But a bitter-sweet day for Orica: overnight leader Esteban Chaves was caught out in a split and lost the leader's red jersey to Dutchman Tom Dumoulin of Giant-Alpecin.
Rota - Alcalá de Guadaira
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Degenkolb made the first move with 150m to go, but 21-year-old Ewan zipped past in the last 20m while Sagan never had enough juice in the tank. Drucker was fourth for BMC and Rojas fifth for Movistar.
The pint-sized Australian gets his first Grand Tour stage win after holding off Degenkolb and Sagan on that slightly uphill finish.
Victory for Caleb Ewan!
Bennati leads out Sagan before peeling away. Degenkolb, Drucker, Ewan and Sagan are all there…
Under the banner and these twists and turns are taking their toll.
It’s very feisty and frantic as they skirt yet another roundabout. Cofidis beginning to edge forward, but it’s still Orica.
Now it’s Orica-GreenEdge who have sent three men on the front for Caleb Ewan ahead of the Giant train of Degenkolb.
It’s bunched up again on the front, although there are numerous splits further back, so some riders will be caught out today. Giant and Tinkoff are right there, but there’s no sign of Nacer Bouhanni’s Cofidis.
MTN-Qhubeka are on the front now with Sky’s Froome sitting in fourth place on his own, without any team-mates. Froome is looking to keep out of trouble.
There’s a pinch point as the riders leave the dual carriageway, pass a petrol station and skirt a roundabout before heading back over the road they were on. The road surface is coarse and crude, too, and it’s really strung out.
Iljo Keisse sits up and lets the peloton swallow him up. Katusha have edged ahead alongside Tinkoff-Saxo, while Astana and LottoNL-Jumbo have come to the fore as well.
Grmay and Duchesne have been caught and Keisse has just 25 seconds now as the peloton zips under the 10-to-go banner.
Just one minute now for Keisse now that the peloton has roared into action. He’s a talent, but it won’t be enough.
Now Tinkoff-Saxo come to the fore for their man Peter Sagan, while Iljo Keisse continues his solo ride ahead of Grmay and Duchesne. The Belgian has 1:25 over the pack.
Astana, Sky, Movistar and Giant-Alpecin are all near the front now in the peloton. Today’s approach is quite technical, with numerous roundabouts, and so the GC teams will not want their riders to get caught out.
Grmay finally comes to the front, but it’s Duchesne who leads out the sprint. He’s pegged back by Grmay before Keisse steps on the ignition and roars clear. The Belgian will take the 3 bonus seconds, 135 euros and the green jersey points – and he’ll probably now just time trial clear of the others.
Grmay sits on Keisse’s back wheel as the pair ride back to Duchesne, who took advantage of their spat to ride clear. And now it’s Duchesne’s turn to lay into Grmay as the trio comes back together. They have 1:45 over the pack and it will be very interesting to see if Grmay, the persona non grata of this break, goes for the imminent intermediate sprint…
There’s some handbags in the break as Duchesne rides clear and then Keisse has some words with Grmay. It seems like the Belgian is unhappy about the Ethiopian’s workload – a bit rich, given Grmay instuigated the move and rode the first 20km of the stage alone before being joined by the two others. But perhaps Keisse feels he has not being pulling his weight since one became three.
There’s the intermediate sprint at Diego Martinez Barrio coming up before the finish – although don’t expect it to be contested by the three escapees, who are more in survival mode than in trophy hunting zone. Unless, of course, that trophy is the stage win. They have 2:10 over the pack, so it’s not a lost cause, but it’s not looking too promising either.
The polka dot jersey of Omar Fraile has, oddly, come to the front of the pack for Caja Rural to help lead the chase. The gap is down to 2:20 for the three escapees.
Sean Kelly on today’s expected sprint finish: “For me, Bouhanni could be the problem for Sagan – if he’s in shape then he could be a big threat. But if not, then I see it as a battle between Sagan and Degenkolb.” It’s worth adding that it’s far from a routine dart to the line – with another uphill rise that could well spell the end for the pure sprinters.
