Tim Wellens took a commanding victory from a three-rider breakaway on stage five of the Vuelta a España 2020.
The Lotto-Soudal rider made it into the second large breakaway of the day and attacked with Thymen Arensman (Sunweb) to get clear.
Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) then bridged across to join the leading duo, setting up a three-up sprint on the sharp final ramp to the line, with Wellens triumphing in the final 100m.
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) sprinted home first in the peloton, while Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) crashed in the final turn, but didn’t lose time as it was inside the 3km marker.
How it happened
Stage five of the Vuelta a Espana 2020 was another testing climbing stage early in the race, covering 184.4km from Huesca to Sabiñago in the north eastern Aragon region of Spain.
The day opened with 100km of rolling terrain, but with mo categorised climbs until the Alto de Vio (13.3km at 4.7 per cent cent), which crested around 60km from the finish, followed shortly after by the Alto de Fanlo (6.3km at 4.5 per cent).
After an intermediate sprint point 30km from the line, the peloton then faced the final test – the 8.8km-long, 5 per cent average Alto de Petralba, then followed by a rapid downhill final 20km, before the road kick up into an uncategorised ramp in the closing kilometre.
The early section of the stage was defined by a 14-rider breakaway that went clear in the first five kilometres, which pulled out around a 30-second gap.
That group consisted of some strong riders capable of taking the stage, including Omar Fraile (Astana), Rui Cosa (UAE Team Emirates) and Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), with Michael Woods (EF Pro Cycling) later bridging across to make it 15 out front.
But the peloton wasn’t letting the break get away, and with just over 100km left of the stage the breakaway was caught, before the first categorised climb of the day had even started.
After a string of attacks on the lead-in to the climb, another 12-rider breakaway finally formed, including the likes of Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), Thyman Arensman (Sunweb), and Guillaume Martin.
Jumbo-Visma’s Sepp Kuss also made the escape, which caused some consternation in the bunch as the American was still high on GC.
On the first climb, the duo of Wellens and Arensman attacked the breakaway group and pulled out a considerable gap, with Martin attacking to bridge across.
The rest of the break was soon swept up, as Martin finally caught the leaders to set up a three-rider breakaway with 67km left to race.
That trio continued to extend their advantage over the peloton by the summit of the second categorised climb, holding 3-26 at the top, with 47km to race as they hit the descent to the final climb.
Back in the bunch, Jumbo-Visma and Ineos Grenadiers controlled the pace, but were happy to let the escapees continued to extend out to four minutes with 30km left to race.
Over the top of the final climb, the breakaway’s advantage had slipped down to three minutes, but with just the final descent to negotiate it looked as though the stage would go to either Arensmen, Wellens or Martin.
Into the final kilometre and the trio were still glued together, as Arensmen was the first blink as he tried to sprint clear on the flats, but he was chased down by Wellens.
Onto the final ramp and it was anyone’s race, but with 100 metres to race Wellens opened his sprint and broke clear to take the stage, with Martin second and Arensmen third.
The GC group then came into the final kilometre two minutes late, and a crash at the front of the bunch took down Dan Martin, who had been hoping to take bonus seconds at the line.
At the front of the peloton, Roglič sprinted home first.
Martin looked uninjured and finished the stage, not losing any time thanks to the 3km GC cut off.
Roglič leads the race ahead of Martin, with Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) third.
The Vuelta continues with another uphill finish on stage six, over 146.4km and finishing in Aramon Formigal.
Vuelta a España 2020, stage five: Huesca to Sabiñanigo (184.4km)
1. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
2. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis, at 4s
3. Thymen Arensman (Ned) Sunweb, at 12s
4. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 2-13
5. Felix Großschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
6. Alex Aranburu (Esp) Astana
7. George Bennett (NZl) Jumbo-Visma
8. Julien Simon (Fra) Total Direct Energie
9. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers
10. Dorian Godon (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, all at same time
General classification after stage five
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, in 20-52-31
2. Dan Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 5s
3. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, 13s
4. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar, at 32s
5. Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling, at 38s
6. Sepp Kuss, (USA) Jumbo-Visma, at 44s
7. Felix Großschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe at 1-17
8. Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott, 1-29
9. Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar, at 1-55
10. George Bennett (NZl) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-57