianni Meersman (Lotto-Belisol) rounded out the podium. Degenkolb now takes over the points jersey from yesterday’s stage winner Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE) while Joaquim Rodriguez finished safely in the pack to retain the leader’s red jersey.
Andalucia’s Javier Chacon, who was in a break on Sunday’s stage – also won by Degenkolb – set off in the first few metres of the stage all on his lonesome. The peloton were happy to leave him out to dry in the hot sunshine. Very quickly his lead went out to 12 minutes at which point Degenkolb’s Argonauts started to apply some pressure and, within just 10km, the gap was back below ten minutes and, with assistance from other teams including Caja Rural – anxious to share the limelight – they slowly reeled him back in with under 30km remaining. The pace then increased with teams jostling for supremacy and position but there was so much movement in the bunch that 1988 Vuelta winner Sean Kelly was moved to remark that they were “all over the shop”. [That’s a technical term, I assume? – Ed]
For the first 10km of the last lap, Omega Pharma-Quick Step drove the pace, presumably for Gert Steegmans, but it was a case of too much too soon. They were then swamped by a variety of teams, including those of the first three finishers who managed to keep their form and position to drop off their sprinters a couple of hundred metres from the finish line. Here’s an interview with today’s stage winner:
VeloVoices rider of the day
It has to be 27-year old neo-pro Javier Chacon, who spent pretty much the entire stage out on his own with only his team car for company fortified by ice packs on the neck, copious bidons and even the odd can of Coke. [Other carbonated soft drink brands are available … Ed.]
He’s more noted for his time-trialling ability, winning the under-23 Spanish national title back in 2006. He has a modest palmares that includes a win this year in a stage of the Tour of Azerbaijan. Not unnaturally he was voted most combative rider of the day and earned plenty of valuable airtime for his sponsor.
After two eventful stages, today the peloton found itself riding eight times around a relatively flat 21km cicuit of Logrono in the heart of Rioja country. You may recall that Monday’s stage finished just up the road in Viana while yesterday’s stage started close by at the Faustino V bodega – these wine boys have money to burn.
The Spanish are inordinately fond of circuits although they’re generally hillier. Everyone watches the riders pass by and then they retreat into the nearest bar, of which there are many, to await the peloton’s return. There was a good crowd in the centre of town, most of them wisely spectating from the shady side of the road.
Today’s stage afforded the contenders a bit of a rest after two eventful days. Only the points jersey changed hands. There were no incidents – although there was plenty of further discussion of yesterday’s incident – nothing worthy of any comment, apart from Degenkolb’s win. A bit of a snooze-fest all round.
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