After being narrowly beaten by the faster-finishing Paddy Bevin (Avanti Racing Team) yesterday, Caleb Ewan was determined not to let the Kiwi get the better of him again today.
Throughout the 175km rain-dampened stage, the Oceanic teams played it cool, allowing a small group to hover in front for the majority of the race before clamping down at the foot of the final KOM, 6.9km from the finish. The modest category three KOM failed to ignite the anticipated fireworks, and it was once again a test of fast-twitch superiority for the sprinters. Ewan, beating Bevin by half a wheel, had the upper-hand today.
Amidst a brisk drizzle, the peloton controlled by Avanti Racing Team and ORICA-GreenEDGE maintained high speeds from the race start, suffocating any attacks within the first hour of racing. As the first KOM climb loomed into view (at 47.3km), a break containing five riders pulled ahead.
Extending their lead to a maximum of five minutes, the leaders rode over the first KOM climb and through the intermediate sprint classification (at 142.8km) unperturbed. KOM points went to Jang Kyunggu (Korail Cycling Team), while his KCT teammate Jung Hajeon collected maximum points in the Sprint classification. Jang swiftly fell back to the peloton, leaving four riders up front with a tenuous lead of less than three minutes.
Powered by Iranian riders in front, the peloton began clawing the leaders back ahead of the final KOM, positioned 4.5km from the finish. Jang (KCT) once again took maximum KOM points, thus reclaiming the Polka Dot jersey from Pishgaman Giant Team s Hamid Beykkhormizi.
As the break was reeled in with 3km to go, ORICA-GreenEDGE presented another masterclass in how to organise a leadout, pipping Bevin and Team Novo Nordisk s Andrea Peron for the stage win.
Commenting on the closely-fought sprints between Ewan and Bevin, ORICA-GreenEDGE team manager Dave McParland said after the stage, with three days to go, it will be under the pump. (Avanti Racing Team s) goals are similar to ours in terms of they ve got a super-fast guy, we ve got a super-fast guy, and we re happy to take them on one-on-one. They ve showed that they re happy to take us on one-on-one.
All day from the start I felt not as good as I have for the past few days reflected a relieved Ewan at the finish. I never felt comfortable. I was a bit worried going into that (final) climb. The guys said to me the only person I had to worry about following was Paddy Bevin, so I did that and, whenever he moved, I moved with him and it really took a lot out of me.
We re not going to ride for the (leader s) jersey, we re going to try to race and control it to get stage wins. We ll keep going for stage wins and, if the yellow jersey comes with it, then that s a massive bonus. As a sprinter, there aren t many opportunities you get to win a race overall so, not just because I have close ties to Korea, but just in general, it would be really nice to win an overall classification.
Friday s 193.7km sixth stage from Gangjin to Gunsan, commencing at 10:00KST (01:00GMT), sees the peloton begin its three-day northward journey towards the race s final destination, Seoul. With only a modest category four climb and a close GC, the main contest may very well be for time bonuses at the intermediate sprint, approximately 50km from the stage finish.
David McPartland (ORICA-GreenEDGE Team Manager)
They re (Drapac) in a hard spot, because their sprinter perhaps is not making it to the finish like ours (is), (or) like Bevin. Do they try and be aggressive, or do they try and save everything for their sprinter? It s a hard one, because in that climb there, (Wippert) wasn t there again. It doesn t surprise me to be honest, to be bluntly honest. The first time I ve been with Wippert in a race and his climbing is not as good as I thought.
LEADERBOARD Race Leader (Yellow jersey): Caleb Ewan (ORICA-GreenEDGE) Points Leader (Sky Blue jersey): Caleb Ewan (ORICA-GreenEDGE) King of the Mountains Leader (Polka-Dot jersey): Jang Kyunggu (Korail Cycling Team) Best Young Rider (White jersey): Caleb Ewan (ORICA-GreenEDGE)
Best Team: Avanti Racing Team
STAGE 5 RESULTS
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE FIVE