Mark Cavendish is still waiting for the Vuelta stage win that will complete his hat-trick of stage victories in cycling's three Grand Tours after Tyler Farrar of Garmin-Transitions came out of the Manxman's slipstream to overhaul him on the line in Lorca after a long day that saw the peloton spend a shade over five hours in the saddle.
The HTC-Columbia rider seemed to be nowhere near the front of the race as the peloton swept round the final right hander for the final approach to the line, but suddenly appeared through the mass of riders on the barriers and looked poised to take the win.
However, with a few hundred metres left, it turned out that he had made his move too early as the American, who revealed afterwards that he had been ill all day yesterday and overnight, overhauled him at the line.
Koldo Fernandez of Euskaltel-Euskadi also finished strongly, passing Cavendish just short of the line, and the British rider had to settle for third place. Philippe Albert of Omega Pharma-Lotto remains in the race leader's red jersey, which Cavendish had worn on Stages 2 and 3 after his HTC-Columbia team won Saturday evening's team time trial in Seville.
With a steady, fast descent in prospect over the closing 60km or so, this stage always seemed destined to end with a sprint finish, and so it proved as the peloton kept a watchful gaze on today’s four man break, comprising the French riders Arnaud Labbe of Cofidis and Pierre Rolland of Bbox Bouygues Telecom plus the Spanish pair of Jose Vincente Toribio Alcolea from Andalucia-Cajasur and Footon-Servetto’s David Gutierrez.
The escapees were eventually swept up some 13km from the finish of the 199km stage as the leading sprinters’ teams upped the pace to get to the front and keep their men out of trouble ahead of the finale.
Prior to the start of today’s stage, the peloton observed a minute’s silence for Laurent Fignon who died yesterday. The two-time Tour de France winner will be buried on Friday at the Père Lachaise cemetery in his native Paris, the final resting place of the likes of Doors singer Jim Morrison and the writer Oscar Wilde.
Vuelta Stage 5 result 1 FARRAR, Tyler Garmin-Transitions 5h 03' 36" 2 FERNÁNDEZ, Koldo Euskaltel-Euskadi (all same time) 3 CAVENDISH, Mark HTC-Columbia 4 TOSATTO, Matteo Quickstep 5 PETACCHI, Alessandro Lampre-Farnese Vini 6 CHAVANEL, Sébastien Francaise des Jeux 7 FÖRSTER, Robert Milram 8 GALIMZYANOV, Denis Katusha 9 BOS, Theo Cervelo TestTeam 10 VAN AVERMAET, Greg Omega Pharma-Lotto 11 FREIRE, Óscar Rabobank 12 HUTAROVICH, Yauheni Francaise des Jeux 13 ORTEGA, Manuel Andalusia-Cajasur 14 BONNET, William Bbox Bouygues Telecom 15 BENNATI, Daniele Liquigas-Doimo 16 RABUÑAL, Gonzalo Xacobeo-Galicia 17 FRÖHLINGER, Johannes Milram 18 CARDOSO,Manuel Footon-Servetto 19 KASHECHKIN, Andrey Lampre-Farnese Vini 20 HINAULT, Sébastien AG2R-La Mondiale Vuelta overall standings after Stage 5 1 GILBERT, Philippe Omega Pharma-Lotto 19h 00' 06" 2 ANTON, Igor Euskaltel-Euskadi + 10" 3 RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin Katusha + 10" 4 NIBALI, Vincenzo Liquigas-Doimo + 12" 5 VELITS, Peter HTC-Columbia + 16" 6 VAN GARDEREN, Tejay HTC-Columbia + 29" 7 TONDO, Xavier Cervelo TestTeam + 49" 8 SCHLECK, Frank Team Saxo Bank + 50" 9 PLAZA, Ruben Caisse d'Epargne + 54" 10 MOSQUERA, Ezequiel Xacobeo-Galicia + 55" 11 ROCHE, Nicholas AG2R La Mondiale + 58" 12 BRUSEGHIN, Marzio Caisse d'Epargne + 1' 01" 13 MENCHOV, Denis Rabobank + 1' 11" 14 URAN, Rigoberto Caisse d'Epargne + 1' 19" 15 DANIELSON, Thomas Garmin-Transitions + 1' 21" 16 SÁNCHEZ, Luis León Caisse d'Epargne + 1' 24" 17 KARPETS, Vladimir Katusha + 1' 24"
18 PERAUD, Jean-Christophe Omega Pharma-Lotto + 1' 33"
19 TEN DAM, Laurens Rabobank + 2' 08"
20 NIEVE, Mikel Euskaltel-Euskadi + 2' 14''
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.