No change in the GC as Joaquim Rodriguez retains the leader's red jersey. Tomorrow the race hits the foothills of the Pyrenees with a punch Cat.3 summit finish.
Logroño - Logroño
Vuelta a España - 22 August 2012
Vuelta a España – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 12:40 on 22 August 2012. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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John Degenkolb takes the victory ahead of Daniele Bennati and Giovanni Meersman.
Bennati opened up the sprint early and Swift sat up very quickly. Degenkolb powers through and it looks to be a photo finish. The German thinks the win is his, but we'll have to wait for confirmation.
Lotto Belisol drive the pace but Argos have a solid position...
It's pretty chaotic as we enter the final kilometre...
RadioShack driving the peloton into Logrono through Linus Gerdeman. 2km to go. They're powering along at 66km/h.
Now Chris Froome is doing a stint on the front for Sky alongside Argos. He doesn't appear to have any Sky team-mates near him, mind.
Niki Terpstra moved to the front but realised he has no OPQS men with him, so drops back behind Argos Shimano alongside Steegmans.
No one has control of this at the moment, with different teams taking turns on the front. It's nervous and could well get dangerous.
Now Argos Shimano are there, with Koen de Kort shepherding John Degenkolb.
BMC come forward for their man Klaas Lodewych, but still Lotto Belisol drive the pace. This is very fast.
Now RadioShack are on the front with Lotto Belisol, working for Bennati and Meersman respectively. Argos Shimano have been quiet - Degenkolb will be one of the favourites after his win in stage two.
Ben Swift is actually quite far back - around 30 riders - and apart from his Sky team-mates. It's early days, mind.
Sky seem a little boxed in by Liquigas on the right-hand side. Saxo Bank are edging forward too.
Rabobank are setting the pace with Mollema tucked away in second place. OPQS are behind the Dutch team. The peloton is pretty well strung out now.
Now Rabobank edge forward, perhaps thinking for Matti Breschel. Although it could be simply to keep Mollema and Gesink out of trouble. On the back, Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) and David Moncoutie (Cofidis) almost collide, much to the French veteran's chagrin.
Sky, OPQS, Liquigas and Lotto are the teams on the front - all of them without a win so far in this race.
GreenEdge have formed a cluster around Allan Davis and Julian Dean while Liquigas have seven riders together moving up to the front.
Contador is surrounded by his Saxo Bank-Tinkoff team-mates but well on the back of the pack. Euskaltel are getting in on the act towards the front. Lampre are even there - a rare sighting if ever there was one.
Steegmans has a huge train at the moment - six men driving the pace, with Lotto tucked in just behind. It's Tony Martin, second yesterday, and Frantisek Rabon driving the pace.
French veteran David Moncoutie is on the back of the peloton - it's where the recluse likes to be, either in the break (preferrably solo) or on the back and otu of trouble.
The bell sounds for the final lap - it's more of a high-pitched foghorn, in fact - and the riders start the final lap. Omega Pharma-Quick Step are setting the pace.
Saxo Bank, conversely, are taking it easy on the back of the peloton at the moment - although Alberto Contador was, until recently, very close to the front. It's going to be a massive bunch sprint today - the finish is flat and straight.
We're approaching the end of the penultimate lap and the pace has visibly increased. Sky, Movistar and Cofidis are all forming factions on the front.
Now Omega Pharma-Quick Step come to the front. Perhaps Gert Steegman feels on form today? The Belgian has not won a major sprint finish since taking the final stage of the 2008 Tour de France on the Champs Elysees. Since then he's been at Katusha, RadioShack and now back at Quick Step - give with not much to show for it.
Garmin-Sharp are near the front too, protecting their man Andrew Talansky. Perhaps Koldo Fernandez has some aspirations today. Team Sky have three on the left and two on the right, so no consorted effort for Ben Swift as yet.
Liquigas and Ag2R bring their men forward as Chacon holds on for his final metres out in front. It was a brave, if futile, attempt by Chacon. Still, he got loads of TV time for his Andalucia team - and for the Pro Conti outfits, that's the important thing.
Javier Chacon has thrown in the towel: the 27-year-old Spaniard, who attacked inside the opening kilometre, now has just 30 seconds over the pack. His maximum lead was 11:55.
Spectators on the side of the road are spraying the peloton with water - there will be no complaints there, given the fierce heat. On the front now is Caja Rural - the Spanish Pro Continental team are perhaps trying to get a bit of coverage seeing that their Andalucia rivals have had that man Chacon stealing the TV limelight all day.
FDJ-BigMat have come to the front now, working for their man Bouhanni. Chacon is really tiring now and the Spaniard's lead is down to 1:30.
