Irishman Sam Bennett (AN Post Chain Reaction) conquered the double ascent of Caerphilly Mountain and outsprinted Michal Golas (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) and Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling) to win stage five of the Tour of Britain in Wales.
Bennett, pipped to the line by Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) in Kendal in stage two, timed his attack to perfection after a group of riders went clear on the second climb of the tricky category one mountain.
With Ian Stannard (Team Sky) leading team-mate and gold jersey holder Bradley Wiggins to keep the group together with a huge effort on the final, fast descent the race ended with a sprint finish.
And Bennett proved fastest having attacked from the middle of the group to take victory under the shadow of Caerphilly Castle for his first career stage victory.
The result meant Bennett emulated team director, and legendary countryman, Sean Kelly, who also earned his first career stage victory in a previous guise of the Tour of Britain.
Despite a punishing parcours for the queen stage of this tenth edition of the Tour of Britain, featuring the category one climbs of Cwm Owen, the Brecon Beacons and the double ascent of Caerphilly Mountain, four riders took little time to establish a lead earlier in the day.
Following a pacey start, King of the Mountains leader Angel Madrazo (Movistar), Pete Williams (IG-Sigma Sport), Jacob Rathe (Garmin-Sharp), and Giro d’Italia blue jersey winner Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani), earned themselves a gap of 1’45” as they raced towards Newbridge-on-Wye.
The pace soon slowed however, and while the gap was stretched out to more than three minutes, the riders were well behind the ‘slow schedule’ due to the wet roads and testing conditions.
Williams bagged the first intermediate sprint points on offer, his first of this year’s Tour, having topped the classification last year.
Meanwhile Angel Madrazo, whose efforts in the breakaways have seen him emerge as a sprints contender – moved within one point of leader Aaron Gate after crossing fourth.
Madrazo also maintained his charge for the King of the Mountains, crossing the summit of Cwm Owen first, while Sean Downey (AN Post Chain Reaction) attacked from the bunch to ensure he too stays in contention.
Downey’s attack aside however, Sky continued to lead the peloton and a pacey descent saw them make inroads into the gap to keep the leaders at a manageable distance.
Up the road Madrazo moved top of the sprints classification when the second intermediate sprint at Libanus went uncontested and with the climbing pedigree of the Spaniard and Pirazzi in the break, their lead grew again on the Brecon Beacons ascent.
Fortunately for the riders, after earlier worries of poor visibility atop the Beacons – which at 430m is the highest point reached on this year’s Tour – the rain cleared for the tricky climb up the picturesque Welsh mountainside.
Madrazo once again crossed the summit first to become the first rider to pass 50 climbing points on this year’s Tour and extend his lead atop the Skoda King of the Mountains classification.
The Spaniard’s team mate, Jose Joaquin Rojas, was forced to abandon due to illness but the remaining Movistar riders kept themselves tucked behind Sky in the bunch.
As echelons formed, Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) also ensured he was up front while Williams was dropped by the remaining three leaders on the descent of Brecon Beacons.
The gap tumbled but not before Madrazo had also secured his place leading the sprints classification when the three leaders passed through the final sprint at Ystrad Mynach.
Movistar showed their intentions by attacking the bunch, with Alex Dowsett leading out Nairo Quintana at the bottom of the first climb.
The bunch soon regrouped, but the pace remained high with teams determined to keep their riders at the front as they approached Caerphilly Mountain.
The three leaders also attacked and counter-attacked as their lead continued to fall, and they were eventually caught in Caerphilly.
Quintana attacked immediately at the base of the climb and together with Francesco Bongiorno (Bardiani Valvolve-CSF Inox) led over the top of the first climb.
David Lopez (TeamSky), with team-mate, Bradley Wiggins in the gold jersey on his wheel, led the much-reduced pursuing group, and kept them in touch with the escapees, catching them before Sojasun’s David Le Lay attacked solo.
Le Lay earned himself an eight-second gap come the second ascent, but with Stannard, Lopez and Wiggins continuing to drive the bunch, he too was soon caught.
Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) seized the opportunity to attack, bursting clear on the second climb, but was unable to fully shake off Quintana and Sergio Pardilla (MTN Qhubeka).
The Irishman led over the top of Caerphilly Mountain but a huge effort on the descent by Ian Stannard (Team Sky) brought it all back together.
A number of attacks and counter-attacks followed on the descent, but it was Bennett who timed his to perfection to beat Golas and Elmiger on the line.
Tour of Britian 2013 – stage five result
1 Sam Bennett (IRL) An Post Chain Reaction 4:35.28hrs
2 Michal Golas (POL) Omega Pharma-Quickstep same time
3 Martin Elmiger (SUI) IAM Cycling
4 David Le Lay (FRA) Sojasun
5 Jack Bauer (NZL) Garmin-Sharp
6 Simon Yates (GBR) Great Britain
7 Sir Bradley Wiggins (GBR) Sky Procycling
8 Sebastien Reichenbach (SUI) IAM Cycling
9 Ian Stannard (GBR) Sky Procycling
10 Nairo Quintana (COL) Movistar
1 Sir Bradley Wiggins (GBR) Sky Procycling 20:47.04hrs
2 Ian Stannard (GBR) Sky Procycling +37”
3 Martin Elmiger (SUI) IAM Cycling +43”
4 Jack Bauer (NZL) Garmin-Sharp +55”
5 Michal Golas (POL) Omega Pharma-Quickstep +1’12”
6 David Lopez (ESP) Sky Procycling +1’17”
7 Sergio Pardilla (ESP) MTN-Qhubeka +1’18”
8 Simon Yates (GBR) Great Britain +1’23”
9 Daniel Martin (IRL) Garmin-Sharp +1’38”
10 Sebastien Reichenbach (SUI) IAM Cucling +1’44”