Primož Roglič (LottoNL-Jumbo) extended his lead at the top of the general classification at the Tour of the Basque Country as Omar Fraile (Astana) won stage five.
Roglič had to face numerous attacks from Mikel Landa (Movistar) as the Spanish team took control of the first of two back-to-back mountain stages, but was the equal of Landa as only he and Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) were able to follow over the final climb.
Those accelerations not only dropped the likes of Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors), who ended up losing more than two minutes, but also swept up the early break, including Fraile who an effort-free run to the line.
Fraile eventually hit the front through the final corner and comfortably sprinted away to take the stage win, while Roglič finished in second to take the time bonus and extend his lead at the top of the general classification with just one stage remaining.
How it happened
Stage five of the Tour of the Basque Country saw the peloton take on a 164km route to Eibar with three classified climbs, with a large break of 13 riders going up the road.
In the move were José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), Pierre Latour (Ag2r La Mondiale), Omar Fraile (Astana), José Herrada and Daniel Teklehaimanot (Cofidis,) Mark Padun (Bahrain-Merida), Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe), Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto Soudal), Michael Albasini and Carlos Verona (Mitchelton-Scott), Alex Howes (EF Education First-Drapac), Jonathan Castroviejo (Team Sky), Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) and Matteo Bono (UAE Team Emirates).
That group enjoyed a maximum lead of around 3-30 before Movistar seized control on the first categorised climb of the day, slimming the peloton down to around 40 riders and slashing a minute off the break’s lead.
However by the time the break reached the base of the penultimate climb of the day with 34km remaining that gap had crept back up to 3-30 before Movistar once again moved to the front to try to isolate race leader Primož Roglič (LottoNL-Jumbo).
Movistar’s pace caused chaos at the back on the bunch before Mikel Landa launched an attack that put a large number of riders in trouble.
The next attack came from Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) which caused more trouble as only Landa and Roglič were able to follow while the likes of Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), and Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First-Drapac) were dropped.
Meanwhile the climb also slimmed the breakaway down, with only Verona, Fraille, Herrada, and Van der Sande remaining by the final climb.
By the base of the climb the break’s lead over the yellow jersey was down to below a minute, and only fell further as Landa attacked and kept the pace high while Izagirre and Roglič looked pretty comfortable in the wheels.
Seeing the gap come down Verona attacked off the front of the race and led over the crest of the climb with a 28-second lead over Landa, Izagirre, and Roglič, who had also swept up Padun, Fraile, and Herrada.
Padun, working for team-mate Izagirre, led down the descent and did an excellent job to catch Verona, while also keeping the gap to the chasing group of other GC contenders locked at just over a minute.
However on the final few kilometres as the road gently climbed up the valley towards Eibar the gap slowly went out as Padun worked particularly hard for Izagirre and led the group into the final kilometre.
Izagirre was the first to attack, but Fraile had been resting in the wheels for the final few kilometres and kicked hard out of the final corner to take victory.
Meanwhile Roglič’s second place and Julian Alaphilippe losing more than two minutes saw the Slovenian strengthen his grip on the yellow jersey with just one stage to go.
Tour of the Basque Country 2018, stage five: Vitoria-Gasteiz to Eibar (164km)
1. Omar Fraile (Esp) Astana
2. Primož Roglič (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo, in 3-53-59
3. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Bahrain-Merida
4. Carlos Verona (Esp) Mitchelton-Scott
5. Jose Herrada (Esp) Cofidis
6. Mikel Landa (Esp) Movistar, all at same time
7. Mark Padun (Ukr) Bahrain-Merida, at 15 secs
8. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Astana, at 1-27
9. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates
10. Jai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb, all at same time
General classification after stage five
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo, in 17-35-19
2. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Bahrain-Merida, at 2-13
3. Mikel Landa (Esp) Movistar, at 2-17
4. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors, at 2-55
5. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at 3-06
6. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 3-21
7. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Astana, at 3-30
8. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, at 3-41
9. David De La Cruz (Esp) Team Sky, at 3-49
10. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac, at 3-57