Ruta del Sol 5

A moved morning in La Rura del Sol with several hills and several breaks. A fluid situation.
First climb: Alto de Peñas Blancas (1a. Cat). 13 riders have 40" and among them there are also Swift, Lobato, Bouhanni, Van der Sande, Boaro, Grellier, Lemoine, Curvers and Baugnies. 
Second climb: Puerto del Espino (1a. Cat.) the first break is caught but a new one forms. They can't go away and atop the peloton is all together in a along line.
Matter of time and a new break-away is on his way: Ruben Fernández, Tim Wellens and Simon Geschke get a gap.
3rd climb: Puerto Espíritu Rojo. The gap is 1'22". The peloton keeps the break on control.
55 km to go a crash in the break brings down Fernandez and Geschke. Alto Peñas Blancas: Tim Wellens is leading solo but 48 km to go his advantage is just  47"  while Roche and Baugnies got off the front on pursue.
How green it looks this Spanish forest after the rocky nothing of Oman! The road heads down and Wellens is decending fast. Still his gap is deacreasing and the chasers only 22'' behind.
38 km to go Wellens almost falls! impeded by a motorbike? more to come. Fortunately he manages to ride off road and back. Roche and Baugnies join.
They are aproaching for the second and last time the climb of Alto Peñas Blancas. Glory is waiting atop.
15 km to go the gap is only 15". One more km and they are caught.
Break over, race on: a showdown on the last climb! Jelle Vanendert attacks but is caught. All together 12 km to go.
Vasil Kiryienka is pulling and riders get dropped. Only around 25 are left with 11 km to go.
8 km to go only 21 riders are left in the front group. Dani Moreno attacks. Neutralised. Nieve is pulling now: Sky is making the race! Only 11 riders are left in the front group. 6 km to go Valverde attacks. BMC is leading the chase. Bauke Mollema is there as well as Wout Poels.
3.5 km to go Valverde has got 1' adavantage. Only van Garderen, Majka and Mollema are still chasing.
Last km: Bauke Mollema attacks! In front Valverde already won: stage and jersey.

Alejandro Valverde:
"It's the most exciting victory of the four I've got here. It's true that the previous three were also beautiful, but I was feeling like this one was going away from my hands day by day. I felt comfortable all stage today, despite the route being so demanding - which also was for me. The team was also doing well and wanted to try and move the race, and we profited from several other teams who wished to go on the attack to make a fast race so we could get a chance to leave Van Garderen back into the last climb. We launched several of our guys into the early moves, with Rubén into a more serious break and Dani in the finale, and when I saw the others struggling a bit halfway through the last Peña Blancas, I knew that I had to go on a long attack if I wanted to win the GC.
Last year in the Vuelta I suffered more than today, even as I did worse than today. I knew the climb, went again to look at it this week before the race, and knew how to tackle it. I always had time references from the team car against my rivals during the attack, and wasn't comfortable with that gap, so I just kept going and going on full steam until the finishing line. I knew I was well, but didn't feel I could gain so much space today. I was a bit lucky, also due to the fact that they changed the route just before the race to add that second ascent of Peñas Blancas - it granted me a bigger chance.
I trained well over the winter; with good weather in Murcia, doing otherwise would be difficult. However, I saw other teams doing strong, those coming to train and race in Spain, the ones who started their seasons in Australia or Argentina... it really seems like the peloton has stepped up their game a bit compared to previous seasons in the early part of the year. Fortunately, and despite being close to turning 36, I'm feeling as excited and fit as when I was 22, even more so today - being able to stay with the top guys in the peloton makes me really happy.
This victory is a tribute to many people. The main one is Adriano Malori: you all know he's still recovering after his crash in Argentina, and I want to wish him the best. Also the team: they all did fantastically well. The fans: as well in Andalucía as in the rest of Spain, they are spectacular and treat me really well. Also, my family, the kids, all the people who support me. My next goals? We'll be heading to Strade Bianche in two weeks, then Tirreno-Adriatico, Milano-Sanremo and then, the Northern classics, Harelbeke and Flanders above all."

