photo credits @ La Vuelta
Lotto Soudal’s Thomas de Gendt earned his team its forth stage victory in this year’s Vuelta a España, after winning today’s sprint finish ahead of Jarlinson Pantano (Trek-Segafredo) and Ivan Garcia (Team Bahrain Merida), after the Belgian breakaway specialist out-classed a strong escape group during the final run-in to the finish.
Meanwhile, race leader Chris Froome finished safely amongst the GC favorites, as his Team Sky spent most of the day controlling the peloton behind today’s large breakaway group.
Back in the main peloton, Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) launched another one of his signature attacks along the final climb with help of teammate Koen de Kort, but their efforts were quickly neutralized by the field.
A strong 20-rider breakaway group featuring Nicolas Roche (BMC), Davide Villella (Cannondale-Drapac), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), David Arroyo (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Rui Costa, Matej Mohoric (UAE Team Emirates), Laurens De Vreese (Astana), Jarlinson Pantano, Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), Bob Jungels, Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors), Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Julien Duval (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Floris De Tier, Juan José Lobato (LottoNL-Jumbo), Ivan Garcia (Bahrain-Merida), Daniel Navarro, Kenneth Vanbilsen (Cofidis) and Juan Felipe Osorio (Manzana-Postobon) was later joined by Romain Bardet, Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Carlos Verona (Orica-Scott), Antonio Pedrero, José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), Simon Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac), Antwan Tolhoek and Koen Bouwman (LottoNL-Jumbo), managed to distance the peloton early on in today’s stage.
King of the Mountains Villella was particularly active in the break, as he grabbed maximum mountain points over the top of the day’s opening first category climb of Alto de la Colladona. The 10 points on offer saw him strength his KOM lead over Froome.
Villella also crested the following third category Alto de Sto. Emiliano, but lost out on the Alto de la Falla de Los Lobos as De Gendt had attacked from the break, distancing Villella. By this stage the break’s gap over the bunch was around 15 minutes.
A lull in the climbing after the Alto de la Falla de Los Lobos meant that the fragmented groups from the original break joined back together with 50km to go.
Shortly after, Garcia launched an attack from the break, going solo into the final 34km. By 20km to go, Garcia had managed to forge a minute’s gap over his former breakaway companions.
As he tackled the final classified climb of the day – Alto de San Martin de Huerces – Garcia’s advantage faded quite rapidly and he was joined first by Bardet, then Roche and Costa.
The descent and flatter run-in to the finish gave five other riders – De Gendt, Pantano, De Tier, Jungels and Navarro – a chance to catch the lead four, and still with a 10-minute advantage over the peloton the winner was going to come from this group as they sprinted towards Gijón.
1. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 3h 35′ 46”
2. Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Trek-Segafredo, same time
3. Ivan Garcia (Esp) Bahrain Merida, same time
4. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, same time
5. Floris De Tier (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo, same time
6. Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors, same time
7. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, same time
8. Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team, same time
9. Daniel Navarro (Esp) Cofidis, same time
10. Koen Bouwman (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo, +45”
1. Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, 75 hr 51’51”
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain Merida, +1’37”
3. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb, +2’17”
4. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha-Alpecin, +2’29”
5. Alberto Contador (Esp) Trek-Segafredo, +3’34”
6. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team, +5’16”
7. Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac, +6’33”
8. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team, same time
9. Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky, +6’47”
10. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo, +10’26”
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