Stage 5 of the Tour de Berlin from Worbis to Bad Salzungen would be one of the longest taking riders over a 171 km journey. The stage would also be a tester for the climbers as riders would have to overcome two category 2 climbs as well as two category 1 climbs.
The field stayed pretty much together until the riders made their way towards the final category 1 climb, which was 8 km long and came just 20 km from the finish. This climb proved to be the decider of the day as it split the field in half
In amongst the front-runners was Team Exels Dennis van Niekerk who refused to get dropped and finished a credible 35th to get bunch time. Another surprise was Exels sprinter Nolan Hoffmann who, despite the long and daunting climbs, was managing to cope with even the category 1 climbs and finished safely in the peloton.
Kai Reus of Team Rabobank stayed in yellow with the company of his team-mates in second and third on GC.
The next stage from Bad Salzungen to Neuhaus over a distance of 152km would be one the most difficult that Exel would have to contend with as the stage encompassed four category 1 climbs and an 8km climb to the finish.
The days race was characterised by an early break from Jos Harms from Amuzza DAVO
The various cat 1 climbs ensured that the peloton was severely split. A select group attacked as the already depleted peloton were making their way up the final climb. In what can only be described as superb riding, Dennis van Niekerk grit his teeth and went with the move. Van Niekerk stayed with the group and achieved a brilliant 13th place. This move saw him leap from 50 to 29 on the general classification.
Today we were extremely pleased with the result from Dennis. He seems to have found his niche as a climber and tour rider. He went with the big boys today and showed that he can climb and stick it out with some of the top riders, said Exels manager Conrad Lesch
I just felt good today and decided that I wanted to go with the move. Our Tour did not start off too good but it has become better. Im happy with my ride today but it is also good for the Team and for our sponsors, said van Niekerk
The stage honours went to Chris Heinze from Cottbus followed by two Rabobank riders. Even though the field was split wide open and riders were arriving alone or in small groups, Reus and Aussie Will Walker of Rabobank are in 1 and 2 respectively, with Sestelli of Palazzago Italy in 3rd overall.