Vuelta al País Vasco (st. 5)
Movistar Team played its cards en route to Beasain, with a dangerous attack by Herrada, Costa and Moreno, stays in 2nd overall with Quintana before ‘race of the truth’
Australian Richie Porte (SKY) took the win today on the fifth, penultimate stage of the 53rd Vuelta al País Vasco, the Queen of this year’s race over 166km between Eibar and Beasain and no less than ten Cat. 2 and 3 climbs, where Movistar Team showed again their offensive manners, looking to turns things upside down GC-wise under rain, cold, sleet and even snow at some parts of the route. Already at the Urraki climb (Cat. 1), in the 25th kilometer, Spaniard José Herrada went on the move for one more day against the race’s favourites, a duo attack with Russian climber Egor Silin (AST) that was later accompanied by eight other riders, including Rui Costa and Javi Moreno.
Perfect collaboration between the three riders from the telephone squad was tackled by strong riding from race leader Henao’s Sky team, not allowing the dangerous more gaining more than one-and-a-half minute of advantage and reeling them back with 50k from the finish. With local youngster Omar Fraile (CJR) at the front, Nairo Quintana -who had to change his bike into the penultimate descent- and his team-mates stayed into the bunch for the last passage through the ‘wall’ of Olaberria (Cat. 2), where the escapee was brought back as the decisive selection of eight riders, including Quintana, was formed up, only to see Porte going away and winning with four seconds’ gap.
Nairo and the rest of the Blue squad -with Beñat Intxausti and Rui Costa also within the best 20 overall- will tackle tomorrow the decisive, 24-kilometer ITT in Beasain, which features the slopes of Liernia and Zerain as well as the Olaberria ascent, all of them into Friday’s route. Quintana will roll down the start ramp in second place, with the same six-second margin behind Henao after yesterday’s victory; tied with Porte, the Tasmanian in 3rd; and four seconds ahead of Contador (STB) and Spilak (KAT), respectively fourth and fifth.