Italian Adriano Malori (Movistar) won Friday’s individual time trial at the Tour de San Luis — a repeat win for the 26-year-old, who won the same stage in the Argentine race’s 2014 edition.
“I’m obviously really happy,” Malori said. “There’s no better way to start the season. 2014 was my best year as a pro cyclist and winning here gave me good luck for the rest of it, so I wanted to repeat that performance today.
“It wasn’t easy at all to win today. I wasn’t feeling really good and was dubious about my real level; besides, the heat played a huge impact, the wind also changed from the morning recon to this evening’s race. … All those things made it quite harder.”
The 17.4km time trial was held in sweltering conditions — nearing 100 degrees Fahrenheit at the start in San Luis.
With only about 360 feet of climbing, almost entirely in the second half of the out-and-back course, it was a stage that favored time trial specialists.
Early on in the day, David Williams (Jamis-Hagens Berman) set a best time of 21:10.10. Serghei Tvetcov (Androni-Giocattoli) soon unseated the American with a time of 20:36.40.
Canadian Hugo Houle (Ag2r-La Mondiale) was next in the hot seat, but then, last year’s winner of the Tour de San Luis time trial, Adriano Malori (Movistar) came in with a blistering time, besting Houle by five seconds.
Etixx-Quick-Step’s Michal Kwiatkowski, the Polish national TT champ, was next to crack the top three, stopping the clock four seconds shy of Malori’s time, good for second place.
After finishing, Malori noted that the wind was a significant factor in the final half of the race. “The last seven kilometers after the U-turn, with the slopes and the headwind, were absolutely hellish,” he said.
The overall race leader, Daniel Diaz (Funvic), stopped the clock at 20:49.89, finishing two seconds ahead of Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who started the day in fourth place overall. Rodolfo Torres (Team Colombia), second place overall, also ceded time on GC, finishing the individual effort in 20:58.13.
Alex Diniz (Funvic), who was sitting in third place overall, was forced to abandon on Friday, due to gastric problems. This moved Quintana into third place on GC, behind Diaz and Torres.
Malori held on to win stage 5, followed by Kwiatkowski in second and Houle, third.
“I’m really happy with my result,” Kwiatkowski said. “Four seconds behind a guy like Malori is something I can be happy with. But regardless of the result, I felt right on the road, from the start until the end. That’s proof that I was well-prepared until now. I did some basic training during the winter and I’m actually on the good level. That’s pretty surprising for me. But that proves I am going in the right direction at the beginning of the season. It was also really hot today, and I had to warm up inside which meant it was even hotter.”
Saturday’s stage 6 will subject the peloton to another major summit finish, riding 117.5km from Achiras to Filo Sierras Comechingones, a 4,167-foot climb averaging 7.8 percent.