Ozalj, September 30, 2023 – Venezuelan Orluis Alberto Aular (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) has won the fifth stage of CRO Race, which ran a 189-kilometre course from Crikvenica to Ozalj. Aular’s win also put him at the top of the general classification just a day before the end of the race.
The penultimate fifth stage began with a 20-kilometre climb to its highest point—Breze pass at 1,014 metres above sea level. Five riders broke away from the peloton—Croat Fran Miholjević (Bahrain Victorious), German Jonas Rapp (Hrinkow Advarics), Czech Michal Schuran (ATT Investments), Pole Artur Sowinski (Voster), and Australian Andrew Sampson (Ljubljana Gusto Santic); Rapp took the first KOM ahead of Miholjević and Schuran. Having taken the maximum of 12 points on the day, Rapp secured the lead in mountains classification and the green king of the mountains jersey.
Schuran and Sampson were dropped from the breakaway shortly thereafter, and the remaining trio of Miholjević, Rapp, and Sowinski made it to Ogulin with a 3 minute and 20 second gap on the peloton. Within just 40 kilometres, there followed three intermediate sprints in Josipdol, Generalski Stol, and Duga Resa. Miholjević crossed the line first at all three, Sowinski second, and Rapp third.
At thirty kilometres from the finish line, Miholjević attacked off the breakaway and went solo at the head of the race for a full 15 kilometres. He was then caught back up by the peloton, after which preparations began for the final sprint.
At the finish line, Aular timed his sprint perfectly, taking a decisive win nearly a full bike length ahead of Norwegian Alexander Kristoff (Uno-X) who took second; Englishman Ethan Hayter (INEOS Grenadiers) was third across the line.
“I felt fantastic throughout the whole race, and I tried especially hard to be in a good position during the final lap. It’s still fresh in my mind, but I have to say I’m extremely satisfied with the result. I would like to thank my team, which did a great job and made it possible for me to win this stage. We tried to force a high pace in the peloton to eliminate other sprinters, and we succeeded“, said Aular.
This stage win puts Aular at the top of the general classification, nine seconds ahead of Hayter in second and Sheffield in third. Aside from taking the lead in the GC, Aular has also taken first place in the points classification and the accompanying blue jersey. Aular is the national champion of Venezuela, for which reason he wore his national jersey during today’s race.
The new leader in the king of the mountains classification is German Jonas Rapp (Hrinkow Advarics), while Sheffield remains in the white jersey for best young rider.
American Magnus Sheffield (INEOS Grenadiers), who was leading the GC at the stage start, misjudged his line on the left-hand turn 500 metres before the finish line and crashed, missing out on a good ranking on the stage and losing the red jersey.
At the start of stage five, the riders were greeted by mayor of Crikvenica Damir Rukavina, Crikvenica Tourist Board director Marijana Biondić, and deputy mayor of Crikvenica Ivona Matošić Gašparović.
The cyclists were welcomed at the finish line by Karlovac County head Martina Furdek-Hajdin, mayor of Ozalj Lidija Bošnjak, Karlovac County Tourist Board director Željko Fanjak, and Kupa Region Tourist Board director Toni Šarić.
Stage six of the race is scheduled to start on 1 October in Samobor at 11:25 AM and will finish in Zagreb in front of the National and University Library; riders are expected to arrive there between 2:46 and 3:04 PM.
If you use photos from the folder entitled Mario Stiehl photography, please credit them to Mario Stiehl; photographs taken from the folder entitled Luis Angel Gomez should be credited to Luis Gomez/Sprint Cycling Agency.More information about the race, teams, cyclists, etc. will be available on the official sites on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.