The Vuelta a San Juan looks set to have a home victor after local rider Gonzalo Najar (S.E.P. de San Juan) upset the bigger-name teams and riders to win by nearly two minutes on the race’s queen stage.
Najar, who was in 14th place and more than a minute back from race leader Filippo Ganna (UAE Team Emirates) at the start of the day, was one of three S.E.P. de San Juan riders to attack at the base of the final climb of the Alto Colorado.
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Juan Paolo Dotti was the first to attack but was pulled back before Najar went off the front with team-mate Jose Rodriguez, who put in a huge turn before Najar took over the move.
Behind the chase was led by Medellin-Inter, working for veteran leader Oscar Sevilla, with Ganna left isolated and fighting to hold the wheels.
Ganna was able to limit his losses even as Sevilla pushed hard to chase down the stage leader, but there was no catch Najar who crossed the line nearly two minutes ahead of his Spanish rival to take a popular home stage win and move into the overall lead.
With two stages remaining, both of which are flat, Najar now holds the race lead by 1-02 over Sevilla, with Ganna 10 seconds further back in third.
Vuelta a San Juan 2018, stage five: San Martín to Alto de Colorado (169.5km)
1. Gonzalo Najar (Arg) S.E.P. de San Juan, in 4-16-26 4
2. Oscar Sevilla (Esp) Medellin, at 1-58
3. Rodolfo Torres (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, at 2-05
4. Ignacio de Jesus Prado (Mex) Canel’s-Specialized, at 2-15
5. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal, at 2-23
6. Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Movistar Team, at same time
7. Filippo Ganna (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at same time
8. Cristian Camilo Muñoz Lancheros (Col) Coldeportes Zenu Sello Rojo, at 2-52
9. Dayer Quintana (Col) Movistar Team, at 2-57
10. Darwin Atapuma (Col) UAE Team Emirates, at same time
General classification after stage five
1. Gonzalo Najar (Arg) S.E.P. de San Juan, in 15-47-52
2. Oscar Sevilla (Esp) Medellin, at 1-02
3. Filippo Ganna (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-22
4. Rodolfo Torres (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, at 1-52
5. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 2-11
6. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal, at 2-12
7. Omar Mendoza (Col) Medellin, at 2-22
8. Dayer Quintana (Col) Movistar Team, at 3-09
9. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Bahrain-Merida, at 3-30
10. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Quick-Step Floors, at 3-31