AFTER EXERTING AN incredible amount of energy on Stage Four’s ascent of Sierra Nevade, Katusha’s Daniel Moreno spent most of Wednesday’s fifth stage in the service of his team leader, Joaquim Rodriguez.
As the 187km stage rolled to its climax on the ramp approaching Valdepenas de Jean, a short but demanding climb with a gradient of nearly 23%, Moreno’s decision to set a rhythm at the head of the field effectively ended his own hopes of a stage victory, but paved the way for a late sprint from his teammate and compatriot.
Coming less than 24-hours after his own heroics on the slopes of Sierra Nevada threw his hat into the General Classification ring, Moreno’s willingness to martyr his own hopes in the interest of the team will surely be remembered as one of the more heartening displays of this year’s race.
Rodriguez eventually took the stage victory ahead of Vacansoleil’s Wouter Poels, with Moreno finishing third.
A small band of race favourites, including Michele Scarponi, Jurgen van den Broek and Ireland’s Nicolas Roche finished eight seconds adrift of Moreno, with the defending champion, Liguigas’ Vincenzo Nibali, a further three seconds behind.
A good day in the saddle for Roche was balanced by a poor one for his cousin, Dan Martin, and the two riders now find themselves side-by-side in the GC ranking, in 25th and 24th place, respectively.
Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel retains the red jersey heading into tomorrow’s 193km stage, which will see the peloton make its way from Úbeda to Córdoba.