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Vuelta a Espana 2017: Alexey Lutsenko wins a rolling Stage 5

Sam Challis
23 Aug 2017

The Astana rider punches clear of his rivals on a sharp final ramp to take the stage

Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) won Stage 5 of the 2017 Vuelta a Espana after a day-long break fragmented in the last quarter of the stage. Following an attack by Marco Haller (Katusha-Alpecin) on the descent of the stage's penultimate climb, Lutsenko attacked with 3km to go to build an unnassailable lead up the steepest part of the stage's final climb.

Chris Froome (Team Sky) attacked his GC rivals in the finale after his team controlled the stage and only Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) was able to stay with him, meaning he gains significant time over most of the race favourites.

Vuelta a Espana 2017 Stage 5: The story of the stage

Starting in the town of Benicàssim, the 175km route never strayed far from the Balearic sea as it meandered its way north-east up Spain’s east coast to finish in Alcossebre.

Thanks to the team time-trial and an unusually early mountain stage at this year’s Vuelta there were plenty of riders who could get into a break without threatening the general classification, so the lumpy parcours of Stage 5 provided a golden opportunity for a breakaway to triumph over the pack.

There were limited flat kilometres before the route reached the first climb of the day so breakaway attempts were frenetic from the gun.

A large group of 16 riders was established within the first 7km: Rubén Fernandez and Marc Soler (Movistar Team), Michael Schwarzmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale), Marco Haller (Katusha-Alpecin), Matej Mohoric (UAE Team Emirates), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Valerio Agnoli (Bahrain-Merida), Jérémy Maison (FDJ), Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data), Lluis Mas and Hector Saez (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Michel Kreder (Aqua Blue Sport) and Jetse Bol (Manzana-Postobón).

Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) and Davide Villella (Cannondale-Drapac) also made it into the front group.

The former had his eye on the stage win because the 3km climb to the finish looked ideally suited to his attributes as a rider, while the latter had his eye on KOM points to extend his lead at the top of that classification.

For a long while that was the end of that: Villella claimed KOM points at every opportunity along the route by astutely accelerating away from the break near the summit of each rise, while the peloton, controlled unsurprisingly by the Team Sky train, were content to keep the break’s advantage to within 3-4 minutes.

An attack by Haller off the summit of the day’s penultimate climb, the Alto de la Serratella, shook things up though, fragmenting the break slightly and a two-man offshoot formed, comprised of Haller and Lutsenko.

They gained a minute’s advantage over the original breakaway group.

The injection of pace at the front served to stretch the lead back to the peloton out to 7 minutes as the bunch seemed to accept that the break would contest the win.

In the flat-ish run up to the route’s final climb, the 3.4km Ermita de Santa Lucia, Alaphilippe showed the first real signs of his class as he led a move from the original break, which immediately gained time back on the lead pair.

Yet it wasn’t a simple affair to close the gap - mini-attacks by Gougeard and Kudus disrupted the chase and distanced Alaphilippe.

In the disorganisation Lutsenko and Haller weren't caught so Lutsenko attacked his companion with 3km to go, as the road really started to spike upward.

Kudus reached Haller as the Katusha-Alpecin man struggled with the gradient with 2km to go but by this point Lutsenko had an advantage of 40 seconds which was enough of a cushion for him to take the stage.

Vuelta a Espana 2017 Stage 5: Benicassim - Alcossebre  157.7km, result

1. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) Astana, 4:24:58
2. Merhawi Kudus (ERT) Dimension Data, at 0:42
3. Marc Soler (ESP) Movistar, at 0:56
4. Matej Mohoric (SLO) UAE Team Emirates, at 1:11
5. Alexis Gougeard (FRA) AG2R La Mondiale, at 1:24
6. Marco Haller (AUT) Katusha-Alpecin, at 1:24
7. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) Quick-Step Floors, at 1:40
8. Jetse Bol (NED) Manzana Postobon, at 2:04
9. Matvey Mamykin (RUS) Katusha-Alpecin, at 2:18
10. Jeremy Maison (FRA) FDJ, at 2:31

Vuelta a Espana 2017: General Classification after Stage 5

1. Chris Froome (GBR) Team Sky, 18:07:10
2. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing, at 0:10
3. Esteban Chaves (COL) Orica-Scott, at 0:11
4. Nicolas Roche (IRL) BMC Racing, at 0:13
5. David De La Cruz (ESP) Quick-Step Floors, at 0:23
6. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) Bahrain-Merida, at 0:36
7. Fabio Aru (ITA) Astana, at 0:49
8. Adam Yates (GBR) Orica-Scott, at 0:50
9. Simon Yates (GBR) Orica-Scott, at 1:09
10 Michael Woods (CAN) Cannondale-Drapac, at 1:13

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