The Tour Take | Vuelta a Espana Stage 15

 Photo: Twila Federica Muzzi

Photo: Twila Federica Muzzi

The Steps

1st – Thibaut Pinot (Groupama - FDJ) 

2nd – Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) @ 0:28

3rd – Simon Yates (Mitchelton - SCOTT) @ 0:30

 

The Jerseys

Red - Simon Yates (Mitchelton- SCOTT)

Green - Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

Polka Dot - Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis)

 

The GC

1st - Simon Yates (Mitchelton - SCOTT)

2nd - Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) @ 0:26

3rd - Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) @ 0:33

4th - M. A Lopez (Astana Pro Team ) @ 0:43

5th - Steven Kruijswijk (Lotto- Jumbo) @ 1:29

6th - Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) @ 1:55

7th - Thibaut Pinot (Groupama - FDJ) @ 2:10

8th - Rigoberto Uran (Team EF Education First - Drapac p/b Cannondale) @ 2:27

9th - Ion Izagirre (Bahrain - Merida) @ 3:03 

10th - Emanuel Buchmann (Bora - hansgrohe) @ 3:15

 

The Route

Stage 15 holds the third of three summit finishes, with the race’s climax atop the Lagos de Covadonga. Along the 178km route that starts in Ribera de Arriba, they’ll cover three categorized climbs, including twice up the Cat 1 Mirador del Fito. They’ll then go up the iconic finishing climb, which is just the icing on top of a day with around 4000m of climbing

 

The Key Point

Covondonga has been a regular in the last few years, with the 12.2km, 7.5% climb featuring several steep ramps. The first half of the climb averages 10%, before the second part jumps up in steps. A small descent in the final 2km leads into one more finishing ramp, where this one will be hotly contested once again.

 

The Break

Another class break formed, with King, Rolland, Bennett, Geoghegan Hart, Schultz, Mollema and others making up a group of 12. It wasn’t until they peloton has raced 40km that they were let off the leash, but they extended their lead to around 5:00 after doing so.

With Astana working behind, the gap slowly came down to around 2:30 by the bottom of Lagos de Covadonga, when Ivan Garcia Cortina led the race up the climb. He was back in the fold within 5km though, as the Kazakh team were on a mission for their leader Lopez

 

The Finish

With 7.5km remaining it was go time, as Lopez was launched from the Astana train. He opened up a gap immediately, but was soon chased down by Quintana. With 6km to go, Thibaut Pinot attacked and the others were late to respond, with the Frenchman 2:46 down on GC.

Pinot found 30 seconds gap, and even thought Lopez, Yates and Mas all spent time attacking, nobody could catch the Groupama-FDJ man, who continued his team’s spectacular Vuelta.

Lopez finished 0:28 seconds back from Pinot; Yates was only a couple of seconds back from him, while the others were close behind Yates.

 

The Votes

3 - Thibaut Pinot. A saavy move from the Frenchman, who's kickstarted his GC campaign

2 – Simon Yates. As ever, aggressive to the end, and controlled the race perfectly.

1 – Miguel Angel Lopez. Superman doesn't ride aggressively too often, but did so today as he looked to take time. 

Leaders: S Yates (7), Valverde (6), King (5), Herrada, Mate, Viviani,  Kwiatkowski (4), Bouhanni, Clarke, De Marchi, Dennis, Gallopin, Geniez, Mollema, Pinot (3) Quintana, Sagan (3) Kruijswijk (2) De Plus, Mollard, Postlberger, Rodriguez, Rhestrepo, Campenaerts, Cortina, Lopez, Majka, Porte, Rolland, Van Baarle, Woods (1), De Gendt (-1)

The Movers and Shakers

We didn't see huge time gaps between the top riders, but we did get some dramatic racing - PInot was excellent and had he not lost so much time already, he'd be figuring heavily in podium calculations. Similarly, Yates and Lopez were both fantastic, if a little wasteful with their energy, as they didn't gain much time.

Quintana dug deep yesterday and paid for his efforts today - he was reliant on Valverde to do a lot of work for him. Valverde's worn green for a large chunk of this Vuelta - I'm convinced at this point they just give it to him to show how evergreen his form is, and it's got nothing to do with the Points Competition.

A few guys lost time though; Uran struggled but lost only 1:25 to Pinot, and it could have been far worse. The unlikely Top 10 chances of Jon Izagirre and Tony Gallopin both took hits, as they lost 1:49 and 2:50 respectively.

 

The Next Stage

After the rest day, the riders will be jumping on their TT bikes for a 32km TT from Santillana Del Mar to Torrelavega. The route’s a little bit rolling, with some “extended false flats” coming through the middle of the course.

 

The Pick

There are two races going on in this one; for the stage, and for the upper hand on GC. For the stage, there’s not a whole lot of genuine TT quality at the race, Rohan Dennis should be a pretty good bet, but Victor Campenaerts will be strong. In the GC battle, there aren’t a lot of good TT riders near the top of the overall standings, so whoever can merely hold their own will jump up the standings. Watch out Valverde to take red though; he’s a previous Spanish TT champion, and a time trial god compared to the likes of Quintana and Lopez.

See you back at the social club,

Josh

 

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