With 4km left of racing, Giulio Ciccone was safely set to win his first-ever GC race having a handful of seconds advantage over his rivals. Rui Costa was sat a provisional 5th place in GC, 15 seconds back only for a late attack from the Portuguese former world champion to secure him the stage and overall victory in Valencia.
Held on the same course as the Vuelta CV Feminas earlier in the day, the stage started with a breakaway by Alessandro de Marchi, Samuele Battistella & Davide Gabburo who had a lead of over 2 minutes at the base of the first climb of the day – the Oronet. Like the women’s race it was the second climb of the stage, La Frontera, that broke the race into pieces.
Bora Hansgrohe set the pace into it, hoping to set up their GC rider Aleksandr Vlasov. By the summit there were just 8 riders in the front group – Ciccone, Geoghegan Hart, Arensman, Vlasov, Bilbao, Soler and McNulty. Rui Costa caught the group shortly afterwards and Samuele Battistella was gamely hanging on from the break.
The gap was only 30 seconds but that was enough to keep the group ahead of a chasing group of around 20 riders, in no small part to the work done by Thymen Arensman for his leader Tao Geoghegan Hart. In an intermediate sprint with 9km to go, Pello Bilabo took the 3 bonus seconds ahead of Geoghegan Hart and Ciccone as the final GC looked like maybe shifting by the end of the day for the first time.
With 2.5km to go, Thymen Arensman of Ineos Grenadiers made his move from a breakaway group of 9 riders that included race leader Giulio Ciccone. Rui Costa of Intermarché-Circus-Wanty was the only rider to match the move. They managed to hold off the chase by a few seconds at the line with the GC complicated by a crash in the final corner by Stage 4 winner Tao Geoghegan Hart. A neck-and-neck sprint-a-deux between Arensman and Costa saw the Portuguese rider take the win, plus the bonus seconds that ensured a first general classification victory since the Abu Dhabi Tour back in 2017. Giulio Ciccone, who won stage 2, finished second overall. Stage 4 winner Tao Geoghegan Hart completed the podium, finishing on the same time under the final 3km crash rule.
Intermarché-Circus-Wanty is already up to 6 wins in the 2023 season, with 3 coming this week at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. It’s an impressive haul for the Belgian team that was elevated into the WorldTour from 2023.
“I’m very happy I could do this, I had a great change of team and they believed in me from the start. Things have started well, but I never expected I could do this well. I suffered on a mid-race climb, but I could get through it and across to the lead group on the drop-down afterwards. To be honest I never thought the break would stay away. But I played my last card and thanks to that, I got the stage win and the overall. Amazing!”Rui Costa
Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Stage 5 results
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