Rodriguez Takes Tour of the Basque Country Stage Five

April 6, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Joaquin Rodriguez of Katusha grimaces as he sprints to the finish in Stage Four of the Vuelta al País Vasco, April 5. The Katusha rider won Stage Five on April 6. (Katushateam.com)
Joaquin Rodriguez of Katusha grimaces as he sprints to the finish in Stage Four of the Vuelta al País Vasco, April 5. The Katusha rider won Stage Five on April 6. (Katushateam.com)

Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez made a late attack win Stage Five of the Vuelta al País Vasco, keeping his race leader’s yellow jersey and entering the final time trial with an advantage of nine seconds over second-placed Samuel Sanchez of Euskatel-Euskadie.

“Today it was a crazy stage,” Rodriguez told velonation.com. “The group kept an incredible pace, many riders had an interest in the stage and general classification: in fact, the breakaway started quite late in the race.

“I did my best because I knew I could win and, most of all, I had to: I felt strong, I wanted to keep the leader’s jersey and gain as many seconds as I could before tomorrow’s individual time trial. In the last kilometers I left the responsibility to Sanchez: I think he has some chance to win the overall standings.”

Sanchez finished second in the stage, barely a foot behind the Katusha rider; right behind them rode Astana’s Robert Kiserlovski, who elevated himself to third in the General Classification, 26 seconds down.

Losers on the day were RadioShack’s Chris Horner, who fell from third to tenth in GC, losing 23 seconds and almost all hope of an overall win, and Garmin’s Ryder Hesjedal, who dropped from 28 to 40 seconds behind the leader, also probably forfeiting his chance for a GC win.

Rodriguez should prevail in the Stage Six time trial, and win the General Classification—the course contains enough hills that his explosive climbing ability should give him the edge.

Hard Rain, Hard Day  

Most of Stage Five, 183 km from Bera to Onati, was run in hard rain, and after the two previous two climbing stages, this stage was sure to be hard on the legs. With five categorized climbs: Cat 3 Gurutze, 2.6 kilometers at 4.23%, Cat 3 Meagas 3.8 at 3.21%, Cat 2 Elosua, 9 km at 5.7%, Cat 3 Deskarga 3 km at8.23%, and Cat 2 Asentzio, 8 kms at 4.37%, plus a short, nasty uncategorized hill the final three kilometers, the stage couldn’t have been designed better to test the riders.

After numerous failed attacks and short escapes, what seemed to be the break of the day formed about 80 km into the race. Sixteen riders— Jorge Azanza and Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadin) David Lopez (Movistar,) Hernani Broco (Caja Rural,) Jens Voigt (RadioShack,) Eduard Vorganov and Yury Trofimov (Katusha,) Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) Tanel Kangert (Astana), Cayetano José Sarmiento ( Liquigas), Michael Albasini (GreenEdge,) Adriano Malori and Diego Ulissi (Lampre,) Fabian Wegmann (Garmin,) Benoît Vaugrenard (FDJ,) and Kevin De Weert (Omega) opened a gap of as much as four minutes.

This group stayed away for about 20 km before the peloton, led by Sky, caught them up on the slopes of the Cat 3 Deskarga. After the descent, another group, this time of nine riders, broke free of the peloton.
Davide Appollonio (Sky,) Damiano Caruso and Dominik Nerz (Liquigas,) Evgeny Petrov and Robert Kiserlovski (Astana,) David Arroyo (Movistar,) Marco Pinotti (BMC, Adriano Malori (Lampre,) and Jesus Hernandez (Saxo Bank.)

On the final climb, the 8-km trek up Asentzio, Kiserlovski attacked the break, opening a gap asd great as one minute before the peloton began pulling back seconds. Twenty km from the finish the Astana rider had an advantage of 45 seconds. Kiserlovski gambled that he could open enough of a gap to stay away for the final thirty kilometers

A few riders—Nicky Sorensen (Saxo Bank,) Marco Pinotti, and Adriano Malori tried to bridge but by ten km left, had only a five-second edge. Kiserlovski managed to keep the gap above 30 seconds all the way to the final hill.

This final climb nearly broke Kiserlovski; he labored visibly, as the gasp dropped to 15 seconds. When the peloton hit this climb, race leader Joaquim Rodriguez made his move, attacking with second-placed Samuel Sanchez on his wheel.

It took this pair just 500 meters to catch the struggling Astana rider, but Kiserlovski wasn’t done yet—he pushed on, catching the two leaders just past the one-kilometer banner.

The final sprint was between the two GC leaders, Rodriguez and Sanchez—Kiserlovski was happy just to hang on. Rodriguez launched first and simply powered away; Sanchez almost caught him a few dozen meters from the line, then paused a bit, gathering his energy, to unleash a final mighty burst of speed.

It wasn’t enough. Rodriguez stretched across the line a foot ahead of Sanchez, winning the stage and keeping his yellow jersey.

Vuelta al País Vasco Stage 5

 

Rider

Team

Time

1

Joaquin Rodriguez

Katusha

4:27:16

2

Samuel Sanchez

Euskatel-Euskadie

+0

3

Robert Kiserlovski

Astana

+0

4

Vasili Kiryienka

Movistar

+5

5

Lars Petter Nordhaug

Sky

+5

6

Daniele Ratto

Liquigas

+5

7

Michele Scarponi

Lampre

+7

8

Damiano Cunego

Lampre

+7

9

Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa

Movistar

+7

10

Jean-Christophe Peraud

Ag2R

+7

General Classification after Stage 5

 

Rider

Team

Time

1

Joaquin Rodriguez

Katusha

20:29:18

2

Samuel Sanchez

Euskatel-Euskadie

+9

3

Robert Kiserlovski

Astana

+26

4

Lars Petter Nordhaug

Sky

+33

5

Michele Scarponi

Lampre

+33

6

Sergio Luis Henao

Sky

+34

7

Jurgen Van Den Broeck

Lotto-Belisol

+35

8

Ryder Hesjedal

Garmin-Barracuda

+40

9

Damiano Cunego

Lampre

+40

10

Christopher Horner

RadioShack-Nissan

+44