All the hopes of the UAE Team Emirates to wipe away the bad feelings which had been caused by the crash and the subsequent withdrawal of Atapuma, which had occurred at -30 km to the end of then 4th stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, were represented in the attack by Diego Ulissi at 2600 meters to the arrival.
The Donostia-Bilbao, 174,1 km with two categorized climbs, the Sollubeko (2nd cat., 5,2 km at 8,15%, summit 110,2 km in the race) and, after a sector of flat road, the Biberoko (2ª cat., 5,6 km al 8,19%) at -14 km to the finish line, turned out to be an ill-fated moment for the season of Darwin Atapuma, who crashed in the approach of the city of Bilbao, at -30 km: the Colombian climber suffered facial contusions and a bruised elbow.
Medical checks in Bilbao hospital, at the presence of the team’s physician Dr De Grandi, revealed a fractured left wrist (surgery will be necessary) and a concussion which will require that the riders will spend the night in the hospital.
The last climb of the stage selected the bunch and in the downhill to the final kilometers the members of the head group became 38, amongst them also UAE Team Emirates’ cyclists Meintjes and Ulissi.
The Italian athlete attacked at -2600 meters, however his action gave him some meters on the other riders, who closed the gap few hundreds meters later.
Roglic counter-attacked and, exploiting his skills as time trialist, he succeeded in obtaining a solo victory, with 3″ on the chasing group in which Ulissi crossed the finish line as 7th.
Meintjes was 27th.
In the general classification, Ulissi is 19th at 3″ to De la Cruz, same gap for Meintjes (28th).
“On the last ascent, which was covered at a high speed, I decided to manage my energies, in order to have some more to spend in the final kilometers – Ulissi (photo Bettini) explained – I reached the top of the climb and I recovered the head group in the downhill, then I tried to attack, hoping I could exploit the situation where there was no strong leadership of the group by one single team.
Unfortunately, the other riders reacted to my attack, while on the contrary Roglic, who counter-attacked after that my action had been neutralized, succeeded on reaching the arrival.
Tomorrow, the summit arrival will be a key moment for what concerns the general classification: Meintjes and me will try to cooperate for achieving the best possible result, it’s a pity there won’t be Atapuma with us, Darwin get well soon“.
1- Roglic 4h23’46”
2- Matthews 3″
3- Visconti s.t.
4- Kwiatkowski s.t.
5- Yates S. s.t.
8- Ulissi s.t.
27- Meintjes s.t., 74- Mohoric 4’20”, 78- Swift s.t., 113- Mori 9’12”, 127- Durasek 12’29”, 145 Conti 13’42”
1- De la Cruz 16h38’42”
2- Roglic s.t.
3- Kwiatkowski s.t.
4- Valverde s.t.
5- Konrad s.t.
19- Ulissi s.t.
28- Meintjes s.t.