The peloton passes through the finish area to complete the sixth lap. Chacon has 3:17 with two laps of this circuit to go.
Mikel Astarloza of Euskaltel picks up a puncture and needs to change a wheel. There's still one lone Argos Shimano man on the front of the pack - Ji Cheng - ahead of the whole Katusha team. Javier Chacon has 2:25 over the peloton.
This is really a day off for 195 riders in the peloton. Not sure what organisers were thinking of when they devised this stage.
Team Sky's Xabier Zandio drops back to see his team car. Meanwhile, lone leader Javier Chacon eats a banana. His gap is down to three minutes.
The gap is down to 3:30 as a lone BMC rider nips in front of the peloton, perhaps to gain some ground ahead of a call of nature.
Elia Viviani took the final two bonus seconds for third place at the sprint. Katusha were clearly concerned about one Rodriguez's main rivals taking bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint - Froome is, after all, just one second behind on GC, while Contador is five down. A few days ago, Contador did take a two-second bonus at the final intermediate sprint, so Katusha's fears have foundation.
Attack by Gatis Smukulis of Katusha. He's clearly been sent ahead of the peloton under team orders to mop up the bonus seconds at the second intermediate sprint. Chacon passed through in pole position, and then the Latvian came across 100m ahead of the pack to take second, 3:47 down. Confirmation on third coming up.
Rabobank start to move up a little. They have two riders - Gesink and Mollema - in the top five, both of them just nine seconds down on red jersey Rodriguez. Chacon's lead is down to 5:06 as he nears the end of his fifth lap.
Katusha, Saxo Bank and Argos Shimano are all on the front as the lead comes down to 6:05. There's a slight wind in the air and the temperature is 33 degrees.
The peloton is passing through the feeding zone and the peloton is pretty strung out. Javier Chacon has 7:37 minutes and is being kept there by the pack. It must be a rather lonely day for the Spaniard, who just has himself and the sporadic fans on the side of the road for company. And the sun - it's another scorching day with no clouds in the sky.
Katusha have come to the front alongside Argos Shimano. Chacon's lead is coming down gradually.
Javier Chacon, the lone leader from Andalucia, is onto his fourth lap with a lead of 7:10. The average speed for the second hour is up to 38.1km/h.
Australian sprinter Allan Davis, second in stage two, said he was motivated to get a second win in as many days for GreenEdge - but he claimed he was not the favourite for victory in Logrono. "The finish is better suited to the other pure sprinters because it's very flat. I've always preferred a little rise at the end, but I'm ready to fight for victory."
The gap is coming down quite fast now. 7:40 at the latest check. Who do you think will win today's stage? Have your say in the comment section below...
Javier Chacon took the first intermediate sprint, 8:37 ahead of the pack. Team Sky's Ben Swift took second place ahead of Tom Dumoulin of Argos Shimano.
Back to the race, and lone escapee Javier Chacon holds a lead of 8:52 over the peloton. Other riders to consider at the finish are Daniele Bennati (RadioShack) and the French youngster Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ). Throw in Degenkolb, Swift, David, Viviani, Lodewych, plus the likes of Manuel Cardoso, Vincente Reynes, Gert Steegmans and Jose Rojas, and we have quite a field of possible winners.
Even Alejandro Valverde himself seemed keen to draw a line under things and move on. This morning at the start he said that "whatever happened yesterday has already been forgotten" and stressed that he had not hurt himself in the crash and that he was ready to continue the race. Indeed, the Spaniard only lost 55 seconds and still lies in the top ten, 36 seconds off the summit. For a bad day in the office, it really wasn't as bad as it could have been.
An un-named poster also gives this succinct assessment: "Difficult, but ultimately it was Movistar at the front of the peleton who let a 12 minute gap open up to the lead group. Had Sky waited after the crash Mate might be in the red jersey now with a reasonable time advantage." This is true - Luis Angel Mate of Cofidis was the virtual red jersey and Movistar seemed resigned to letting Valverde's lead go. Sky were simply picking up a job that Movistar had failed to carry out.
Duncan appears to be spot on here: "I don't think anybody is seriously blaming Sky, just Valverde and a few loyal Movistar supporters, but really only out of frustration I guess. Let's face it Sky pushed on looking to do some damage in the crosswinds, Valverde went down just after by which time the race was fully on. If you attack after the crash that's one thing but if the race is already on it's up to Movistar to get their man back up to the front, that's why you have a team."
