Today’s ‘easier’ day in Vuelta al Pais Vasco saw the breakaway successfully stay away until the finish line despite a hard chase from the peloton, with Dion Smith the highest place finisher for Team BikeExchange in the chasing bunch with 21st position.
The peloton kept the breakaway of six riders on a tight leash, never giving them more than a three minute advantage with the team sending Damien Howson and Chris Juul-Jensen to the head of affairs to assist with the chase. In the end, despite the hard chase from the peloton along the undulating and twisty coast road, three riders escaped the peloton’s grasp and were able to stay to contest the stage five victory.
“It was super fast and technical stage; we knew the breakaway was strong so the bunch didn’t give them much time, but I think all the teams riding underestimated how strong they were. With about five kilometres to go it was clear the group wasn’t coming back.
I’m super grateful for the boys riding for me. In the final I put myself in the right position on the last climb but from there to the line I got a bit swamped and couldn’t get out to really have a go so it’s a bit disappointing but we did what we could as a team. Everyone was looking good today and Chaves stayed out of trouble so we can go all in for him tomorrow.”
Julian Dean – Sport Director
“We tried to control the breakaway and give Dion the best chance for the final but the breakaway guys ahead were too strong. They came close but with the twisting roads, the environmental factors, I think it was a combination of things but it wasn’t from a lack of trying today. Esteban got safely through the day and tomorrow is a really short and hard stage and it should be good for us.”
2021 Vuelta al País Vasco – Stage 5 Results:
1. Mikel Honore 3:39:54
2. Josef Cerny ST
3. Julien Bernard +0:34
21. Dion Smith (Team BikeExchange) ST
General Classification after stage 5:
1. Brandon McNulty 16:05:43
2. Primoz Roglic 0:23
3. Jonás Vingegaard 0:28
15. Esteban Chaves (Team BikeExchange) +1:44
Photos courtesy of Getty Images