Italy's Francesco Gavazzi of Lampre won the fifth stage of the Tour of the Basque Country after veteran Spanish sprint ace Oscar Freire was disqualified. Spain's Joaquin Rodriguez held on to the race lead after finishing 11th with the same time as the stage winner.
Freire, of the Rabobank team, was first across the line in a mass sprint finish at the end of the 177-kilometer ride from Eibar to Zalla in northern Spain, ahead of Gavazzi and Belgian Kristof Vandewalle of Quick Step. But the 35-year-old Spaniard, a three-time World Road Race champion, was disqualified for receiving an illegal push from teammate Luis Leon Sanchez, following an appeal by Lampre. The judges, who had initially d Freire the winner, named Gavazzi the winner after viewing video evidence.
The stage, which featured several mountain passes, including one category one-rated climb, was marked by a number of breakaways. Rodriguez, of Team Katusha, must now try and hold on to his lead in the Saturday's final stage, a 24-km time-trial in Zalla.