Richie Porte won stage five at Tour of Basque Country as Team Sky dominated
Richie Porte put the finishing touches on a supreme performance from Team Sky to win stage five at Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
Last Updated: 06/04/13 3:39pm
The Tasmanian capitalised on an incredible display of control from his team-mates on the toughest stage of the race before chipping clear heading into the final kilometre to win by four seconds.
Race leader Sergio Henao (Team Sky) was third into Beasain, narrowly edged out by Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) to retain the yellow jersey. The pair led home a group of seven riders, all finishing four seconds behind Porte.
Headed for the entire day by Team Sky, an already tough stage featuring 10 categorised climbs was made worse by torrential rain, sleet and even snow as the Basque Country again lived up to its reputation.
On the third passage over the steep ramps of the Alto de Olaberria it was Sanchez who took it up, increasing the pace after Team Sky's Vasil Kiryienka had finally pulled off, the Belarusian having spent an incredible prolonged stint on the front.
With the move of Sanchez splitting apart an already depleted peloton, Porte timed his move to perfection on the flat run-in, catching his rivals looking at one another as he opened up daylight and powered home his advantage.
Porte remains third overall, now level on time with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) six seconds back on Henao, who remained glued to the wheel of Sanchez in defence of yellow.
The race will be decided on Saturday with 24km time trial in Beasain.
The toughest day of the race saw the riders greeted with barely a flat kilometre following the stage start in Eibar.
A number of riders opted to climb off as Team Sky set about controlling the early moves, Joe Dombrowski and Jonathan Tiernan-Locke forced into action as a number of dangerous riders attempted to go clear.
Jose Herrada (Movistar) and Egor Silin (Astana) opened out a gap before being joined by seven further riders to form a strong group of nine.
Two more Movistar riders (Javier Moreno and Rui Costa) signally the team's intent, with the likes of Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) and Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) all combining to mount a dangerous challenge.
With a depleted team of six men it was then left to Xabier Zandio and Kiryienka to set about shutting down the gap, the pair swapping turns before Kiryienka was left to pull along the bunch from deep in the stage.
The sheer cumulative weight of climbing saw the front group begin to split - Herrada, Costa, Talansky, Navarro and Fuglsang ploughing on while Omar Fraile (Caja Rural) put in an impressive dig to bridge across and push onwards solo.
The penultimate time across the line the break were caught but Fraile ploughed on, opening out a gap in excess of a minute, only to be caught with a tantalising 6km to go.