Sir Bradley Wiggins retains Tour of Britain lead in Caerphilly
Sir Bradley Wiggins retained his lead in the IG Gold Jersey following Stage Five through the heart of Wales. The Sky Pro Cycling rider finished seventh as Irishman Sam Bennett took the stage win in Caerphilly, heading Michal Golas and Martin Elmiger in the sprint outside Caerphilly Castle.
Bennett was part of a 15 rider group that came together on the final descent of another hilly day, which once again was struck early on by bad weather for the Machynlleth start.
The double ascent of Caerphilly Mountain was once again lined by crowds, with Dan Martin and Nairo Quintana rewarding their support by going clear on the second climb. The duo were joined on the descent by Sergio Pardilla, but a chasing group led by Ian Stannard and David Lopez brought Wiggins and co back into contention for the finale on Crescent Road.
"It was certainly the toughest finish, during the day wasn't as hard as yesterday with less wind and a bit warmer,” said Wiggins afterwards.
"But once we hit the circuit it was definitely anyone who had the legs. We knew Dan Martin and Quintana were going to attack so we just used the team for as long as possible. The team again today took the strain and I didn't have to hit the front once.”
"It's a perfect day and tomorrow's another tough one and I certainly wouldn't underestimate it.”
Not underestimating anything was Stage Five winner Bennett, who sealed the biggest win of his career to date, following on from second behind Gerald Ciolek in Kendal.
"I didn't expect to get second the other day so that was a great result for myself and to get first place today is unbelievable, I can't believe it,” said the AN Post Chain Reaction rider.
"I knew coming here that I was going to be in the shop window and really wanted to show what I'm made of. I've been aiming for this for a few months now, trying to get consistency. I have consistency now at the minute and hopefully now there's more to come.”
Fittingly with his trade team sponsor also appearing on the jersey Bennett moves in the lead of the Chain Reaction Cycles Points Jersey, just one point ahead of Elmiger and Jack Bauer.
Day five honours in the Rouleur Combativity Award went to Bauer's Garmin Sharp teammate Jacob Rathe, who spent much of the stage on the attack with Peter Williams, Angel Madrazo and Stefano Pirazzi.
With Caerphilly Mountain awaiting though and a stage Wiggins had predicted would be pivotal the quartet were never going to be given their head, setting up the race for an exciting finale up the steep sides of the packed mountain.
Following Stage Five Wiggins retains his 37-second lead over teammate Stannard, with Elmiger moving four seconds closer thanks to time bonuses for his third place.
Alex Dowsett drops out of the top ten after losing time, while Simon Yates and Dan Martin move up to eight and ninth respectively having made the front group in Wales.
Movistar's Madrazo moves into the lead of the Yodel Direct Sprints Jersey as well as keeping his comfortable lead in the SKODA King of the Mountains jersey.
Will Stephenson (Rapha-Condor JLT) finished safely in the bunch and moves up to 59th position on GC @ 12:53.
Stage Six sees the first ever summit finish in The Tour's history as the Devon stage ends atop Haytor in Dartmoor. On the 139-kilometre stage the 99 riders remaining in The Tour will tackle a sea to summit route, taking them from Sidmouth on the Jurassic Coast to Dartmoor, via the centre of Exeter.
Live coverage of Stage Six is on ITV4 and British Eurosport from 13:00 with highlights on ITV4 at 19:00 on Friday 20 September.
For full results of Stage Five, please click here.