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Degenkolb sprints to second win in the Vuelta

It looked like the most straightforward sprint stage so far in the Vuelta and in the end we had a predicted sprint with John Degenkolb winning his second stage in a row ahead of Bouhanni and Moreno Hofland. For a while there it was wild west though as a Tinoff-Saxo attack in the crosswinds threw the race into chaos.

Cranky Nacer nicely hidden behind the winner
Cranky Nacer nicely hidden behind the winner

The early break was the ever threatening Tony Martin along with Lotto's Pim Ligthart but after Martin didn't feel the breakaway was given enough of a gap he abandoned what he felt was a hopeless effort and Ligthart was left alone in front. With a gap of about 1,5-2 minutes his day was soon to be over even sooner than expected too because behind trouble was brewing.

With the race in classic exposed Spanish countryside and the winds fairly strong the conditions were right for everyones favorite event: echelons. Bjarne Riis's Tinkoff boys did what they are famous for at about 40 km from the finish, hitting the front with all their riders and pushing the pace wildly in the crosswind. They got the field stretched out in single file and soon it also cracked off in three pieces as riders behind dropped off. Most of the big names were still in the front group but Garmin and their leaders missed out as did a few of the sprinters. At 30 km to go the front hit the Cat 3 climb of the day and while Tinkoff and Movistar kept the pressure up riders were able to use the respite from the wind and the uphill to rejoin the front group and a truce was called. Left behind was the third and last group where riders couldn't or wouldn't work to reach the front. In the end it was an attempt that didn't give Tinkoff any  real gains but they did put their opponents on notice. Relax for a second in this race and you could be sent out the back when you least expect it.

The final sprint followed the predicted script pretty much. BMC made a spirited attempt to launch Philippe Gilbert off the front but John Degenkolb was placed well enough to come around and sprint for the win. Behind him Nacer Bouhanni came from a slightly poor position and ended up electing to go on Degenkolb's right but discovering right away that there was no room to go past between the Giant rider and the barriers. He protested that Degenkolb closed the door on him but from overhead images it was clear that the German pretty much held his line and there was just not enough room to begin with.

Michael Matthews held on to his leaders jersey and Degenkolb and Lluis Mas Bonet stay on top in the Points and Mountains competition.

TOP 10 Stage 5
1. GERDEGENKOLB, John 115 Team Giant - Shimano 4h 41' 47''
2. FRABOUHANNI, Nacer 91 4h 41' 47'' + 0''
3. NEDHOFLAND, Moreno 35 Belkin Pro Cycling Team 4h 41' 47'' + 0''
4. BELSTUYVEN, Jasper 217 Trek Factory Racing 4h 41' 47'' + 0''
5. GERMARTENS, Paul 36 Belkin Pro Cycling Team 4h 41' 47'' + 0''
6. FRAMONDORY, Lloyd 17 AG2R La Mondiale 4h 41' 47'' + 0''
7. BELGILBERT, Philippe 44 BMC Racing Team 4h 41' 47'' + 0''
8. ESPREYNES, Vicente 127 IAM Cycling 4h 41' 47'' + 0''
9. ITASBARAGLI, Kristian 165 MTN - Qhubeka 4h 41' 47'' + 0''
10. ITAFERRARI, Roberto 5 Lampre Merida 4h 41' 47'' + 0''

1. AUSMATTHEWS, Michael 186 Orica GreenEdge 18h 12' 31''
2. COLQUINTANA, Nairo Alexander 159 Movistar Team 18h 12' 44'' + 13''
3. ESPVALVERDE, Alejandro 151 Movistar Team 18h 12' 51'' + 20''
4. COLURAN, Rigoberto 177 Omega Pharma - Quick-Step 18h 12' 55'' + 24''
5. ITACARUSO, Damiano 65 Cannondale Pro Cycling 18h 12' 57'' + 26''
6. COLCHAVES RUBIO, Esteban 182 Orica GreenEdge 18h 12' 57'' + 26''
7. ESPZUBELDIA, Haimar 219 Trek Factory Racing 18h 13' 00'' + 29''
8. NEDKELDERMAN, Wilco 31 Belkin Pro Cycling Team 18h 13' 03'' + 32''
9. ESPCONTADOR, Alberto 201 Tinkoff - Saxo 18h 13' 03'' + 32''
10. NEDGESINK, Robert 34 Belkin Pro Cycling Team 18h 13' 03'' + 32''