After the sweltering heat of the first few days, rain and cooler temperatures saw the riders donning rain jackets and arm warmers on Stage 5. A half-hearted breakaway of only two riders, Tiago Machado and Julien Morice, was caught 14 km from the finish by the peloton looking for a sprint finish.
But the main talking point of the day was a big crash caused by a metre high pole on the left hand side of the road 2.5km from the finish. It took out luckless Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk who suffered a broken collarbone as result, putting him out of the race. Earlier this year he crashed in the Giro and off the podium with a disappointing fourth place.
Organisers have apologized for not removing the obstacle. Cycling weekly reported that José Luis de Santos, president of the Spanish riders association said, “The Vuelta looked over it, it was a mistake and wrong, it was our fault.” Kruijswijk was understandably distraught at being forced out of the race: “It’s terrible that I have to leave this race because of an object that shouldn’t have been there…I’m really fed up about the way I’m leaving the Vuelta.”
Belgium’s Gianni Meersman was lucky that he was on the other side of the road to the pole and went on to win the sprint finish. Darwin Atapuma, the race leader was caught up behind the crash and lost more than a minute but his time was reinstated under the 3km rule. He retains the red jersey, with Valverde in second, Froome four seconds behind him in third.