Philipsen wins the sprint and a crash changes the leader
A quiet, scripted stage suddenly changed with 12 kilometres to go. A big crash in the peloton brought Taaramae to the ground and, with him, the red jersey. Philipsen won the sprint.
Quiet stage in the first half
A stage very similar to yesterday's, today's route started in Tarancón and finished in Albacete. A little more than 180 kilometres of false flat with a tendency to a downhill stretch in the last section, which invited us to think about a sprint finish.
The morning seemed to go according to the script: breakaway, chase, sprint and Taaramae keeping the red. The risk to this established script was also clear: the winds and the crashes. And it was fulfilled step by step.
The first of these steps was the breakaway. As soon as the neutralised start was launched, again three Spanish riders attacked. Sánchez, from Burgos-BH; Lazkano, from Caja Rural; and Azparren, from Euskaltel, broke away and took four minutes in a breath, in just 10 kilometres. Over those four minutes, minute up, minute down, a safety distance was being established that the peloton allowed but did not relax one bit. When the clock went a little over 7 minutes, the peloton said it was enough.
The final section, on the Balcón de Alicante, was to be without an audience due to the weather conditions and the risk of fire. Less excitement, more head. The cyclists, oblivious to this, followed the initial script we mentioned step by step. The breakaway was pulling, the peloton did not let up in its efforts to control it. Alpecin and Deceuninck, both with important sprinters, collaborated in this task.
With 90 kilometres to go, the gap started to drop. The brave men were not helped by the headwind that began to blow, which meant they had a wall to fight against in vain. That advantage began to drop by a minute every 5 kilometres, so it seemed to be suffering without reward. The peloton has this vice: to make the fans believe (the escapee knows that, without incident, he will be caught in a heartbeat) by maintaining the advantage. But sometimes things happen.
A crash with 12 kilometres to go takes down the leader
And this thing happened with 11 kilometres to go. It was a very bad distance because it was not a neutralised zone and because there was not much time left to the finish line. The breakaway was not going to succeed, Lazkano's quixotic attempt had already been absorbed. But the crash had an influence right away, and that was the change of script in this stage 5.
That was the break in that written film. And because in the crash, the leader was there again. When teams with a red jersey in their ranks lead the peloton, it's not by chance. That's what happens when you don't have a big squad. Bardet, who was strong and in tune, was also left out. Mikel Nieve came off even worse.
The truth is that the peloton became so naked and all the teams had some injured, that they waited, put on the brakes and looked to reorganise again. So everything went back to the scheme that said that the sprint was what was going to happen. The cameras were looking for Taaramae, who was a long way behind the group. We were talking about gaps ranging from 3 to 5 minutes and they were going to be maintained, because the peloton started to pull again. The leader was about 2 minutes away, he was going to lose the lead if nothing changed.
And nothing changed. We came to the sprint and there was only one colour, the Alpecin colour, and one name, Philipsen's. The team did a tremendous job and Philipsen was the best placed with 100 metres to go. He finished it off and came in with a couple of bikes ahead of the rest, he was unrivalled today.
For the rest, a difficult stage, with the mountains on the horizon, and everything still to be decided.
- Philipsen, J. (Alpecin) | 4:24:41
- Jakobsen, F. (Deceuninck) | 4:24:41
- Dainese, A. (Sunweb) | 4:24:41
- Elissonde, K. (Trek) | 17:33:57
- Roglic, P. (Jumbo Visma) | +5
- Calmejane, L. (AG2R) | +10