Itzulia Basque Country
Stage 5) Arrigorriaga - Arrate
Vuelta al Pais Vasco: Mas animates the queen stage
A patched up Enric Mas, consequence of the crashes in which our rider has been involved two days in a row, was one of the major instigators on the cracking stage 5, which travelled from Arrigorriaga to the mythical Santuario de Arrate and was ridden as a relentless pace as soon as the flag was dropped.
A plethora of attacks were fired off the front of the peloton, but to no avail, as the bunch was keen on keeping things together. When three riders eventually managed to break the deadlock, they weren’t allowed to put more than a minute between them and the chasers, who kept the speed high and made sure the peloton was back as one inside 70 kilometers to go.
On the fourth of the day’s seven classified climbs, Enric Mas went on the attack, splitting the field and cresting the summit in the lead. A regrouping took place in the valley, only for more attacks to be soon launched from the yellow jersey group, which numbered around 30 riders. Best young rider of the previous edition, Enric was on the move again, but a lack of cooperation by some members of the group spelled the end of their time at the front.
Twenty kilometers from the finish, three men rode away from the bunch and from there Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-hansgrohe) attacked and sailed to both the win and the leader’s jersey, more than a minute clear of the first chasers. Despite not being at his best due to the previous days’ events, Enric Mas gritted his teeth and pushed hard on the gruelling slopes of Arrate, crossing the line a few seconds behins the riders who rounded out the Friday’s podium.
With one day left at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Enric is Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s best placed rider in the general classification, where he sits in 12th place. On the final stage, punctuated by seven classified climbs and small “wall” which comes inside the closing four kilometers and features a 10% gradient, he’ll get another chance of making inroads in the overall standings.
Photo credit: ©Gonzalo Moreno Arroyo/ Getty Images