Vuelta a Espaņa - Rodriguez wins stage five in style
Wed, 24 Aug 16:23:00 2011
The Katusha climber was set up perfectly by team-mate Daniel Moreno to take the hilly 187km stage by four seconds ahead of Dutchman Wout Poels of Vacansoleil.
Moreno, winner of Tuesday's stage four and leader of the king of the mountains competition, picked up third place to cap a fine couple of days for the Russian-based Katusha team.
Rodriguez rises to third in the GC, 23 seconds behind Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel of Quick Step, while the impressive Moreno is second, just nine seconds adrift of the French national champion.
A small group of race favourites - including Italy's Michele Scarponi (Lampre) and Belgian Jurgen van den Broeck (Omega Pharma Lotto) - crossed the line eight seconds behind Rodriguez, while reigning champion Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) came home a further three seconds back.
Britain's Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) struggled on the final steep ramp - which reached a maximum gradient of 23 percent - but limited his losses to 20 seconds on Rodriguez.
Spaniard Igor Anton (Euskaltel) was less fortunate, rolling over the line 57 seconds down to lose another significant chunk of time to his rivals for a second successive stage. It was a sorry return to the town where Anton recorded the first of two Vuelta stage wins last year.
news Vuelta stage 5
Played out yet again in hot temperatures in the mid 30s, Wednesday's stage five started with a long 37km neutralised descent from the Andalucian ski resort of Sierra Nevada. As soon as the flag signalled the official start of the stage on the outskirts of Granada, the attacks came thick and fast.
But it was not until around 60km into the race that a break stuck, with eight riders forming an escape group on the first of two climbs of the second-category Alto de Valdepenas.
HTC-Highoad's Michael Albasini broke clear of the escapees on a long, flat mid-section of the stage and was eventually joined by Johannes Frohlinger (Skil Shimano) and Angel Madrazo (Movistar) as the remaining leaders were swept up by the Katusha-led peloton.
The trio built up a maximum lead of two minutes but were themselves reeled in ahead of the second ascent of the Also de Valdepenas with 22km left to ride.
Frenchman David Moncoutie - a three-time stage winner on the Vuelta - then launched a counter attack despite the fierce pace being set by both Katusha and Liquigas.
The Cofidis veteran, winner of the Vuelta king of the mountains competition for the previous three years, crossed the summit with a lead of 34 seconds but saw this whittled down to just 15 seconds on the descent into Valdepenas de Jaen.
It was not a large enough cushion for Moncoutie, who cracked on the steep final ramp inside the closing kilometre. With just over 500m left to ride, the Frenchman was passed by the trailblazing Katusha pair of Rodriguez and polka dot jersey Moreno.
Moreno, winner on Tuesday, was content to set up his team leader for the victory - and despite a late surge from the youngster Poels, the 32-year-old Rodriguez held on to win his second stage of the Vuelta, and his first since 2003.
The Vuelta continues on Thursday with the 197km stage six from Ubeda to Cordoba, which includes one second-category climb but should provide a rare chance for the sprinters to get a slice of the action.
Vuelta: Stage five finish