Menchov Wins Stage 5 of Vuelta
Denis Menchov (Illes Balears) has won Stage 5 of the Vuelta a Espana.
Denis Menchov (Illes Balears) has won Stage 5 of the Vuelta a Espana. Menchov rode away from four companions in the last km to win the hilly, 186.5-km ride from Zaragoza to Morella in 5:07:44. Aitor Gonzalez (Fassa Bortolo) outsprinted Alejandro Valverde (Comunidad Valenciana) for second at 0:03. Manuel Beltran (U.S. Postal Service) has taken the overall lead from teammate Benoit Joachim.
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The stage was ridden into a headwind. The wind helped the bunch to keep the day?s major break on a short leash. At 55 km, 17 riders escaped, but the fugitives? lead maxed out at 3:00. With 65 km left, five of the riders?Stuart O?Grady (Cofidis), Unai Osa (Illes Balears), Bram Tankink (Quick Step), Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank), and Nicolas Jalabert (Phonak)?set out on their own.
Comunidad Valenciana led the chase, and the bunch caught the break at the base of the Category 2 Puerto de Torremiro. Liberty Seguros took over the pacemaking, and the bunch began to thin. Gonzalez, however, then attacked and took Danilo Di Luca (Saeco) and Martin Perdiguero (Saunier Duval) with him. Floyd Landis (U.S. Postal Service) towed the lead group to the break. Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval) and Giro d?Italia champion Damiano Cunego (Saeco) attacked, were caught, and attacked again. As the field approached the summit, Comunidad Valenciana resumed the pacemaking.
Comunidad Valenciana led the field into the hardest part of the day?s final climb. Joaquim Rodriguez (Saunier Duval) attacked, and Gonzalez joined him. Isidro Nozal (Liberty Seguros) led a chase group that contained the heads of state. Menchov bridged up to the leaders with Carlos Sastre (CSC) and Valverde. With 500 m left, the Russian attacked. His erstwhile companions were racing for second place.
The stage was a disaster for T-Mobile. The German squad ate tainted fish during the previous night?s dinner. All of the team except for Cadel Evans and Erik Zabel contracted food poisoning. Alexander Vinokourov lost 17 minutes, and Santiago Botero, Torsten Hiekmann, and Steffen Wesemann abandoned. The illness has dashed T-Mobile?s hopes for a strong Vuelta.
In the overall, Beltran leads Landis and Menchov. Stage 6 will not change this state of affairs. The 157-km ride from Benicarlo to Castellon de la Plana will feature the Category 3 Puerto de la Mirona and the Category 2 Coll de la Bandaret and Alto del Desierto de las Palmas. The last of these climbs is 25 km from the finish, so the field is likely to be together for a bunch sprint. Who will take it? Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo)? Erik Zabel (T-Mobile)? Stuart O?Grady (Cofidis)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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