La Vuelta 5: Pim Ligthart Long Escape, Echelons and Sprint

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How white these houses! how violent that light! narrow streets fortunately are shady, but steep. And crowded. Easier to pass through for a solo rider, while behind the peloton must slow down, start again, painfully, in the roar.
Pim Ligthart and Tony Martin were in a break-away from km 0 but 66 km to go Martin has decided to wait for the peloton. So now Pim Ligthart is solo.
Behind they are controlling, the pace is high. Chris Froome takes 2 seconds at the intermediate sprint, he'll be 13th overall at end of the day. They are in the town of Teba. A banner across the road cheers up Alberto Contador. 
Just out of Teba, crosswind and golden wheat fields. Tinkoff-Saxo goes in front pulling and the peloton splits in three groups. Pim Ligthart is shortly caught by first group, including also Contador, Froome, Uran and Tom Boonen, Belkin Hofland, Gesink and Kelderman, Matthew, Valverde, John Degenkolb, Bouhanni, Monfort... Dan Martin and Julian Arredondo are caught behind, Garmin-Sharp is chasing.
32km to go, regular lines of fat trees. 23 km to go, the second group has joined the first one. Some flat finally and everybody want water! cars are busy reaching riders by dangerous manouvreslot of horning at the back of the peloton. The jury car watching close.
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Pic by Antoine Plouvin
15 km to go there is the last climb, a 3rd cat only but the Mountain Classification leader Bonet attacks and passes it first, with Caja Rural Pardilla. Then he stops. It's the finish already, you can't go. Ronda. Gilbert launches the sprint but Degenkolb grabs it again. 2nd Bouhanni, a wonderful Hofland 3rd. 4th place for TFR talented Jasper Stuyven and 5th for Paul Martens
Now check the GC to see if Tinkoff-Saxo's move had any effect. For sure somebody had to spend more energy than expected. For sure Alberto Contador was feeling good.
Nacer Bouahnni protested that He had got closed against the barrier but the Jury said no.

John Degenkolb:
“The guys worked hard today when it split to bring Warren back up to the front and also Tobias pulled all day then was in the front split to keep us out of the wind until the climb. At the end we made the best out of the situation with just three of us. I had to improvise after nearly missing a corner. I lost the wheel and had to close the gap but luckily I was strong enough to still sprint. The atmosphere is very relaxed now and it’s good not just for mine but also the team’s confidence. I’m looking forward now to helping Warren tomorrow and getting him in the best position for what will be a steep, hard finish. It will be role reversal, me getting bottles and ice for the guys.”

Moreno Hofland

“A podium finish in a grand tour, I’m pretty happy with that. I was in Paul Martens’ wheel and he dropped me off perfectly. With four hundred metres to go, we had to close a small gap, which was a small thing, but nonetheless I’m very happy with this result. I’ve shown I can finish on the podium, perhaps I can win someday, as well.”

TFR Jasper Stuyven
“It was downhill at the end and I stayed at the back just taking it easy until the last kilometer, where I knew I had to be in the front. There was a tricky chicane with less than a kilometer to go and I made it through that okay. BMC and Giant-Shimano were leading out, and I went on the left with Gilbert, and made my sprint. There were a few guys ahead, but I am happy with fourth.
Popo did a great job! When the split happened I was in his wheel and he took all the wind to keep me sheltered. Then he constantly went back for bottles for me, and I have to say I was very well hydrated to the end. He was not there in the finale anymore, but what he did for me earlier was huge.
I heard in my radio that Haimar was in the second group, but it was not for me and Popo to drop back to help.  We were hoping the rest of the team would get him back, and they did, and that was great to save his GC. So in the end it turned out to be a very good day for the team.”

Tinkoff-saxo neo Pro Michael Valgren:
"This is a huge deal for me and to do my first GT here with Alberto is an honor and a great experience. Like everyone else here, I’m suffering in the heat and right now, I’m taking the race one stage at a time. I’m aiming to support Alberto and if he could take a stage win in the mountains, it would be fantastic to be of any assistance. My personal goal is to get through the race and gain as much experience as possible”

BMC DS Valerio Piva:
"Nobody expected Tinkoff-Saxo would go full gas on the descent. Unfortunately, we had Cadel behind. But Garmin had Daniel Martin behind, so Cadel stayed just stayed in their wheel and the group came back. Fortunately, the gap was never more than 25 or 30 seconds."

Team Sky DS Dario Cioni:
"The guys did a good job todayWe wanted to be at the front all day as you never know what can happen. As it turned out it worked to our favour as most of the team were towards the front when Saxo made their move - so we had no trouble when it split apart. Froomey was able to take a couple of bonus seconds too which was great to see. We knew there was an opportunity with the small break and thought 'why not'. We gave it a go and it paid off.  Tomorrow the climbs begin and certainly we should learn a bit more about the climbing ability of the contenders. There won't be anywhere to hide which will make it very interesting."

1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 4:01:21  
2 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr  
3 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
4 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing  
5 Paul Martens (Ger) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
6 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
7 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
8 Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) IAM Cycling  
9 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN - Qhubeka  
10 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica Greenedge 17:35:05  
2 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:13  
3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:20  
4 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:00:24  
5 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale 0:00:26  
6 Jhoan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica Greenedge  
7 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Trek Factory Racing 0:00:29  
8 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:00:32  
9 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo  
10 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
11 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:00:34  
12 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team  
13 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:38  
14 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano 0:00:39  
15 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:41  
16 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 0:00:45  
17 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:47  
18 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Team Sky  
19 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp 0:00:48  

20 Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN - Qhubeka 0:00:49
1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 70 pts
2 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr 54  
3 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica Greenedge 50
Mountain JERSEY
1 Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Caja Rural - Seguros RGA 10 pts
2 Jerome Cousin (Fra) Team Europcar 9  
3 Amets Txurruka (Spa) Caja Rural - Seguros RGA 6
Combination JERSEY
1 Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN - Qhubeka 72 pts
2 Valerio Conti (Ita) Lampre-Merida 72  
3 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN - Qhubeka 89  
1 Belkin Pro Cycling Team 54:09:55  
2 BMC Racing Team 0:00:14  
3 Team Katusha 0:00:36  
4 Omega Pharma - Quick-Step 0:00:39  
5 Astana Pro Team 0:00:42  

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