Adelaide: Spaniard Alejandro Valverde claimed an emotional wafer-thin fifth stage victory over local favourite Simon Gerrans on Saturday to share the Tour Down Under lead with the Australian.

At the end of the 151.5 kilometre ride from McLaren Vale to Old Willunga Hill, a couple of centimeters separated Valverde of Movistar from GreenEdge rider Gerrans in the decisive Willunga stage south of Adelaide.

Both the riders were tied for the overall lead but Gerrans had the Ochre leader's jersey by virtue of his lower aggregate placings for the first five stages.

In the second climb up Willunga Hill, Gerrans appeared to have the better line but Valverde, competing in his first race after a two-year doping ban, rallied to edge him out for a dramatic win.

The race will now boil down to Sunday's 90-km final stage street dash on the outskirts of Adelaide.