A seemingly innocuous stage with the peloton tra-la-la-ing along in anticipation of a sprint finish turned to chaos in the last 20km. A crash that should not have happened followed by a change of wind direction saw the bunch shatter into pieces and many GC riders in panic stations. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) kicked early and held his speed in the reduced bunch sprint, edging out LottoNL-Jumbo’s Danny van Poppel with a fast finishing Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) zooming from nowhere to claim third. Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) made the first group on the road and stays in the red jersey. His team mate Thibaut Pinot and Sunweb’s Wilco Kelderman were not so lucky, coming in almost two minutes behind.
Rider of the Race
My award goes to a rider who was last man over the line on stage 5, started today denying rumours about exactly why he was fined yesterday (clue, it was NOT for fighting with his team DS) and finished it on the top step of a Grand Tour podium for the first time since 2014. What a difference 24 hours make, let’s give a surprise VeloVoices welcome to the man in Cofidis red Nacer Bouhanni.
The French fast man with a penchant for boxing has a habit of courting controversy – not all of it deserved. Yesterday he and his DS were fined for taking an illegal feed in the closing kilometres and yet found themselves denying a news story from Spanish media that it was for fighting.
It certainly motivated him and his team. They did an immense job keeping him safe and in the right place in those frantic last kilometres and he repaid them with a superbly timed sprint. Interestingly his last Grand Tour victory came on a similar echelon-ridden stage at the Vuleta. It was heartening to see a Bouhanni stomach-full-of-anger used to such great effect.
They said that I had argued with my director and that’s completely false. But I definitely wanted the win, I got one four years ago, and I did it again in the echelons, on a tough stage as well. It’s amazing that I did it all over again.
I know fellow VeloVoice Euan will be thrilled to see Cofidis riding with such style. A Grand Tour victory and Luis Angel Mate gaining more mountain points to tighten his grip on that gorgeous blue polka dot jersey.
It’s why we love the Vuelta…
Unmarked bollards in the middle of the road
The speed was already picking up as GC and sprinters teams alike jostled for the front positions when the peloton encountered a pair of movable bollards in the middle of the road after a sharp right hand bend. With no warning from the usual pennants and whistles there was little they could do except hope to come through unscathed. It’s a situation that riders should never have to face.
The crash caused the first splinter in the peloton as the leading group kept their pace and forged ahead. Their advantage grew as the course changed direction and the headwind suddenly switched to a side-wind and fans were treated to some great echelon action. LottonNL-Jumbo’s George Bennett originally missed the cut but was brought back to the front. Kelderman made the front group but suffered an ill timed mechanical.
Groupama-FDJ have kept Molard in red, but what of Pinot finishing at +1:45mins? Well, I’d bet he’s up for some magnificent stomping when the mountains gets fiercer, even if the team say they have other plans.
In one of the more bizarre happenings, more riders crashed at the finish as the wash from helicopter rotors blew loose fencing into the road.
One thing is for sure, the Vuelta does like to serve the spice when we are least expecting it.
Wait, who’s in the break???
No one was surprised to see three riders form the break of the day so early in a sprint stage. With two climbs on the menu the presence of Mate in his polka dot jersey was expected, as was someone from wildcard team BH-Burgos (take a bow Jorge Cubero). However, the name that caused twitter to burst into life was BMC’s Richie Porte.
His team were all for it…
It gave commentators something to talk about…
I LOVE this one…
It’s fair to say Richie is having a torrid time in Spain this year but I’m pleased to see he’s kept his sense of humour. Although I am slightly worried he seems to think he’s racing in Italy.
1 Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) 3:58:35
2 Danny van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo) same time
3 Elia Viviani Quick Step Floors) s/t
4 Simone Consonni (UAE-Team Emirates) s/t
5 Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) s/t
1 Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) 18:27:40
2 Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) +0:43
3 Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-hansgrohe) +0:48
4 Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) +0:51
5 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:53
6 Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) +1:11
7 Tony Gallopin (Ag2r La Mondiale) +1:14
8 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) same time
9 Steven Kruiswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) +1:18
10 Enric Mas (Quick Step Floors) +1:23
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey: Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ)
Points jersey: Michal Kwiatkowski(Sky)
Climber’s jersey: Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis)
Combined jersey: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
Team classification: Astana
Header: © Tim de Waale Getty