La Vuelta a España Stage 5: Keisse Most Combative, Maes 10th in Alcalá de Guadaira Group Sprint
Etixx - Quick-Step rider Iljo Keisse earned the Combativity/Most Aggressive rider award in the 167.3km 5th Stage of La Vuelta a España on Wednesday, from Rota to Alcalá de Guadaira.
Keisse was part of a three-rider original breakaway, which formed when Keisse and Antoine Duchesne (Europcar) bridged to Tsgabu Grmay (Lampre-Merida) inside the first 20 kilometers of the stage. The Belgian rider of Etixx - Quick-Step — who shocked the Giro d'Italia peloton with a breakaway victory in the final stage this season — then decided to go solo with 18km left to race. He stayed away until 8.5km remained in the stage, and the peloton then prepared for the bunch arrival with technical final kilometers. Keisse won the award for combativity thanks to his extra effort after a long day out front.
Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE) won over John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo). Etixx - Quick-Step rider Nikolas Maes finished in 10th place.
Etixx - Quick-Step looks next to 200.3km Stage 6, from Córdoba to Sierra de Cazorla on Wednesday. La Vuelta returns to up-and-down racing after a brief respite with Wednesday's flatter profile. The peloton will have to pass plenty of undulation, and then decide the stage on a Category 3 climb.
"It's one of the few stages that suits me," Keisse said about the 5th Stage. "I'm not a sprinter, so I knew I had to do something else. But of course I knew with three riders it was impossible to stay away. It was one of the only sprint stages, so several teams were going to go full gas for the group arrival. But, you never know. There could be a crash at a key point, the wind can change, or if I have extremely good legs maybe I could do something special. I've done it a few times in my career. I'm one of the best examples of there always being a chance, but you have to try to know for sure. But today was extremely difficult. The first rider to attack that eventually led to our breakaway, he went away super early, so he was on his limit and couldn't contribute as much in the final. It was a hard day for him, and for all of us in the end. When I went solo there was a headwind and the road had a bit of uphill, so it was difficult to keep a good tempo. But I did my best, and am thankful my effort was recognized with the award as Most Aggressive Rider. I will see what I can do if there is another chance in the next days."