Just like Thursday Tim Wellens chose to join an early breakaway. Today his adventure was successful and he won the fifth and last stage of the Ruta del Sol!
After only a few kilometres of racing Tim got in front with seven others: Bravo, Campenaerts, Clarke, Minnaard, Novak, Paterski and van der Lijke. The escapees got more than six minutes advantage. In the finale Sport Vlaanderen did loads of work to come closer to the front group, but the peloton wouldn’t close the gap anymore. Six riders – Bravo and Minnaard had been dropped – battled for the stage win. They had enough time – 1’45” advantage at the finish – to poker. There were some accelerations, but eventually they sprinted for the first place in Coín. Tim Wellens won easily! Simon Clarke got second and Victor Campenaerts got third.
Tim Wellens: “There was a lot of headwind in the beginning of the stage. Everyone was attentive and nervous. Still, we could get away with eight on an uphill section. We had to ride very hard to build a sufficient lead. When the gap rose from four to six minutes I believed we would battle for the stage win. In the finale I tried to get rid of the others, but my attempt was unsuccessful. With twenty kilometres to go we had three minutes advantage left, a big enough margin. In the break we were all scared of each other. Everyone was looking at the others and no one could get away. I started sprinting at two hundred metres from the finish. Beforehand, I wasn’t certain at all that I would win the sprint, but it was actually pretty convincing. I like it more to win this way than to finish solo. If I can choose it can be exciting.”
“I know the area where we rode very well because I rented a house in Torremolinos last year and trained a lot on these roads. It’s nice to win here now. Last season I won four times. Now it’s half February and I have already won three races. I had never expected that a few weeks ago. My next goal will be Strade Bianche on 4 March. It’s the first time that I will take part in that race, but I believe that I can set a nice result.”
At the top of the classification nothing changed. Alejandro Valverde is the overall winner, with only one second lead on Alberto Contador. Jelle Vanendert finished fourteenth overall, while Bart De Clercq got twentieth.
At the Volta ao Algarve the last stage was scheduled as well today. Lotto Soudal goes home with one stage win, two jerseys and two riders on top ten of GC.
It took a while before a break was formed. Eventually 21 riders escaped, including André Greipel. The stage finished at Alto do Malhão, a three-kilometre long climb with gradients above 9%. The last escapees were caught on the climb. Amaro Antunes soloed to victory. Tiesj Benoot attacked in the last kilometres and claimed the third place, behind Vicente Garcia de Mateos. Tiesj is eighth in the overall ranking, at 1’42” of winner Primoz Roglic, and he wins the best young rider classification. Tony Gallopin, ninth today, moved from the fourth to the third place on GC still at 55” of Roglic. André Greipel, who won yesterday’s stage, goes home with the points jersey.