Tejay van Garderen:
“I picked my moment with about 3km to go and tried to put my head down and claw back enough time to keep the jersey, but it wasn’t to be. Hats off to Valverde, that was a good move. He pulled it off with a lot of guts, it was impressive 
The team showed that we were really strong. We have a couple of lessons to take away from this but in the end I think we showed that we are all in good shape and we’re motivated and ready to take on the next challenge.”

Damiano Caruso:
"I’m really happy to have won the King of the Mountain classification. It’s a great way to start my season and I hope to continue with these kind of results this year.” 

Igor Anton:
"I knew how hard this stage was going to be because we did this same climb during the 2013 Vuelta a Espana. Today’s result has been really important for me and for my confidence. It was a small test which has allowed me to gauge my condition. Valverde was very strong but I could stay with the other GC contenders all the way to the finish. I am happy with where I am and I need to continue in this way."

Wilco Kelderman:
"I'm happy with my performance here in the Ruta. Today there were more than 4000 meters of climbing, and if you perform like this in your first race of the year, you know you came out of winter well. I built my condition step by step. First given much attention to my back where I had some trouble with last year and then I trained hard. It roles good and it gives me confidence. I am looking forward to Paris-Nice. I still need to work on some finishing touches in my workouts. I noticed here that some others are just that a little better and I feel that I can still improve. I will be ready for Paris-Nice.”

Bauke Mollema:
"I felt good the whole day and the whole week I have felt good on the uphills. Today I found the confirmation I was looking for in the first stage race of the season and quite a hard parcours this week. I am satisfied, I was hoping to go for the win, but yeah I think Valverde was too strong today, so he deserved it. I think I got the maximum out of it and also to finish on the podium of the general classification. It was a good day, the boys worked hard today, everyone did their best to help me as much as possible. It was a good test this week.
It was quite early when Valverde went, seven kilometers to go, and it was a really strong attack; he's an explosive guy, and I could not follow at that moment. Afterward, the speed in our group went down a little bit as riders were looking to each other. The speed was not fast enough, so he took 30 seconds quickly, and it was not up to me to chase since I was about 15th in GC before today. So I was waiting for the other guys to go and in the last kilometer I could do my thing.
I knew I was 20-30 seconds behind four or five riders, and I looked back once [on the climb] because I was not sure of the differences at that moment so I just wanted to go full until the finish. At the end, I think it was only four seconds ahead of the fourth place. It was all I can do. I am happy, especially uphill the feeling is good. 
I have been training a lot in the mountains the last couple of months, more than I have in the past because I want to keep improving myself as a climber, and I think today was a good confirmation for that. I am looking forward to Tirreno [Adriatico] and the next races."

Rafal Majka:
"My condition is improving and although  I still haven't reach a top level,  it is definitely better than last year. The whole team was good, especially after all the altitude meters tackled today. The whole squad took a lot of the wind to protect Roman Kreuziger and myself until the end of the stage, an arduous task, considering all the climbs that had to be faced.
We can be pleased with both the fifth place in the GC and the two stage victories. I think this week went well and I can't think of anything that stands out where we could have done better. It's important now to get the right form for the season's big goals, which for will be the Giro d'Italia."

