De Marchi, who claimed KOM points during his effort in the breakaway yesterday, took advantage of the early tactics on stage five which saw the peloton tightly controlling a fast start to the race.
With no attacks being allowed to go clear, De Marchi looked motivated as he scored maximum points at the top of all three opening climbs and as the race headed towards the fourth categorized ascent of the day, the Italian rider had already secured the polka dot jersey going into the final stage.
On the Arribinieta climb, the intense pace still being set saw the peloton explode with De Marchi and Víctor de la Parte sitting in the front group before more stinging attacks saw two riders open up a small advantage.
With 50 kilometers to go, approaching the foot of the Izua climb, which had a brutal gradient of a 24 percent in places, the CCC Team duo was riding in the yellow jersey group, one minute behind the leaders.
However, as the General Classification battle heated up on the steep slopes of the category one climb, the pair lost contact but de la Parte was able to rejoin the significantly reduced main bunch on the fast descent.
Three new leaders went clear going onto the penultimate climb and it was from this group that the solo stage winner, Emanuel Buchmann (BORA – hansgrohe), emerged.
At the start of the final five-kilometer long category one climb, which started just seven kilometers from the line and had an average gradient of 8.8 percent, de la Parte was able to stick with the chasing group but, as riders launched last bids for the stage win, the Spaniard slipped back.
In the end, de la Parte dug deep, riding his own tempo to finish as CCC Team’s best-placed rider in 17th place, just over three minutes behind the new race leader, and as a result, he moved back up into the top twenty on the General Classification.
De Marchi will line up at the start of the sixth stage in the red and white polka dot Etxeondo jersey, five points clear of the next two riders.
Quotes From the Finish Line:
Alessandro De Marchi:
“It was a super hard stage. At the start of the day, I tried to focus on going in any breakaways and my second goal was to try to take the jersey. But, in the end, my second goal became my first one because we saw immediately that the bunch didn’t want to let any moves go.”
“So, with a different type of start, I could save a bit more energy and stay with the first bunch. However, after spending so much energy in the first 90 kilometers, it was impossible for me to stay there until the end so, I took the decision to drop back and save my legs for tomorrow. We now have a jersey to defend.”
Víctor de la Parte:
“It was a really hard day and the racing was intense from kilometer zero. There was no opportunity for a breakaway to go out in front as we were really going full gas throughout the whole day. It was Deceuninck – Quick-Step who made the selection and both me and De Marchi were able to stay at the front before the first climb to Arrate. I think we did a really good job together and in the end, I was happy that I could stick with the front of the race for as long as I did.”
Gabriele Missaglia, Sports Director:
“It was a really crazy stage once again and at the start, all of our riders, including De Marchi, were trying to force a breakaway to go clear. But, when we saw that it wouldn’t be possible, we decided to target the KOM points with De Marchi. He was able to take maximum points on the first three climbs and now he leads the Mountains Classification. We will definitely try to keep hold of that jersey until the end of the race tomorrow.”
“De la Parte was our first rider across the line and he was looking really strong today as well. In the end, he was able to stick with the main General Classification contenders for most of the stage, only really dropping back in the final kilometers of the last climb. I think it is a pity that he lost time on yesterday’s cold and wet stage as he would have been further up the General Classification.”
Itzulia Basque Country
Stage 5: Arrigorriaga > Arrate (149.8km)
Top 3: 1. Emanuel Buchmann (BORA – hansgrohe) 2. Ion Izagirre (Astana Pro Team) 3. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT)
CCC Team Top 3: 17. Víctor de la Parte 64. Amaro Antunes 91. Alessandro De Marchi
Photos courtesy of Cor Vos