photo credits @ VaC
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) finally broke the stalemate between him and Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-Quickstep) in stage 5 of the Volta a Catalunya today, after the Slovenian rider commenced a searing attack along the summit of Lo Port to snatch the victory over his Belgian rival.
Meanwhile, more drama was unfolding in the battle for third place, with João Almeida getting an assist from UAE Team Emirates teammate Marc Soler to take third on the stage and climb up the overall standings.
Roglič now leads Evenepole by 10 seconds in the overall classification with two stages remaining, while Almeida climbed into third and Soler into fourth as both Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) and stage 2 winner Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) faded from view.
“Happy,” was how Roglič described his mood after the stage. “I’m still just coming back and it was a long time since I did this kind of effort in racing. I’m super happy. Like I said the first day, 300 or 500 metres of climbing was enough – but it’s getting better and now I’m enjoying it.
“It’s still two hard days to come. Not tomorrow probably but for sure the day after – three days and we’ll do our best and see.”
Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) and Tsgabu Grmay (Jayco-AlUla) marked the day’s first breakaway effort, with the trio later opening up an advantage of 2:30 over the peloton as they crested the first climb.
However, Hayter and Martin decided to rejoin the peloton on the long, gradual descent, with Grmay later getting reeled in by the chasing quartet of Ibai Azurmendi (Euskaltel-Euskadi), José Felix Parra, Pablo Castrillo and Héctor Carretero (Kern Pharma), and Julen Amezqueta (Caja-Rural Seguros RGA).
Both Hayter and Martin later bridged their way to the lead quintet, making it seven at the front before the intermediate sprint in Mora la Nova with 103.5 kilometers to go.
After taking the maximum points atop the Coll de Som, Martin sat up, pleased to have padded his lead in the mountains classification.
Meanwhile, Soudal-QuickStep took up the task of closing down the escape group, which still was holding onto a two and a half minute gap with 22.6 kilometers to go.
However, with 10 kilometers remaining, their lead had fallen to just a minute, prompting Grmay to go on the attack, leaving Parra, Amezqueta and Azurmendi to chase as the gradient kicked up.
With 6.7 kilometers to go, Grmay was the last rider caught as Bahrain-Victorious led the peloton. As the lead group shrank, Evenepoel still had two teammates to Roglič’s one, and they set a furious pace.
The gloves came off with 4.6 kilometers to go when Evenepoel launched off his teammate’s wheel with Roglič and Soler the only riders to hold on. With teammate Almeida behind, Soler waited at the back and, with 2.2km to go, Almeida bridged across.
Looking to move up over Landa and Ciccone, Almeida surged in the last kilometre but failed to distance his two companions.
Roglič was next to accelerate but again, a stalemate until the road flattened and Evenepoel started his sprint. But it was too early and Roglič got the jump.
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