Slovenian cyclist Luka Mezgec earned his third stage win of this Volta a Catalunya, edging the pack in the final sprint on Friday.
Joaquim Rodriguez maintained the overall lead, with the 218km ride from Llanars Vall de Camprodon to Valls producing no changes at the top of the general classification.
Mezgec, riding for Giant-Shimano, finished the stage in 5 hours, 16 minutes at the front of a large pack. He also won the two opening stages of the seven-day race with sprint finishes.
Rodriguez kept his four-second lead over Alberto Contador. Tejay van Garderen remained seven seconds behind. Nairo Quintana trailed by 10 seconds, while Tour de France winner Christopher Froome was 17 seconds off the pacesetter.
“I hope I can reach the final day with the same advantage,” said Rodriguez, who won the Volta in 2010. “We will have to be very attentive and stay focused.”
Contador downplayed his chances of overtaking Rodriguez.
“The remaining course leaves very little margin,” Contador said. “For me, the important thing is to recover physically from these tiring days.”
Yesterday’s sixth stage was to take riders over 172km, from El Vendrell to Vilanova i la Geltru.
The race finishes in Barcelona today.
AP, HARELBEKE, Belgium
Peter Sagan of Slovakia won his first big classic of the season, dominating a four-way sprint to win the E3 Harelbeke on Friday.
In a chaotic race marred by several crashes, Cannondale’s Sagan broke away 25km from the finish and only Omega Pharma Quick-Step teammates Niki Terpstra and Stijn Vandenbergh and Sky’s Geraint Thomas followed him.
All of Sagan’s challengers tried to break away in the knowledge that Sagan was by far the fastest in the sprint, but the Slovak clawed back each time and easily won the sprint from Terpstra and Thomas.
Today, Sagan will be the hot favorite to win the World Tour classic Ghent-Wevelgem, which he won last year.
Harelbeke pre-race favorite Fabian Cancellara was held back in a mass crash 30km from the finish.