Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) won stage 5 of La Vuelta 22 after an impressive performance on the hills of the Basque Country. The Spaniard was a late addition to the massive breakaway that covered the stage at a furious pace. He eventually went solo on the final ascent of the Alto del Vivero and took victory in Bilbao, emulating Igor Anton’s success on the same roads 11 years ago. This is Soler’s 2nd stage win in La Vuelta. Right behind him, Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) took La Roja, only 2 seconds ahead of Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious), 3rd of the stage. The Frenchman had already taken the leader’s red jersey after stage 5 of La Vuelta 18. He held it for four days.
La Vuelta 22 stays in Basque Country with stage 5, a hilly 187.2km challenge from Irun to Bilbao featuring 5 categorised ascents on iconic roads that have witnessed great moments of cycling. Such terrain inspires the attackers, so much that it takes some 80km of battles at almost 50km/h for the break to get away!
Wright, Molard, Masnada… and then Soler
From km 74, 17 riders successively and successfully make the break: Vadim Pronskiy (Astana Qazaqstan), Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious), Jonathan Caicedo (EF Education-EasyPost), Rudy Molard, Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ), Julius Johansen (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Alessandro De Marchi, Daryl Impey (Israel Premier Tech), Kamil Malecki (Lotto Soudal), Gregor Mühlberger (Movistar Team), Fausto Masnada (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team), Lawson Craddock (Team BikeExchange-Jayco), Nikias Arndt (Team DSM), Victor Langellotti (Burgos-BH), Roger Adria (Kern Pharma), Ibai Azurmendi (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Anthony Delaplace (Arkea-Samsic).
As they face the first ascent of the day, the cat-3 Puerto de Gontzagarigana (summit at km 95.6), the gap is up to 2 minutes. Rudy Molard is the virtual leader as he only trailed by 58’’ on GC at the start of the day. Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) attacks from the bunch and he bridges the gap on the second ascent of the day, up Balcon de Bizkaia (km 102.4). At the summit, Langellotti goes first over the top, as he did in the previous ascent.
Soler and Molard take the prizes
Langellotti also chases the points on the Alto de Morga (km 125.4). Meanwhile, Jumbo-Visma control the bunch with a gap of around 5 minutes. Craddock attacks on the first ascent of the cat-2 Alto del Vivero (km 144). Langellotti bridges the gap at the summit (and all but secures the polka-dot jersey at the end of the day). Ten more riders join them to battle it out for the stage win: Impey, Molard, Stewart, Pronskiy, Soler, Adria, Muhlberger, Masnada, Arndt and Wright.
After a first passage through Bilbao, Stewart attacks ahead of the final ascent of the Alto del Vivero (km 173). He opens a gap of 40’’ but Soler catches him 1km away from the summit. On the downhill, the Spaniard tries to resist a group of five chasers: Wright, Molard, Pronskiy, Craddock and Langellotti.
Five more chasers return in the final 5km: Muhlberger, Arndt, Adria, Impey and Masnada. But they finish 4’’ behind Soler. Impey sprints to 2nd and Wright finishes 3rd, taking 4 bonus seconds, making him Molard’s runner-up in the overall standings with a gap of 2’’.