Greipel wins stage 5 in the Vuelta, earns nickname.

VIctory is sweet: I get a nickname.

VIctory is sweet: I get a nickname.

Give the man a nickname– he’s earned it.

Andre Greipel (Columbia-HTC) dominated stage five’s sprint finish in Vinaros, beating Tom Boonen (Quickstep) by a bike and a half, with Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) trailing in third. The rider from Rostock, Germany is clearly the fastest man in a Manx-free Vuelta. Ladies and Gentleman, meet the new man in the Oro jersey, the Rostock Rocket.

The Vuelta finally made it to Spain, taking in the 174 kilometers from Tarragona to the touristy beach town of Vinaros. There were dry roads, blue sky, warm temperatures and the absence of canal barges and umbrellas. An early breakaway of riders-considered-harmless gained a maximum of 4:30 minutes before Quickstep reeled it back.

Philippe Gilbert (Silence Lotto) made a serious bid for glory, launching an attack on the Alto de la Ermita, just 10 kilometers from the finish.  The move had solo winner written all over it until the sprinter teams shut it down. Gilbert looked so disappointed he slammed on his brakes. Not a day for the Belgians Boonen and Gilbert, 0 for 2, perhaps annoyed to have left the rainy home roads for sunny Spain.

Liquigas took charge of the final drag race but this was a grand tour sprint finish– and Columbia-HTC owns those, whether it’s Mark Cavendish or Andre Greipel. For Garmin’s Tyler Farrar, it was another chance blown. He drove to the line head down, looking backward and going backward. The talented American rider took 4th place and little consolation.

Andre Greipel now has a nickname and a nice golden jersey. He’ll be wearing his best lycra for the party in Vinaros tonight. He missed the “Fiesta of the Prawn” two weeks ago. But TS is sure they can whip of some Fdeua or Suquet de Peix and a glass of bubbly cava. The Manxman is in Missouri but the Rostock Rocket has the Vuelta locked down.

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