Alejandro Valverde (Caisse D'Epargne) today did his best to ensure that if the UCI are to end his season prematurely (and the next one too) that he at least has a chance of going out with a win at the Dauphiné Libéré.
The Spanidard attacked decisively today on the slopes of Mont Ventoux and now heads the general classification of the race he won last year. Sylvester Szmyd (Liquigas) who spent last month's Giro pacing Pellizotti up steep hills was the only rider who could stay with him and he duly collected the stage win for his efforts.
A four man day long break had only just been caught within a few kilometres of the bottom of the Ventoux when Valverde attacked out of a group containing all of the race favourites, none were willing or able to respond. Given the mountains that they face in stages six, seven, and eight that latter should be more likely. Ivan Basso and teammate Szmyd then attacked out of the group, but Basso could not stand the pace and dropped back leaving the way clear fro Szmyd and Valverde.
The Liquigas rider rode around Valverde at the finish to claim the stage, Valverde's reward for his aggressive approach is a 16 second lead over Cadel Evans (Silence Lotto) who is again back in 2nd place, and 1:04 over Alberto Contador of Astana.
In his quest for a win Valverde though is not only racing against the rest of the field, but also the European postal system which, as we reported yesterday, should even now be winging a letter from the Italian federation to the UCI regarding the evidence on which the Italians used to ban Valverde from riding in Italy for two years. The UCI have said that if they feel the evidence supports a ban they will make Valverde's ban a world wide one.
Britain's David Millar (Garmin Slipstream) finished the stage in 11th place and moves up to fourth in the general classification.
Tomorrow's stage of the race tackles the Hors Category climb of the Izoard and on Saturday the similarly tough Galibier and Croix de Fer before ending in Grenoble on Sunday.
Top 10 Dauphiné Libéré Stage 5 1) Sylvester Szmyd (Liquigas) 4.05.04 (37.704 km/h) 2) Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Caisse d'Epargne) 3) Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Astana) 1.14 4) Robert Gesink (Rabobank) 1.50 5) Jacob Fuglsang (Team Saxo Bank) 1.59 6) Cadel Evans (Silence - Lotto) 2.10 7) David Moncoutié (Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne) 2.13 8) Alberto Contador Velasco (Astana) 9) Vicenzo Nibali (Liquigas) 2.16 10)Vladimir Efimkin (AG2R La Mondiale) 2.20 Top 10 General classification after stage 5 1) Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Caisse d'Epargne) 15.23.17 2) Cadel Evans (Silence - Lotto) 0.16 3) Alberto Contador Velasco (Astana) 1.04 4) David Millar (Garmin - Slipstream) 1.43 5) Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Astana) 2.21 6) Robert Gesink (Rabobank) 2.34 7) Vicenzo Nibali (Liquigas) 8) Mikel Astarloza Charreau (Euskaltel - Euskadi) 2.44 9) Sylvester Szmyd (Liquigas) 3.05 10) Jacob Fuglsang (Team Saxo Bank) 3.35
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.