The stage for Clarke, Molard in red - attackers can rejoice

La Vuelta 2018 | Stage 5 | Granada > Roquetas de Mar

A lumpy 188.7km favoured the attackers on the way to Roquetas de Mar with Simon Clarke (Education-Fisrt Drapac) claiming stage 5 of La Vuelta on Wednesday while Rudy Molard took the red jersey from Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky). This is the first time a rider from the French team leads the general classification of La Vuelta since Bradley McGee did so in 2005, already in Andalusia. Clarke battled all day long to come out on top ahead of Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Alessandro De Marchi (BMC).

Most riders at the start hinted stage 5 should be a day for a breakaway, leading to an extremely hard battle to get at the front of the race. Almost 48km were covered in the first hour and still no attacker had managed to break away.

The break of the day finally got away after 62km, past the Alto de Orgiva, and featured no less than 25 strong riders: Hermann Pernsteiner, Franco Pellizotti (Bahrain-Merida), Alexandre Geniez (AG2R-La Mondiale), Davide Villella (Astana), Alessandro De Marchi, Brent Bookwalter (BMC), Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ), Maxime Monfort (Lotto-Soudal), Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott), Andrey Amador (Movistar Team), Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data), Simon Clarke (Education First-Drapac), Maurits Lammertink, Pavel Kochetkov (Katusha-Alpecin), Floris De Tier, Sepp Kuss (LottoNL-Jumbo), Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb), Bauke Mollema, Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo), Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates), José Mendes (Burgos-BH), Jonathan Lastra (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis) and Mikel Iturria (Euskadi-Murias).

Elia Viviani’s Quick-Step Floors and Michal Kwiatkowski’s Team Sky were the only team without a rider at the front but the Italian teammates didn’t to the chase. The gap steadily increased, up to 6 minutes after 100km while attacks kept flying at the front. Alessandro De Marchi went with Stéphane Rossetto in the final 90km, dropped the French man and was then joined by Simon Clarke and Bauke Mollema with 50km to go. The leading trio worked well together to open a 1’40’’ over their chasers at the bottom of the final climb, the cat-2 Alto El Marchal, 37.5km away from the finish.

Davide Villella, Rudy Molard and Floris De Tier accelerated in the climb but couldn’t get closer than 40’’ behind the leaders. Bauke Mollema suffered a mechanical but an impressive effort got him back to the front 2km from the summit. The gap increased in the downhill, while the Sky-led peloton remained at 6’. After a tactical finale, Clarke eventually dominated his breakaway companions, while Molard only finished 9’’ behind. With the pack at 4’55’’, the French man takes the red jersey.

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