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Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) nabbed his first ever Vuelta a España stage victory on Saturday in Sabiñanigo.
The 29-year-old Belgian, no stranger to spending time off the front, joined a break that formed near the midway point of the stage and then attacked out of the group alongside Thymen Arensman (Sunweb). Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) bridged up to them to make it a trio at the head of the race, and the three riders managed to stay away to the finish.
Martin and Wellens pulled away from Arensman on the uphill run to the line and then Wellens left Martin behind in the final hundred meters to take a convincing win. A little over two minutes behind the three leaders, race leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) was the next rider across the line. Behind, Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) was caught up in a crash a little ways before the line, but was given the same time as the main group of GC riders and thus remains in second overall.
The 184.4-kilometer stage from Huesca featured a mostly flat first half and a lumpy second half, with a second-category climb, a third-category climb, and another second-category climb on the approach to Sabiñanigo. The profile was an enticing one for a breakaway, which made for a long battle to try to form the move as riders went clear and were brought back in the early goings. Nothing really stuck until around the midpoint of the stage, where Wellens, Martin, and Arensman were part of a group of about a dozen riders, which also included Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), jumping off the front with a little over 80km to go.
Wellens and Arensman did not wait long to attack out of that group, powering clear on the approach to the first climb of the day. Martin then jumped in an attempt to bridge. As the rest of the escapees were reeled back in by the peloton, Martin pressed on in pursuit of Wellens and Arensman and eventually caught on. From there, the three breakaway riders went up and over the remaining climbs and rolled into the finale together.
Arensman attacked in the uphill run to the line and distanced Martin, but Wellens closed Arensman down and Martin caught back on. Wellens and Martin then dropped Arensman to battle for the win between themselves. Wellens left Martin behind in the final hundred meters to take a convincing win, with Martin settling for second and Arensman in third.
A little over two minutes later, Roglic was the fourth rider over the line. He finished a few seconds ahead of the rest of the GC riders, but those who were in the front selection at the time of the late crash were all given the same time on the day.
Top 10, stage 5
1 WELLENS Tim (Lotto Soudal) 4:19:25
2 MARTIN Guillaume (Cofidis, Solutions Crédits) 0:04
3 ARENSMAN Thymen (Team Sunweb) 0:12
4 ROGLIC Primoz (Team Jumbo-Visma) 2:13
5 GROSSSCHARTNE Felix (BORA – hansgrohe)
6 ARANBURU Alex (Astana Pro Team)
7 BENNETT George (Team Jumbo-Visma)
8 SIMON Julien (Team Total Direct Energie)
9 CARAPAZ Richard (INEOS Grenadiers)
10 GODON Dorian (AG2R La Mondiale)
Top 10, GC
1 ROGLIC Primoz (Team Jumbo-Visma) 20:52:31
2 MARTIN Dan (Israel Start-Up Nation) 0:05
3 CARAPAZ Richard (INEOS Grenadiers) 0:13
4 MAS Enric (Movistar Team) 0:32
5 CARTHY Hugh (EF Pro Cycling) 0:38
6 KUSS Sepp (Team Jumbo-Visma) 0:44
7 GROSSSCHARTNER Felix (BORA – hansgrohe) 1:17
8 CHAVES Esteban (Mitchelton-Scott) 1:29
9 SOLER Marc (Movistar Team) 1:55
10 BENNETT George (Team Jumbo-Visma) 1:57
More to come …