• Gianni Meersman (Ettix-Quickstep) sprinting to victory in sage 5 of the 2016 Vuelta a Espana (Getty)Source: Getty
Gianni Meersman (Ettix-Quickstep) emerged from finale crash chaos to out gun Fabio Felline (Trek Segafredo) and Kevin Reza (FDJ) to the line in stage 5 of the Vuelta a Espana. Darwin Atapuma (BMC) remains in red.
By
Cycling Central

25 Aug 2016 - 9:35 AM  UPDATED 25 Aug 2016 - 1:35 PM

The Classics man took advantage of the false flat finish claiming his second sprint victory at this year's Vuelta. 

Meersman was expertly guided by team mates through the bunch and after two crashes within the final 2kms. The first took out GC hopeful Steven Kruijswijk (Lotto JumboNL) the second crash holding up three quarters of the peloton. 

 

“It was already a dream come true to claim my maiden Grand Tour victory on Sunday, but to double up today leaves me without any more words. I felt really good, was confident in my legs and focused on what I had to do, and now I’m very happy to collect another win for the team and myself," Meersman said. 

“You could see Zdenek’s lead-out was that of a man who knows his sprinter can win and it really made the difference in the final kilometre," he said. 

This followed a bold attack by Australia's Simon Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac) and Phillipe Gilbert (BMC) at 2.5kms to go on the gentle finishing slope. 

The first crash was caused by a pole sticking out of the road not clearly marked or guarded by race organisers. 

This incident and subsequent organisers' statement prompted further calls from the professional riders' association CPA, for immediate action. 

Professional riders' association places responsibility for safety on UCI

The crash ended Kruijswijk's Vuelta and although he was down three minutes and ten seconds and sat 31st overall, Lotto JumboNL felt confident the Dutchman would still hit his best.  

“The first summit finish already was a disappointment. It went a little bit better yesterday and we were positive about the possibility that Kruijswijk would have been able to reach his top level during this Vuelta," Lotto JumboNL DS Addy Engels said. 

“I crashed heavily into that pole. It’s terrible that I have to leave this race because of an object that shouldn’t have been there. I’m going home immediately tomorrow," Kruijswijk said. 

"This was, after the Giro d’Italia, my second big target and I’m really fed up about the way I’m leaving this Vuelta.”

As it happened

Despite the crashes, the controversy and the sprint finale, this Vuelta transitional stage was largely uneventful. 

Direct Enegerie's Julien Morice escaped at the start taking Tiago Machado (Katusha) with him. The pair's six minute lead after 70 kilometres soon dwindled as the sprinters' teams began controlling the time gap for the finale. Morice then struggled, leaving Machado at the feed zone with 75 kilometres to race.

Although the rain came out to play, it only affected the state of riders' socks. 

The category three climb at 120kms also failed to influence proceedings, the bunch staying together despite Thomas de Gendt's (Lotto Soudal) attack to collect the two remaining KOM points. He now sits just two points behind Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) in that classification. 

Machado was caught with 14kms to go then the sprint teams further organised themselves.