We're getting some good comments on the yesterday's Valverde episode below from readers. Mark says: "A race is a race. This is pro cycling riding not a Sunday ride out." MatSpeed compares the situation to the Contador-Schleck chain-drop stand off: "Chaingate again! I think that they should just get on with it regardless, stop worrying about it. The sport needs drama, not riders trying to 'neutralise' stage like Cancellara did in 2010 - who want's to watch that?"
Argos-Shimano have brought the gap down to just under 10 minutes towards the end of the third circuit.
It's the Argos-Shimano team of John Degenkolb who are setting the pace on the front of the peloton. The young German won stage two in a bunch sprint and will fancy his chances today. He'll be up against the likes of Ben Swift (Sky), Elia Viviani (Liquigas), Klaas Lodewych (BMC) and Allan Davis (GreenEdge).
The average speed for the first hour of today's stage was very low: just 30.7 km/h - which may explain how Chacon has been able to carve out a lead of 11:55 over the pack.
Euskaltel's Juan Jose Oroz has dropped back to see the medical car. Meanwhile, his compatriot Javier Chacon (Andalucia) is now riding with a gap of 10:48 over the peloton.
Simon Clarke did not only take the stage win yesterday - he moved to the top of the green and polka dot jersey standings. He leads Alejandro Valverde by two points in the green jersey classification and Pim Ligthart by five points in the king of the mountains competition. Luckily for the Dutch Vacansoleil-DCM rider, Clarke has chosen to wear the green jersey today, granting Lithgart at least another day in the blue polka dots.
The Valverde incident was a tricky one to call. Sky did not cause the crash and it did certainly happen after they had already forced the first echelon on the flat, windy run into the final climb. It was also Katusha and BMC who helped drive the pace following the incident, so the blame cannot be firmly put on Sky's doorstep. While it's laughable to think Sky had no idea the red jersey was involved, they certainly were within their reason to continue riding. This is a race after all.
There was a lot of debate about the legitimacy of yesterday's late attack by Team Sky. Afterwards, Alejandro Valverde went to the Sky bus to get an explanation as to why the team threw down the hammer following his crash 30km from the finish. The explanation: we had already attacked when you went down, and we didn't even know until much later that you were involved. What are your thoughts on the whole episode? Have your say below...
Logrono is the capital of the Rioja wine region and the public are certainly in good spirits - there's a great atmosphere with spectators flocking to the circuit to watch the action. They will like what they see: Spain's Chacon now has nine minutes on the peloton.
Chacon is approaching the end of the first of eight loops around this Logrono circuit. The temperature is up to 30 degrees and he now has eight minutes over the peloton.
This is a determined ride from our lone escapee, who has managed to carve out a lead of 6:55 off the front of the peloton. Remember, yesterday's break held a lead of more than 12 minutes and still almost managed to get caught, so it's very early days for Chacon.
Andalucia's Javier Chacon is a 27-year-old Spaniard making his Grand Tour debut in his first year at the Spanish Pro Continental team. His two previous career stage wins came in the Vuelta a Venezuela (2010) and the Tour of Azerbaijan (2012).
Javier Chacon has quickly built up a lead of four minutes over the peloton.
It's slightly cooler today - the current temperature is 28 degrees Celsius.
ATTACK: Javier Chacon (Andalucia) breaks clear of the pack. The Spaniard was involved in the break in the opening road stage on Sunday and picked up the race's first king of the mountains jersey, which he wore for one day.
They're off! Today's stage is a circuit race of eight 21km laps around Logrono. It should conclude with a bunch sprint - with very little likely to happen until then...
The riders are in the neutral zone before the start of the stage. A reminder of the GC: Joaquim Rodriguez leads Chris Froome by one slender second, with Alberto Contador in third, five seconds off the pace. We then have two Dutchmen - Robert Gesink and Bauke Mollema - tied for fourth, nine seconds back. All in all, the top 17 riders are all within a minute of the summit.
No overnight withdrawals to report: 196 riders take to the start in Logrono. Yesterday, Frenchman David Boucher (FDJ) pulled out of the race while Italian Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) withdrew after breaking his collarbone in stage one. They are the only two casualties of the Vuelta so far.
Yesterday, Australia's Simon Clarke won stage four in the ski resort of Valdezcaray as Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez took the race lead on a day of drama in the Vuelta a Espana. GreenEdge's Clarke outsprinted Germany's Tony Martin on the summit of the second and final climb of the 160.5km stage to take a superb maiden win since turning professional. But Alejandro lost the red jersey after suffering a crash 30km from the finish - an incident seemingly exploited by his rival teams.
Welcome to live coverage of stage five of the Vuelta a Espana - a largely flat 168km ride consisting of eight 21km loops around Logrono.