IT’S all-change in chaotic finish to Vuelta stage, writs JOHN TREVORROW:
A MASS crash only 11 km from the finish of stage 5 of the Vuelta a España saw race leader Rein Taaramäe (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) hit the deck for the second day in a row.
Jasper Philipsen won his second stage, in the hectic sprint finish after his Alpecin Fenix team delivered him perfectly to the front making amends for his brain fade the previous day. The Belgian beat Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) to the line, with Alberto Dainese (Team DSM) taking third. The stage victory and his intermediate sprint win saw him take the Green jersey from Jakobsen by one pointEmbed from Getty Images
More than half the peloton was caught up in the huge pile up which was caused by a simple touch of wheels near the front of the bunch and unfortunately for Taaramae the crash happened outside the protected 3 km to go point and, although unhurt, the Estonian took too long to get mobile and although only slightly injured, the Estonian crossed the line in 125th place, 2:26 down, losing 26 places overall.
“I was stuck with riders on top of me for what seemed an eternity. It was very frustrating,” Taaramae said. “But I would only have kept the lead for a few days more and then probably I’d have lost it anyway” the surprisingly reflective Taaramae said.
Diminutive Frenchman Kenny Elissonde (Trek Segafredo) managed to miss the carnage and has moved into the lead but only five seconds clear of race favourite Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma). “This is not the way I wanted to take the jersey but we know in cycling when there is wind, there is risk,” Elissonde said.
Frenchman Romain Bardet was the biggest loser as he hit very hard and really struggled to remount. His trusty DSM teammate Chris Hamilton stayed with him and tried to limit the losses but it was to no avail and they finished in the final group twelve and a half minutes behind.
Aussie Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) looks to have dropped away in form and in his race for the green points jersey. He was delivered into a good position in the finale by his ever trusty sidekick Luka Mezgec and Rob Stannard but he lost the wheel and finished a disappointing 25th. He will need a reversal of form as we move into the tougher terrain if he is to re-join the battle for Green.