Vernon wins Tour of Catalonia stage as Almeida grabs 1-sec overall lead
World Tour rookie Ethan Vernon took advantage of a late crash to swoop for the line and win stage five of the Tour of Catalonia on Friday as Portugal's Joao Almeida took the overall lead by just one second.
It was the first senior road-race win for the 21-year-old who last year won a stage on the Tour de L'Avenir for under-23s and signed a deal with Belgian team Quick Step.
Vernon edged Bahrain Victorious rider Phil Bauhaus to the line after a 5hr 21min 17sec ride at a pedestrian pace over 206km of undulating terrain.
UAE's Portuguese rider Almeida claimed the overall lead over Colombian Nairo Quintana of Arkea by a single second.
"I felt a bit tired today but I managed to get a bonus second on the intermediate sprint. It's only a second, on the final day we might get some big gaps," Almeida admitted.
"I know the final day circuit, it's hard and one second isn't going to make the difference."
With two challenging stages remaining, the top six places are separated by just 18 seconds.
Saturday's run from seaside town Salou into the mountains of the Costa Brava backcountry invite a breakaway.
The final stage on Sunday culminates in six laps of Barcelona city centre with six steep ascents of Montjuic where the 1992 Olympic Stadium sits.