Criterium du Dauphiné
- Stage 5 -
110 km of solitary and victorious breakaway, riding at almost 42 km/h average over a stage of 220 km and 3000m of total climbing: "chapeau" to the wonderful performance of Axel Merckx.
More than 5 hours of furious racing, the day after the Mt. Ventoux stage (which was flewn at over 44 km/h!), showed us the excellent endurance skills of Axel, who was able to drop his 12 breakaway companions on the Col de Grimone (2°cat).
With 75 km to go he had a gap of 4'05" on the immediate chasers; the peloton passed quietly at 14'.
The race got hard and selective, both for the course and the wind; Landaluze and Mazzoleni shot out of the chasing gruppetto, brining down the gap to 2'50" with 35km to go.
Axel reacted furiously and with particular efficacy: 28km to the finish he brought back his advantage to 3'10", Landaluze being the virtual yellow jersey; the peloton, or rather what remained of it, started to chase very hard, yet with a gap of 14' on the leader...
On top of the last Cote, Axel's gap was 3'20" on a lone Landaluze chasing; the main bunch, reduced to a mere 30 riders, passed by at 11'.
On the finish line Merckx had 2' on the excellent basque rider, who eventually got the leader's jersey.
And tomorrow the "tappa Regina" awaits the riders, with over 4000m of climbing...