The gap is down to 3:30 for Grmay, Duchesne and Keisse. They’re combining well together but they’re no doubt rather doomed. That said, we all thought that in the final stage of the Giro – but Keisse – along with Luke Durbridge – managed to pull it out of the bag and stay out to take the win after sweeping past the Australian.
Froome is safely back with the peloton after that mechanical issue.
Mechanical for Tour winner Chris Froome, who is being paced back by three Sky team-mates – Kiryienka, Nieve and Puccio. They’re about 30 seconds down on the pack, but there won’t be any need to hitch a lift with the team car.
Slovenian Luka Mezgec is confident he can help lead his team-mate to victory today. “I think it could be a good day for us – today is the perfect finish for Degenkolb,” he told Eurosport this morning.
Cofidis have put one man on the front of the break, tucked in just behind tempo-setter Tom Stamsnijder of Giant-Alpecin. The French team of Nacer Bouhanni were criticised for not helping out in the chase for the past two days, so this is perhaps their attempt at a notional helping hand.
It’s a very old-school opening week Vuelta stage today – quite long, very flat, not much to look at, very hot, a token break, and the expected bunch finish. The gap is currently 4:45 for the three escapees.
It’s the Giant-Alpecin team of John Degenkolb who are leading the chase in the peloton, keen to set up the German for a tenth career win on the Vuelta.
In other news, it's just been announced that former Giro d'Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal will leave Cannondale-Garmin and join Trek Factory Racing at the end of the season.
The three leaders pass through the feedzone with a gap of 5:15 over the peloton.
The final man in the break is Canadian youngster Antoine Duchesne of Team Europcar, who is making his Grand Tour debut. The 23-year-old rode both Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders these past two years, but is still seeking his maiden pro win. With the future of Team Europcar up in the air, we have seen their riders in the break every day so far - which is no surprise. Manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau is doing his best to find a new sponsor before the end of the month.
The best-placed rider in this break is Iljo Keisse of Etixx-QuickStep, currently 20:23 down on Chaves on GC. The 32-year-old from Belgian is a track specialist who excels in six-day races - he most notably won the Six Days of Ghent five times. Having ridden the Giro d'Italia for the past three years - taking a memorable win in the final stage of this year's race - Keisse makes his debut in the Vuelta.
The gap is down to 5:45 for the three escapees. Let's take a closer look at the riders in this break, starting with the man who instigated the whole thing - Tsgabu Grmay. The Ethiopian turned 25 yesterday and is enjoying his first season at Lampre-Merida after three years at MTN-Qhubeka. This is his second Grand Tour of his career and his season, having raced the Giro back in May. Grmay is the current African time trial champion and his only other career win came in stage 5 of the Tour de Taiwan back in 2013. He is the first rider from Ethiopia to take part in the Vuelta.
For the second successive day there are no categorised climbs on the Vuelta, which means Omar Fraile can breathe easy in the blue polka dot jersey. The Spaniard from Caja Rural has 13 points in the KOM comptetition with Walter Pedraza (Columbia) and Natnael Berhane (MTN-Qhubeka) tied on 7 points.
After his second place finish yesterday behind Alejandro Valverde, Peter Sagan moved into the outright lead of the green jersey competition. The Slovakian from Tinkoff-Saxo has 45 points to Valverde's 35, with Chaves on 31 points in third. Click below for a full report from yesterday's exciting stage four...
A reminder that Colombia's Esteban Chaves still leads the race after his win in the opening road stage on Sunday. The Orica-GreenEdge rider has a five-second advantage over Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) and 15 seconds over third-place Nico Roche (Team Sky).
We join the race live with 110km remaining - and that three-man break now has six minutes over the peloton.
After 19km of riding solo, Grmay was joined by Iljo Keisse (Etixx-QuickStep) and Antoine Duchesne (Europcar).
ATTACK: Tsgabu Grmay (Lampre-Merida) broke clear shortly after the start. It was the Ethiopian's birthday yesterday so this is a belated present to himself - a day of suffering out in front of the pack...
The remaining 191 riders took to the start today in Rota under bright sunshine in a cloudless blue sky: business as usual...
Hello and welcome to live coverage of stage five of the Vuelta a Espana - a flat 167km ride from Rota to Alcala de Guadaira, and another chance for the sprinters to get a slice of the action.