Gerrans takes the bunch sprint for 6th place on stage five of Volta CatalunyaFri 25 Mar 2016
Santos Tour Down Under winner Simon Gerrans showed his speed today to take the bunch sprint for sixth place on stage five of the WorldTour race Volta a Catalunya.
Unfortunately for Gerrans and his ORICA-GreenEDGE teammates the chasing peloton left it a little too late and a breakaway that formed with 60kilometres remaining managed to stay away and take the top five spots. Wouter Poels (Team Sky) timed his effort to win solo ahead of the other four breakaway riders.
Having previously won a stage into Valls, Gerrans showed his ambition before the start and was confident of his chances.
"I think the stage could suit myself and Daryl Impey," explained Gerrans. "We have a couple of good options and I think our best chances are winning from a small group sprint, so hopefully that's the scenario."
To ORICA-GreenEDGE's disadvantage, the scenario didn't unfold the way Gerrans had hoped. Nevertheless sport director Neil Stephens said he was happy with the way the team raced today, doing all the right things.
"We will analyse the stage to see what we could have done better, but everybody did a good job today," Stephens said. "The climbers executed their roles well, the finish went well, so I don't think we could have done things much better. Hats off to a great ride by Poels."
"It was a really fast start for the first 120km until the breakaway went. We had two guys off the back, so we had to wait for those guys to come back, then we had really good co-operation with the other teams and chased really hard. The guys out the front were just going too hard for us, so they did a great job to stay away.
"Simon has won here before, so today was a good stage for us, it was probably a bit of a better chance for us than tomorrow, but we will give it a good crack again, whether it's in the breakaway or whether it's in the sprint.
"The main thing from today was we got the work ethic right, the way we executed things and today ok we weren't up for the win itself but everybody did their role well. The cards didn't quite align for us in the finish and we were beaten by a great bike rider in the end."
How it happened:
After two tough mountain stages the riders welcomed a slighter easier profile for the day's stage five. Although there were only two second category climbs along the route, it certainly wasn't an easy day for the riders. Within the first hour of racing the average speed was 51kph as riders tried and tried to form a breakaway.
It was after 130km of racing when the elastic finally broke and eight riders established a lead. Carlos Verona (Etixx-Quickstep), Gaetan Bille (Wanty), Dario Cataldo (Astana), Woet Poels (Sky), Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida), Kanstantsin Siutsou (Dimension-Data), Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal) and Frederick Veuchelen (Wanty) quickly got into formation and increased their advantage to over four minutes.
With less than 40 kilometres left to race, including a second category climb at ten kilometres from the finish ORICA-GreenEDGE sent Amets Txurruka and Christian Meier to assist with the chase.
Once the riders started the final climb of the day the escapees advantage plummeted from the strong chase behind. Poels rode away from the other leaders, cresting the climb clear of the fast chasing peloton.
Similarly to yesterday's stage it looked like the peloton had left the chase too late with the leading riders still holding one minute 15seconds with only five kilometres remaining.
In the closing stages the time gap decreased, but the peloton ran out of road as Poels stayed away to take the victory on stage five into Valls. Impey did a good job of keeping Gerrans in position in the final metres and Gerrans was able to take the bunch sprint for 6th place, 33seconds behind.
Tomorrow is another lumpy day for the riders covering 197.2km including a third and second category climb before a flatter run in to the finish.
Volta Catalunya stage five results:
1. Wouter Poels (Team Sky) 3.59.01
2. Dario Cataldo (Astana) +0:11
3. Gaetan Bille (Wanty) ST
6. Simon Gerrans (ORICA-GreenEDGE) +0:33
General classification after stage five:
1. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 23:01:19
2. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) +0:07
3. Richie Porte (BMC) +0:17
46. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-GreenEDGE) +12:17