At 212 km, Stage 5 was the longest stage of this year's "Volta" Ciclista a Catalunya, A.E. and it was another mountainous day with three big climbs.
All of BMC Racing Team was given the green light to try for the break after time gaps opened up following Stage 4. I could definitely feel some fatigue from yesterday’s big effort, and although I made a few attempts in the fast downhill start, I was happy to see my teammate Danilo get some daylight between him and the peloton in a strong group to keep him company.
Movistar once again exerted their cyborg-like control and kept the gap around 3 to 4 minutes, but they seemed ok with letting the break stay away if no other team wanted to close it down. There were a few strong teams who had missed the break, but I think many were discouraged knowing that if they closed the gap, Valverde would probably again take the win on the technical downhill finish with the final climb most likely thinning things out.
There were some attacks over the final climb, which lifted the speed dramatically, and after a bonkers downhill (which included a five-kilometer tunnel where we averaged about 80 km/hour for 5 minutes), we caught Danilo’s group on the line as he sprinted to a solid fifth place.
I did my best to stay up front and find the balance between keeping myself in good position to sprint if it came back together but not taking anything too crazy through those final corners.
I'm happy to be done with this long stage; another long one at almost 200 km tomorrow and it looks like it’s going to be a wet and cold one. Catalunya always proves to be a relentless week as there is no TT or shorter day to catch your breath. My two other races this season have included TTs and ended after five days, so hoping my body responds well. I am looking forward to bagging the added depth that comes from two more hard stages.