1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 4:46:51
2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:36
3 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 0:00:42
4 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:48
5 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff Team 0:01:07
6 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:01:08
7 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:01:16
8 Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Dimension Data 0:01:19
9 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Team Sky 0:01:27
10 Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:01:30
11 Wouter Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:01:44
12 Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:01:56
13 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:02:10
14 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:03:00
15 Omar Fraile Matarranz (Spa) Dimension Data 0:03:12
16 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal
17 Thomas Degand (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
18 Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) BMC Racing Team
19 Reto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling
20 Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:03:26
1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 17:41:10
2 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:26
3 Bauke Mollema (Ned) TFR 0:00:52
4 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:56
5 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 0:01:11
6 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff Team 0:01:37
7 Wouter Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:01:42
8 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:02:03
9 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:02:14
10 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Team Sky 0:02:45
11 Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
12 Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Dimension Data 0:02:57
13 Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:03:17
14 Fabio Felline (Ita) TFR 0:03:19
15 Reto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling 0:03:24
16 Thomas Degand (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert 0:04:07
17 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Direct Energie 0:04:10
18 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal
19 Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky 0:04:29
20 Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:04:35
21 Omar Fraile Matarranz (Spa) Dimension Data 0:04:46
22 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team 0:04:47
23 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:05:45
24 Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) BMC Racing Team 0:06:06
25 Felix Grossschartner (Aut) CCC Sprandi Polkowice 0:06:27
26 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) TFR 0:06:38
27 Jerome Coppel (Fra) IAM Cycling 0:06:42
28 Lukasz Owsian (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice 0:07:08
29 Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling 0:07:33
30 Eliot Lietaer (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise 0:08:03
31 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:08:30
32 Matteo Busato (Ita) Southeast - Venezuela 0:08:50
33 Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky 0:09:20
34 Huub Duyn (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton 0:09:51
35 Riccardo Zoidl (Aut) TFR 0:09:54
36 Javier Moreno Bazan (Spa) Movistar Team 0:10:21
37 Sylwester Szmyd (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice 0:10:22
38 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:11:24
39 Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling 0:11:35
40 Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:11:37
41 Jay Mccarthy (Aus) Tinkoff Team 0:12:19
42 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:12:28
43 Fabricio Ferrari Barcelo (Uru) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:12:45
44 Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal 0:13:16
45 Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:16:05
46 Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:16:20
47 Jaime Roson Garcia (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:16:38
48 Peter Stetina (USA) TFR 0:16:45
49 Hugh Carthy (GBr) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:17:29
50 Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:17:34
51 Perrig Quemeneur (Fra) Direct Energie 0:17:44
52 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:17:46
53 Sergey Firsanov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo 0:17:49
54 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky 0:17:51
55 Nick Van Der Lijke (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton 0:18:03
56 Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country - Murias 0:18:18
57 Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert 0:18:24
58 Ibai Salas (Spa) Burgos BH 0:18:38
59 Antonio Piedra Perez (Spa) Funvic Soul Cycles - Carrefour 0:18:41
60 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:18:43
61 Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:18:53
62 Marcin Mrozek (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice 0:19:08
63 Clement Chevrier (Fra) IAM Cycling 0:21:03
64 Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team 0:21:21
65 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sky 0:21:39
66 Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:21:40
67 Jose Vicente Toribio Alcolea (Spa) Matrix Powertag 0:21:42
68 Mikel Iturria Segurola (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country - Murias 0:22:12
69 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:22:36
70 Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton 0:23:10
71 Rory Sutherland (Aus) Movistar Team 0:24:19
72 Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert 0:25:13
73 Jan Hirt (Cze) CCC Sprandi Polkowice 0:26:10
74 Manuele Boaro (Ita) Tinkoff Team 0:27:31
75 Aritz Bagües (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country - Murias 0:29:03
76 Kevin Van Melsen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert 0:29:10
77 Leszek Plucinski (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice 0:29:38
78 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:30:32
79 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
80 Bertjan Lindeman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:31:11
81 Damien Garcia (Fra) Stradalli - Bike Aid 0:44:16
1 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team 22 pts
1 Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert 6 pts
1 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky 41 pts
1 BMC Racing Team 53:09:10
2 Team Sky 0:02:16
3 Trek-Segafredo 0:04:52
4 Lotto Soudal 0:05:23
5 Movistar Team 0:07:18
6 Tinkoff Team 0:08:42
7 IAM Cycling 0:11:22
8 CCC Sprandi Polkowice 0:17:49
9 Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:20:25
10 Team Giant-Alpecin 0:23:23
11 Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:26:20
12 Roompot - Oranje Peloton 0:35:32
13 Wanty - Groupe Gobert 0:40:25
14 Euskadi Basque Country - Murias 0:55:07

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