Mikel Landa (Astana) rode to victory on the penultimate stage of the Tour of the Basque Country, attacking from a small lead group to the summit of the Alto de Aia.
The Spaniard had been part of a 30-man breakaway that had been allowed to distance the peloton by over four minutes earlier in the stage, but found himself as part of a lead fivesome of Tom Danielson (Cannondale-Garmin), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) and teammate Rein Taaramae after split to pieces on the first ascent over the top of the climb.
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The leaders then held out a gap of over 1-10 on the chasers as they looped round for another steep ascent (allbeit on a slightly different road) of the category two Aia, before the gap began to tumble and Gallopin and Taaramae slipped away from the front group.
Wellens was the first to attack out of the remaining three, with Danielson unable to respond, but it was Landa who made the decisive move on the steep slopes before taking the short, flat rode to the finish for victory on stage five in Pais Vasco.
There was also a lot of action in the GC battle happening behind the break, with Michal Kwiatkowski attacking on the first ascent of the Aia to join his Etixx – Quick-Step teammates Tony Martin and David de la Cruz, who had been part of the intial 30-man break.
It looked like a piece of tactical genius by Etixx as Kwiatkowski tried to claw back some time in the GC. But the world champion was unable to hold the 30 second gap he’d created back to the top three overall, Sergio Henao (Team Sky), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar), being caught by the peloton on the final climb.
The biggest changes in GC came from an attack by Britain’s Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), who finished three seconds ahead of Henao and Rodriguez to propel himself up to third overall. Quintana was unable to follow the response by the latter pair to Yates’s attack, losing twelve seconds to fall to fourth.
Colombian Henao remains in the yellow jersey ahead of tomorrow’s hilly individual time trial on the sixth and final stage of the 2015 Tour of the Basque Country.
Tour of the Basque Country stage five, Eibar – Aia (156km):
1. Mikel Landa (Esp) Team Katusha 4:06:01
2. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at 3 seconds
3. Tom Danielson (USA) Cannondale-Garmin, at 16 seconds
4. Rein Taaramae (Est) Astana, at 28 seconds
5. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Soudal, at 38 seconds
6. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdge, at 53 seconds
7. Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Team Sky, at 56 seconds
8. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha, st
9. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin, at 1-05
10. Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
1. Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Team Sky 21:20:48
2. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha, st
3. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge, at 7 seconds
4. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team, at 12 seconds
5. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana , at 22 seconds
6. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha, st
7. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha, at 28 seconds
8. Jon Izagirre (Esp) Movistar, st
9. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC, at 36 seconds
10. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, st