Volta a Catalunya (st. 5)
Nairo Quintana stays close to attacks by Contador (TCS) and main favourites in Catalunya, still 5th overall after finish in late Tondo’s hometown Valls
The longest stage in the 2014 Volta a Catalunya -218km from Llanars, on the foot of the Vallter 2000 climb where the race finished yesterday, to Valls, the hometown of the remembered Xavi Tondo- was expected to be busy in its finale due to the Cat-3 Alt de Lilla, a small climb just over ten kilometers from the finish. The ever-consistent Pablo Lastras and Rubén Plaza, the latter made part of Thursday’s break, led the Movistar Team riders calm until that point, with Nairo Quintana saving energy before his last chance to improve any places in the GC: Sunday’s circuit race in Barcelona/Montjuïc.
After the day’s break was caught, Westra (AST) and Hesjedal (GRS) tried several moves with no success, leading to a more serious attempt by Alberto Contador (TCS). The Spaniard’s attack forced Bardet, Rodríguez and van Garderen to respond, with Nairo following them after Jonathan Castroviejo took a brief moment to conduct the group. The final move by Jakob Fuglsang (AST) into the descent wasn’t enough to take the field out of balance, as Luka Mezgec (GIA) claimed his third sprint victory ahead of a compact peloton, with no time gaps. Quintana came across safely in 23rd place.
Saturday will bring a supposedly calm day, with just one rated climb in the 172km stage six between El Vendrell and Vilanova i la Geltrú.