OPATIJA, April 22nd, 2017 – Jaime Roson of Caja Rural – Seguros celebrated a huge win in 5th, queen stage of Tour of Croatia, simultaneously overtaking lead in general classification. Spaniard fought for a sprinting victory in finishing climb to Poklon at Ucka mountain, beating his main rival for overall triumph, great Vincenzo Nibali of Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team, in a direct duel. Last day of the competition Roson will enter Sunday with two seconds’ advantage over Nibali. If he and his team preserve themselves of unforgiveable errors tomorrow, Roson will be 3rd winner of Tour of Croatia.
The penultimate stage of the race through the national beauty has been ridden from Porec to Ucka totalling 141 kilometres. The stage started with a minute of silence for Michele Scarponi who died this morning in an accident in Italy during training ride. There was pair of separate ascending to Ucka, which depleted main group only partially. All until five kilometres to go big leading group looked complete and stable.
Breakaways have been taken all the way from Porec as expected. Six riders were included in first one - Lukasz Owsian (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Luis Guillermo Mas Bonet (Caja Rural-Seguros), Antonio Parrinello (GM Europa Ovini), Daniel Andres Rozo Velez (Bicicletas Strongman), Kazushige Kuboki (Nippo – Vini Fantini) and - quite predictably - Daniel Turek (Israel Cycling Academy). Artem Nych of Gazprom-Rusvelo joined frontrunners shortly after and seven-men leading group has gone to create almost two-minute advantage quite soon. About 40 kilometres to go leading group dismantled, leaving only Owsian, Mas Bonet and Parrinello to do the job. Their advantage, stretched to 1:20 at one point, melted down about 10 kilometres to go. They were pushed at most by Bahrain-Merida train of riders, as the team was directly interested to enable Nibali ultimate surrounding for closing the race down.
Several individual breakaway efforts have been undertaken in following kilometres, but none of them did matter as Bahrain-Merida pushed furthermore. In final three kilometres of the race Nibali has been brought by his own domestique Franco Pellizotti. The duo of Bahrain-Merida succeeded to separate majority of the group, but not persistant Roson and Jan Hirt of CCC Sprandi Polkowice, who both tracked down the pace in relaxed fashion.
With Pelizzoti's sidelining, Nibali undertook a single attack on his own 2.2 kilometres to go. It turned out to be too prudent towards Hirt and especially Roson, who found just enough of time for refreshment and turning down Nibali's offer to take over the pace upfront. Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) and Felix Grossschartner (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) joined the leading threesome abruptly, exploiting the slowing down of pace. Finally, what was offered to him a bit earlier, Roson took on uninvitedly just before final 300 metres, going on for a break which neither Nibali nor Hirt weren't capable to answer.
Although it looked like a more convincing win than just for a length of the bike, all three best riders were given the same winning time. Time bonus however, placed Roson on top of overall ranking two seconds ahead of Nibali. It ensures him quite comfortable position prior to closing stage, which takes part on Sunday from Samobor to Zagreb totalling 147 kilometres.
Last day of the competition young Spaniard will also enter as the leading rider in King of the Mountain classificiation (green jersey). Nicola Ruffoni (CSF Bardiani) holds blue jersey (points classification), Michal Schlegel white one (best young rider), while CCC Sprandi Polkowice owns honor of the best team participating.
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