Bradley Wiggins (Sky) formed part of a spectacular day-long break in stage five of the Tour of Andalusia in which local team Andalusia-Cajasure attempted – unsuccessfully – to dislodge Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) from the overall lead.
Almost as soon as the hilly stage six from Torrox to Antequera had got underway, on the first climb of the day, Wiggins broke away with Bryce Feillu (Vancansoleil), Marco Manzano (Lampre) and overall challenger Angel Vicioso (Andalusia-Cajasur).
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The move gained nearly five minutes mid-way through the 161 kilometre stage, making Vicioso race leader on the road.
But even after the advantage was slashed to around two minutes at one point, the Andalusia-Cajasur team did not give up. Instead they bridged across another two riders – Jose Angel Gomez Marchante and Antonio Piedra – and reinforced the break again.
The Spanish team’s ultra-aggressive strategy almost worked. However, the final climb of the day, a first category ascent of El Torcal saw the break’s advantage dip again, and the move was finally reeled in with around 20 kilometres to go.
By this point there were just 40 riders in the front group, including Rogers. The overall was decided, but Sky piled on the pressure to see if Simon Gerrans could improve on his third place in the uphill finish on stage four to Benahavis.
However, Francisco Ventoso (Carmiooro) made a long charge for the finish line in Antequera, and although Gerrans made a powerfull counter-challenge, the Spaniard just fended off the Australian for the Portuguese team’s second win of the race. Rogers took third and the overall victory ahead of Omega-Pharma’s Jurgen Van Den Broeck.
Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) was one of 20 riders who abandoned mid-way through the rainsoaked stage, at the first feed.
Britain’s top finisher was Steve Cummings (Team Sky), 22nd on the final stage and a creditable 15th overall after a solid week of riding.
Cavendish’s next race will be Tirreno-Adriatico whilst Wiggins will be taking part in the Tour of Murcia. After his strong rides in Andalusia, the five-day stage race could see the Londoner back in the action again.
Tour of Andalusia 2010: Stage five
1. Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Carmiooro 161.4km in 4-20-05
2. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Team Sky
3. Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia at 2secs
4. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank
5. Jens Voigt (Ger) Saxo Bank
6. Simon Geschke (Ger) Skil-Shimano
7.Sergio Pardilla (Spa) Carmiooro
8. Manuel Vazquez (Spa) Andalucia-Cajasur
9. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
10. Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil all same time.
22. Steve Cummings (GB) Team Sky at 9secs
55. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky at 5-09
DNF Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Columbia
Final overall classification
1. Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia
2. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 19secs
3. Sergio Pardilla (Spa) Carmiooro at 30secs
4. Jens Voigt (Ger) Saxo Bank at 31secs
5. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank at 35secs
6. Maxime Monfort (Bel) HTC-Columbia at 38secs
7. Gustav Larsson (Swe) Saxo Bank at 44secs
8. Manuel Vazquez (Spa) Andalucia-Cajasur at 46secs
9. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Milram at 46secs
10. Thomas Lovkvist (Swe) Team Sky at 50secs
15. Steve Cummings (GB) Team Sky at 1-34
48. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky at 13-58
Bradley Wiggins featured in the day’s big escape