(Road Bike Action & AFP; Photo: Bettini)
Spain’s Astana rider Mikel Landa won the fifth stage of the Tour of the Basque Country on Friday as Colombia’s Sergio Henao clung to the overall lead. The 25-year-old Landa clocked 4hr 06min 01sec over the 155.5km stage, with nine categorized peaks, to lead home Belgian Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) and American Tom Danielson (Cannondale), the trio having made an early breakaway. Finishing 56 seconds down on the winner, Henao arrived at the finish neck-and-neck with Spain’s Katusha rider Joaquim Rodriguez. In the overall standings, Henao and Rodriguez are level on exactly the same time with just Saturday’s 18.3km time-trial to race.
“I don’t rule out anyone for the overall victory,” said Henao at the finish line. “The time-trials are tough and we all have our chances. Colombia’s Movistar rider Nairo Quintana had started the day on the same time as Henao and Rodriguez, but lost 12 seconds, allowing Simon Yates into third, at 7sec.
“I know that winning will be complicated for me even if the time gaps are small,” said Quintana. “I’ll be fighting to finish on the podium.”
In 2013, there was a similar scenario when Henao went into the final day as leader but was beaten by Quintana, who is a stronger rider in the race-against-the-clock, and came second on the day to pip his compatriot to victory.
“I don’t have a sufficient enough lead on Nairo (Quintana) with his qualities.” added Henao.
The route of Saturday’s finale races around Aia and finishes with a difficult summit finish.
1. Mikel Landa (ESP/AST) 4hr 06min 01sec
2. Tim Wellens (BEL/LTS) at 3sec
3. Tom Danielson (USA/TCG) 16
4. Rein Taaramae (EST/AST) 28
5. Tony Gallopin (FRA/LTS) 38
6. Simon Yates (GBR/OGE) 53
7. Sergio Luis Henao (COL/SKY) 56
8. Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 56
9. Tom Jelte Slagter (NED/TCG) 1:05
10. Alexis Vuillermoz (FRA/ALM) 1:06
11. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL/EQS) 1:08
1. Sergio Luis Henao (COL/SKY) 21hr 20min 48sec
2. Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) same time
3. Simon Yates (GBR/OGE) 7sec
4. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 12
5. Michele Scarponi (ITA/AST) 22
6. Simon Spilak (SLO/KAT) 22
7. Ilnur Zakarin (RUS/KAT) 28
8. Ion Izagirre (ESP/MOV) 28
9. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) 36
10. Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) 36