Tour of the Basque Country 2013: stage five – report

Ritchie Porte (Team Sky) has won the fifth stage of the 2013 Tour of the Basque Country. 

The Paris-Nice winner sprinted clear in the final kilometre to claim victory at the end of a 166.1km stage from Eibar to Beasain that included 10 categorised climbs.

Defending champion, Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), finished second, while race leader, Sergio Henao, Porte’s Team Sky colleague, was third.

Richie Porte, pictured here in the 2012 Vuelta a Espana, won today’s fifth stage of the Tour of the Basque Country

Porte’s audacious attack came at the end of a long and largely uneventful day raced in foul conditions that belonged, morally at least, to Omar Fraile (Caja Rural).

The 22-year-old’s courageous solo ride ended six kilometres from the finish on the 12.1 per cent slopes of the final climb of the day, the Olaberria.

Fraile had earlier seen off the attentions of an elite chasing group with 50km to go; one that contained Rui Costa (Movistar), Jacob Fuglsang (Astana), Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp), Jose Herrada (Movistar), and Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

His more accomplished pursuers sat up and submitted to the relentless and seemingly effortless tempo of Team Sky’s Vasil Kiryienka who took over pacemaking duties at the head of the bunch after a similarly impressive ride from team-mate, Xabi Zandio. Kiryienka led Porte and Henao to the foot of the Olaberria, reached with 7km to go, and fell silently back through the group, his work done.

Now only  metres ahead, Fraile’s progress could not have created a greater contrast with that of his Belarussian pursuer.

While the young Spaniard rocked and gurned under the effort of sustaining his lead, the only evidence that Kiryienka was even breathing came from the condensation that accompanied his exhalations on another cold and wet day in the Basque Country.

Fraile’s capture, resisted to the end, sparked an immediate attack from defending champion, Sanchez, who began the day 47 seconds down on Henao, but who quickly discovered he could not shake the Columbian, even on a treacherous descent.

The two men opened a slight gap on an elite chasing group that included Porte and Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) as they dropped into the finish town of Beasain, such was their skill and bravery.

As the road leveled, however, the rivals formed a single group, which also contained birthday boy, Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEDGE), Simon Spilak (Katusha), and John Gadret (Ag2r-La Mondiale).

It was the Slovenian who led the small chasing group back to Sanchez and Henao, but just moments later, as they passed beneath the flamme rouge, Porte launched his counter attack and was gone.

A frantic pursuit ensued, but Porte crossed the line four seconds ahead of his GC rivals, and now trails team-mate, Henao,  and second-placed Nairo Quintana (Movistar), winner of yesterday’s stage, by just six seconds.

Tomorrow’s final stage, a 24km time trial, will decide the race, with Sky likely to give their men free reign to decide the final finishing order.

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Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco 2013 – stage five – result

1) Richie Porte (AUS) – Team Sky – 4.40.43
2) Samuel Sanchez (ESP) – Euskaltel-Euskadi +4″
3) Sergio Henao (COL) – Team Sky – ST
4) Nario Quintana (COL) – Movistar
5) Pieter Weening (NED) – Orica-GreenEDGE
6) John Gadret (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale
7) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank
8) Simon Spilak (SLO) – Katusha
9) Diego Ulissi (ITA) – Lampre
10) Giampaolo Caruso (ITA) – Katusha

General classification

1) Sergio Henao (COL) – Team Sky – 21.04.07
2) Nario Quintana (COL) – Movistar +6″
3) Richie Porte (AUS) – Team Sky – ST
4) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank
5) Simon Spilak (SLO) – Katusha +10″
6) Pieter Weening (NED) – Orica-GreenEDGE +35″
7) Carlos Batancur (COL) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +37″
8) Samuel Sanchez (ESP) – Euskaltel-Euskadi +47″
9) Giampaolo Caruso (ITA) – Katusha +51″
10) Diego Ulissi (ITA) – Lampre +1.03

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