The Tour Take | Vuelta a Espana Stage 19

 Photo: Twila Federica Muzzi

Photo: Twila Federica Muzzi

The Steps

1st – Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ)

2nd – Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) @ 0:05

3rd – Steven Kruiswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) @ 0:13

 

The Jerseys

Red - Simon Yates (Mitchelton- SCOTT)

Green - Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

Polka Dot - Thomas De Gendt (Lotto - Soudal)

 

The GC

1st - Simon Yates (Mitchelton - SCOTT)

2nd - Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) @ 1:38

3rd - Steven Kruijswijk (Lotto- Jumbo) @ 1:58

4th - Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) @ 2:15

5th - Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) @ 2:29

6th - Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) @ 4:01

7th - Thibaut Pinot (Groupama - FDJ) @ 5:22

8th -  Rigoberto Uran (Team EF Education First - Drapac p/b Cannondale) @ 5:29

9th - Ion Izagirre (Bahrain - Merida) @ 6:30 

10th - Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale) @ 7:21

 

The Route

155km and only one categorised climb on stage 19 of La Vuelta, as the race enters Andorra. Starting in Lleida, the race headed slowly uphill for 135km, where they hit the Col de la Rabassa.

Though there’s just the one categorised climb, there’s still around 2600m of climbing, as the race finished at an altitude above 2000m.

The Key Point

The Col de la Rabassa is 17.5km and averaging 6.3%. At that length and with a constant gradient, its a far different climb to many of this Vuelta, lacking the savage gradients of many climbs in this year’s race.

The steepest part comes at the bottom, hitting “only” 13%, before making its way to the top around several switchbacks.

The Break

With Movistar keen to keep the possibly-crucial time bonuses in play, they set a furious pace and tried to keep the big breaks under wraps. Kwiatkowksi, Clarke, De Marchi, Herrada and Ghebreigzabhier all had unsuccessful cracks at forming a break, before we finally saw three men go up the road with 80km to go.

Bernard Thomas and Jonathan Castroviejo jumped away, and were given 2:00 over the chasing pack. Tom Van Asbroeck initially joined them, but sat up after 10km out front.

The gap came down quickly in the run-in to the final climb though. Sensing some crosswinds, Movistar pulled a cheeky one and split the peloton briefly. Though it all came back together, there was a fair amount of chaos as Yates and his Red Jersey found themselves in the second group for a moment.

While it didn’t achieve much in terms of splitting the bunch for good, it did bring back the break as they were caught right as the climb started

The Finish

With 13km to go, the action kicked off as Nairo Quintana attacked the LottoNL-Jumbo led peloton. Kruiswijk latched on, and soon Thibaut Pinot bridged over.

With three top-10 riders up the road, Simon Yates took the chase up himself and bridged over to the leading three with 10km to go.

While Quintana dropped back to help Valverde (and possibly to get a rest), Yates was driving the pace on the flatter section of the climb, and building the gap over the group behind.

With 3km to go, Yates had a minute over the Valverde group and was only pulling further away. As Valverde’s group split under attacked from Lopez and MaS, the Green Bullet cracked completely.

Up front, Thibaut Pinot sprinted away from Yates to take the stage win, but Yates had taken significant time on what looks to be a race-winning day.

The Votes

3 - Simon Yates. He might just have won the race today, staying cool when Quintana went and then focusing on taking time

2 – Thibaut Pinot. Pinot takes a second stage win to mark this race as a big success for him.

1 – Steven Kruiswijk. You could tell Kruiswijk wasn’t flying today, but he flogged himself to stay with the leaders, and is back on the podium.

Leaders: S Yates (13), Valverde (9), Pinot, Sagan (6), Dennis, King (5), Herrada, Mate, Kwiatkowski, Woods, Viviani (4), Bouhanni, Clarke, De Marchi, Gallopin, Geniez, Mollema (3) Quintana, Wallays (3) Bystrom, Kruijswijk (2) De Plus, Mollard, Postlberger, Rodriguez, Rhestrepo, Campenaerts, Cortina, Lopez, Majka, Porte, Rolland, Van Baarle (1),

The Movers and Shakers

Tomorrow’s another hard day, but Simon Yates should win the race now. The tactic to come here and be conservative until the final week has paid dividends, and he looks as fresh as ever right now. It was a mature ride from the brit, as he knew exactly when to bridge to Quintana, and then to take advantage of the gap and drive the pace.

Valverde wasn’t a rider you expected to blow up, but with 2km to go on today’s stage he did just that. He’s ridden out of his skin in the last three weeks, and this is probably his last chance to ride GC well at a grand tour, so hopefully he can stay on the podium.

The podium is still wide open though; it’s a brutal stage planned tomorrow, and with only 0:51 between Valverde in 2nd and Lopez in 5th, anything could happen tomorrow.

The Next Stage

Six climbs and over 3000m of climbing in only 97 kilometres make up La Vuelta’s Andorran Stage 20, with a summit finish. They’ll twice take the Col de Comella, ride up the Col de Belaxis once from each side, ascend the Col de Ordino, and finish on the Col de la Gallina. The Col de la Gallina is 7.7km at 7.8%, and it’s a brutal finish to a brutal day in a brutal Vuelta.

 

The Pick

With Yates looking comfortable (but by no means safe), and four men fighting for the other podium spots, Stage 20 will be chaotic. Miguel Angel Lopez is our favourite to take the stage, of the group from 2nd to 5th, he looks like he has the most left in the tank and will be motivated to take something from this Vuelta, even if it’s just a stage.

See you back at the social club,

Josh

 

Joshua DugganComment