Freire Wins Stage 5 of Vuelta
Oscar Freire (Rabobank) has won his second stage of this year's Vuelta. The Spaniard took a bunch sprint to win the rugged, 157.4-km ride from Cangas de Onis to Reinosa in 4:07:51. Daniele Bennati (Lampre) finished second, and Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) took third. Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d'Epargne) remains the overall leader.
From the start, the racing was aggressive. After many abortive sallies, Angel Gomez Gomez (Saunier Duval) attacked at 77 km. Juan Manuel Garate (Quick Step), Jose Luis Arrieta (Ag2r), Daniel Moreno (Relax), and Bert Grabsch (T-Mobile) joined Gomez. The bunch reeled in the break, but at 100 km Gomez and Karsten Kroon (CSC) escaped. Within six km, the pair had forged a 3:30 lead over the peloton.
During their ascent of the Category 1 Puerto de la Palombera, Kroon dropped Gomez. Behind, Rabobank led the pursuit. At the summit, Kroon led the bunch by 1:25.
With eight km left, the peloton was 0:34 behind Kroon. Five km later, the bunch was breathing down the Dutchman's neck. His escape was over.
Milram took over at the front, but neither Erik Zabel nor Alessandro Petacchi, the team's powerhouses, had the horsepower to win. Freire, Bennati, and Bettini had the horses, and Freire used his come-from-behind move in the last 50 m to win.
In the overall, Efimkin leads Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and Carlos Sastre (CSC) by 1:06. Stage 6 will preserve this state of affairs. The flattish, 184.3-km run from Reinosa to Logrono should end in a bunch sprint. Will Freire add another notch to his belt, or will someone stop him? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!