Report: Team Sky
Published: 22 August 2012
Chris Froome remains just one second off the race lead at the Vuelta a Espana after a sprint finish on stage five.
The Brit finished safely in the bunch after bringing himself to the fore on the approach to the three kilometre banner.
The team looked to set up Ben Swift for the sprint but with the peloton stretched out heading under the flamme rouge, the 24-year-old moved into position but faded as he opened up his kick.
On the line it was John Degenkolb who continued his momentum, the German (Argos-Shimano) timed his kick well to narrowly edge out Daniele Bennati (RadioShack-Nissan) on the line in Logrono to claim consecutive sprint wins.
Gianni Meersman (Lotto-Belisol) took third after the fast men duked it out inside the final kilometre on the Spanish streets.
Eight laps of a 21km circuit always looked destined to end in a bunch sprint and saw a huge fight for positioning inside the final 30 kilometres.
The sprint played into the hands of overnight leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) who was able to finish safely, maintaining his one-second lead over Froome. Rigoberto Urán also holds station in sixth.
The riders had 168 kilometres ahead of them on a day which looked like a much more straightforward prospect following two tough uphill finishes.
One man who wouldn't have an easy day was Javier Chacon (Andalucia), the Spaniard plugging away solo to build up a lead touching on 12 minutes before being gradually dragged back by the bunch.
Two intermediate sprint at the finish line broke up the action, with Swift in the mix to take two points at the first time of asking, upping his tally but also covering off threats to the bonus seconds on behalf of Froome.
The peloton were headed up by the red of Katusha after Rodriguez had moved into the race lead on Tuesday, with more teams joining in on the front as the end neared, the bunch holding Chacon at arm's length before finally putting him out of his misery with 28km to go.
Staying on target
After the stage Sports Director Nicolas Portal was happy to tick off a more straightforward day, albeit another stage in energy-sapping heat.
He said: “It felt like a long stage today and with just one rider out front the pace wasn’t too high. But with the hot weather and the sun bearing down it was still hard for the riders to keep the rhythm.
“The pace went up on the last lap when the GC teams and the sprinters’ teams came to the front to make their lead-outs but we managed to keep Froomey out of trouble which was the main objective.
“Swifty did well to move into position. In the sprint it was tightening up and there was a bit of contact but he didn’t quite have the kick at the end. We are in a good position and we will move on to the next stage.”
General Classification standings after Stage 5:
1 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 17:29:22
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:01
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank 0:00:05
4 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:09
5 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
6 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:00:11
7 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team 0:00:14
8 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:24
9 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:36
10 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:46