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Ben Swift won stage 5 of the Vuelta al País Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) Friday in Markina-Xemein, Spain. Swift (Sky) survived the final of five rated climbs to win a reduced bunch sprint to take the 160-kilometer leg from Eibar.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was second and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) was third.
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) defended his 12-second overall lead on Valverde, despite the Movistar rider’s best efforts on the descent from the Cat. 2 Alto de Aiastia. The pair attacked high up on the climb with stage 4 winner Wout Poels (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) pinned to their wheels, but a chase group of roughly 20 riders caught the trio with 1.6km to go.
“I expected it, he was with enough desire and I supposed he will go to prove, especially when the Movistar pulled so hard,” Contador said in a press release. “It was also a good opportunity for the stage, but in the end the group behind had some Omega and BMC riders who wanted to push hard both for the stage and for not losing time in the overall and also there was a long flat finish. It was quite risky to continue, because if the at the last kilometer they take over you 10 or 15 seconds, you may regret it tomorrow”.
Tony Martin (Omega Pharma) led out the sprint for Kwiatkowski, but no one could match Swift at the line.
The Vuelta al País Vasco finishes Saturday with the 24km stage 6 individual time trial in Beasain.