For the second day in a row, the peloton opted not to chase down the break of the day and the stage victory went to one of the four Pro Continental teams in the race, as Cofidis’s Jesús Herrada claimed his first Grand Tour success, compensating for his elder brother José’s defeat to Burgos-BH duo Madrazo and Bol 24 hours earlier.
However, on this occasion the bunch’s decision not to commit also resulted in the red jersey changing hands, Bahrain’s Dylan Teuns moving into the lead as a result of finishing second on the stage, almost six minutes ahead of Miguel Ángel López, who for the second time this week was knocked out of first place after just one day.
When it became clear that López and his Astana team were happy to let the jersey go and relinquish the pressure of defending it, Ineos’s David de la Cruz looked the favourite to inherit it as the highest placed rider in the break, especially as the punchy finish at Ares del Maestrat would normally have suited him very well. But the Spaniard has looked some distance below his best since the Vuelta got under way, and his 11-second advantage over Teuns never looked likely to be enough once the Belgian made his attack four kilometres from the finish.
For Teuns, this was a third big success in as many months. Winner of the second stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné in June, the Bahrain-Merida rider bagged the biggest win of his career in July at the Tour de France when he outlasted Giulio Ciccone at La Planche des Belles Filles. Very talented and racing on a wave of confidence, he is now leading a Grand Tour for the first time.
Analysis: Once Astana eased off with its front-of-the-peloton pace-making to allow a rider in the breakaway to move into the red jersey, David de la Cruz and Dylan Teuns were best placed to benefit. The pair appeared well matched and were clearly keeping a close watch on each other coming onto the final climb, with 6km to the line. Teuns needed to gain 11 seconds, and made a strong attack to test out his Ineos rival with 3.9km to the line, too strong as it turned out for De la Cruz. With one swoop, the contest was over.
Stage 5 - Madrazo leads in the stars
Teams that gain a wild card selection to big races like the Vuelta a Espana always want to prove that they are worthy of their place, and Burgos-BH did that in the best fashion on the Vuelta’s new summit at the Observatorio Astrofísico de Javalambre, outshining the race’s major stars with a 1-2 finish thanks to rider of the day Ángel Madrazo and teammate Jetse Bol.
Stage 4 - Jakobsen seals a superb team effort with his first Grand Tour success
Stage 3 - Sam Bennett smashes the sprint
Stage 2 - Armee rides with heart
Stage 1 - Lopez superb in opening team time trial
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