Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE) sprinted to his first Grand Tour stage win on stage five of the Vuelta a Espana after a well-crafted sprint from the 21-year-old.
Orica-GreenEDGE had led the way into the final kilometre and, when their lead-out began to fade, Ewan latched himself onto the lead-outs of first Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and then John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) before outsprinting them both to claim victory.
It was not to be a day of double celebration for the Australian team, however, as Johan Esteban Chaves was caught behind a split further back and lost the red jersey by a solitary second to Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin).
Tsgabu Grmay (Lampre-Merida), the first Ethiopian to start the Vuelta, was keen to go clear almost from the flag, escaping the bunch on the almost pan-flat course.
With nobody originally following his move, it took for his gap to come right back down for two riders to join him – Antoine Duchesne (Team Europcar) and Iljo Keisse (Etixx-QuickStep) bridging across.
This time, the gap was allowed to go out before Orica-GreenEDGE – both protecting race leader Chaves and to set up sprinter Caleb Ewan – took control of the peloton.
Giant-Alpecin were happy to lend firepower to the chase, however, as were Cofidis and the gap which once stood at more than seven minutes was quickly under control.
At the back, Chris Froome (Team Sky) had to be relayed back to the bunch by his team-mates after a mechanical but the chase otherwise proceeded without incident.
Duchesne attacked his two breakaway companions with more than 21km remaining, with Keisse angrily berating Grmay’s lack of effort chasing him down before trying to rid himself of the Ethiopian.
It was little surprise to see Keisse therefore strike out solo at the intermediate sprint, but he was swept up as the peloton ramped up the pace with 10km to go.
Orica-GreenEDGE had control of the peloton as the sprint trains formed, leading the way into the final few corners, but Giant-Alpecin and Tinkoff-Saxo would not be shaken.
Ewan found Daniele Benatti’s wheel to get himself in front of Sagan and back to the front, however, and he then caught Degenkolb’s wheel as the German was led out.
With Sagan unable to match their pace, it was left to the Australian to claim his maiden Grand Tour stage victory by a couple of bike lengths.
Team-mate Chaves was one of a number of GC men to lose a handful of seconds, however, with Nairo Quintana also losing eight seconds to Chris Froome (Team Sky), who is now four seconds ahead of the man viewed as his chief overall rival.
Vuelta a Espana 2015: stage five – result
1) Caleb Ewan (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE – 3.57.28hrs
2) John Degenkolb (GER) – Giant-Alpecin – ST
3) Peter Sagan (SVK) – Tinkoff-Saxo
4) Jempy Drucker (LUX) – BMC Racing
5) Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP) – Movistar +2”
6) Kristijan Sparagli (ITA) – MTN-Qhubeka – ST
7) Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale
8) Daniel Moreno (ESP) – Katusha
9) Tosh van der Sande (BEL) – Lotto-Soudal
10) Nikolas Maes (BEL) – Etixx-QuickStep
1) Tom Dumoulin (NED) – Giant-Alpecin – 17.09.06hrs
2) Johan Esteban Chaves (COL) – Orica-GreenEDGE +1”
3) Nicolas Roche (IRL) – Team Sky +16”
4) Daniel Martin (IRL) – Cannondale-Garmin +27”
5) Daniel Moreno (ESP) – Katusha +31”
6) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar +33”
7) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +35”
8) Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) – Katusha +36”
9) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar +39”
10) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana +52”