The Tour Take | Vuelta a Espana Stage 9
1st – Ben King (Team Dimension Data)
2nd – Bauke Mollema (Trek - Segafredo) @ 0:48
3rd – Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing) @ 2:38
Red - Simon Yates (Mitchelton - SCOTT)
Green - Alejandro Valverde (Team Movistar)
Polka Dot - Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis)
1st - Simon Yates (Mitchelton - SCOTT)
2nd - Alejandro Valverde (Team Movistar) @ 0:01
3rd - Nairo Quintana (Team Movistar) @ 0:14
4th - Emanuel Buchmann (Bora - hansgrohe) @ 0:16
5th - Jon Izagirre (Bahrain Merida) @ 0:17
6th - Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale) @ 0:24
7th - Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) @ 0:27
8th - Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First - Drapac p/b Cannondale) @ 0:32
9th - Steven Kruiswijk (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) @ 0:43
10th - George Bennet (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) 0:48
Stage 9 saw the riders complete 200 kilometres on a route from Talavera de la Reina to La Covatilla. WIth over 400m of climbing, it was amongst the toughest stages of the race, and the beginning of the weeding out process.
In the opening half of the stage, the riders covered thee climbs, the Cat 1 Puerto de Pico, the Cat 3 Alto de Gredos, the Cat 2 Puerto de Pena Negra. A long valley section then followed, before the the Outside Category finishing climb, La Covatilla.
The Key Point
La Covatilla was officially categorised as 12.5km @ 6.5%, however the last 8 kilometres rose at an average of 9%. Gradients regularly reached 12% for a proper slog, however the last kilometre and a half eased off to average only 2%.
A large break of 11 riders went away, including KOM Leader Luis Angel Mate, Stage 4 winner Ben King, Dylan Teuns, Thomas De Gendt, Bauke Mollema and others. They worked well together, and with only FDJ working behind, the break's gap reached 10:00 with 40km to go
On the long uphill run to the bottom of the La Covatilla climb, the break split. Ben King forged on alone, and had a 1:00 lead over the rest of his companions by the bottom of the climb, and another 5:00 over the peloton.
King was looking strong out front on the final climb, but Bauke Mollema had broken away and was in pursuit. The gap was fairly steady at 1:30, however, as King hit the steep section, he began to struggle. With 5km to go, the gap was down to 0:30.
As Mollema looked like potentially challenging, his legs finally broke. The exposed section over the top of the climb was too much for him, and King rode in to claim his second stage win of the race.
Rudy Mollard ended his spell in red as he was dropped, while we saw some small splits in the GC group. Simon Yates did enough to take the Red Jersey going into the first rest day.
3 - Ben King. Second stage win of the race for King, and this one was even more impressive than the first.
2 – Bauke Mollema Three words sum up this man's life - "points for trying"
1 – Nairo Quintana. Much like Valverde, Quintana's form arrived in the weeks after Le Tour.
Leaders: Valverde (6), King (5), Mate (4), Bouhanni, Clarke, Dennis, Gallopin, Kwiatkowski, Mollema Vivianni, (3), De Plus, Herrada, Mollard, Sagan, S Yates, (2), Campenaerts, Cortina, Porte, Postlberger, Quintana, Rolland, Woods (1), De Gendt (-1)
The Movers and Shakers
With the bonus seconds mopped up by the break, and the toughest sections too far from the line, there wasn't the opportunity to make huge differences, but a few small moves stuck. Nairo Quintana showed off his form with a late attack, and took Lopez, Uran, Kelderman and Izagirre with him to gain a few seconds.
Simon Yates took red so obviously will be celebrating, but it was odd to see him not in the group with those other five; this finish should have suited him big time
See you back at the social club,