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Samuel Sánchez led a high-speed chase on the descent to the finish. (©BMC/Graham Watson.)
Samuel Sánchez led a high-speed chase on the descent to the finish. (©BMC/Graham Watson.)

Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Stage 5: Leading The Pursuit

11. April 2014

BMC Racing Team's Samuel Sánchez led a high-speed pursuit for teammates Cadel Evans and Tejay van Garderen Friday at Vuelta al Pais Vasco to help reel in a leading trio that threatened to take more time ahead of Saturday's final stage individual time trial.

The Course:
Comprising several of the climbs from Stage 4, the 160.2-kilometer race from Eibar topped the final mountain less than 10 km from the finish in Markina-Xemein.

Gilbert In The Breakaway:
BMC Racing Team's Philippe Gilbert bridged a 20-second gap to join a breakaway of about 20 riders after 50 km. The group was not given much freedom and began splitting up on the final climb, the Alto de Aiastia.

Big Attack:
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) attacked with 9.5 km to go and only race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Stage 4 winner Wouter Poels (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) could follow. The trio topped the climb with a 19-second advantage, but Sánchez's efforts at the front of the chase closed the gap with 1.7 km left.

The Finish:
Ben Swift (Team Sky) won the sprint of 22 riders ahead of Valverde and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). Evans was 10th, van Garderen was 15th and Sánchez was 19th, all in the same time.

In The Overall Standings:
Contador leads Valverde by 12 seconds. Evans in fourth, is tied on time with third-placed Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida) and two others, 36 seconds back. Sánchez, in 10th, is 56 seconds off the lead, while van Garderen is a further two seconds back.

Nerz Withdraws:
Dominik Nerz withdrew midway through the stage, still nursing injuries from a crash when a car struck him on the descent to the team's motorcoach after the finish of Thursday's stage. "Overall, this race was not my race," Nerz said. "I had really bad luck on the first day when I had just passed the important climb in the first group. I had a technical and had to wait for a new bike and got dropped into the last group. I had felt pretty good, but then I was out of the GC (general classification) and lost a bit of my morale. Yesterday, after the race, I was unlucky again because I was hit by a car in the corner. I crashed badly on my hip and my shoulder."

The Final Stage:
Saturday's 25.9-km time trial on a looping route features two climbs averaging six percent.

What Evans Said:
"It was another difficult, intense stage and I saw a lot of tired riders in the group. I am feeling the fatigue as well. It has only been a short race, but it has been a very hard and a very intense race. Looking toward the time trial, it is important for the overall. I think it is going to be interesting because it is a really hard time trial, with two quite long climbs. Coming after five days of really hard racing, it will be not just a person's ability to climb and time trial but also their ability to recover from these hard, intense days."

What Sport Director Valerio Piva Said:
"The object was to jump in the breakaway and Gilbert made a nice move to join them. We had everyone around our leaders on the final climb. It was fantastic job by Samuel to close the gap in the last two kilometers. Today, it was only possible to stay in the position for tomorrow. We hope we can jump onto the podium with one of our guys."

Listen to complete comments on the BMC Racing Team Audio Line.

View photos from the race in the BMC Racing Team's Flickr gallery.