Race report

Mark Donovan and Robert Power in rain-soaked and wind-swept Vuelta breakaway

Vuelta a España

Photo Credit: Cor Vos

Today saw the peloton take on the longest stage of the Vuelta – a gruelling 230 kilometre long test from Mos to Puebla de Sanabria that featured roughly 4000 metres of elevation gain. Due to the testing profile, there was a chance that the breakaway could make it all to the finish which once again resulted in a ferocious fight to make the morning move. As in previous stages, the team were well represented in any dangerous moves before Mark Donovan and Robert Power made the decisive split – with a 13 rider group escaping after 65 hard-fought kilometres.

Their gap initially grew, continuing to expand to over five minutes and it looked as if the peloton was happy to let the break go on to fight for the stage win. However, with over 100 kilometres remaining a change in teams at the front of the bunch saw the gap to fall as both the riders and the breakaway powered into a brutally strong headwind. The gap continued to fall throughout the remainder of the stage, with Donovan and Power caught with 14 kilometres to go as the rain and winds battered the bunch. Power gave his last bit of energy to position Jasha Sütterlin for the very reduced uphill bunch sprint to the line, with Sütterlin ending the day in a respectable 14th place for the team.

“It was a really hard beginning and it took a long time for the breakaway to go,” explained Power at the finish. “Myself and Mark were in the breakaway. It was a strong headwind all day and as a group we rode well together. Unfortunately, we got caught on the descent coming down to the finish before Jasha gave it a go in the final. It was a hard, long but good day and as a team I think we rode really well. Tomorrow is a new day.”

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef added: “Again it was a really hard and long day at the Vuelta, with over 4000 altitude metres and a lot of headwind. We had two scenarios; to follow the big groups and be in there with more than one guy, or if it came down to a sprint we would support Max. The race was jumping and attacking for a very long time over the hard terrain and the guys did an amazing job to follow all of the big groups. After 60 kilometres Rob and Mark managed to get clear in a group of 13 riders. They got a time gap of almost six minutes and it looked pretty good but Bora started to chase and brought it down before NTT and Trek started. In the end, they brought it completely down in the final. It started to rain and there were some pretty cold conditions in the last 15 kilometres which dropped Max out of the bunch. We then went for Jasha in the finale, with Mark and Rob supporting him as good as possible after their big effort in front already. Jasha sprinted to 14th at the finish. It’s not directly where we had hoped for during the stage and not what we deserved after the efforts the guys put into today but it’s something we have to accept. There are still two more hard days of racing before we get to Madrid and hopefully we can show ourselves at the front once again.”

Results

Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 PHILIPSEN Jasper UAE-Team Emirates 6:18:57 100
2 ACKERMANN Pascal BORA - hansgrohe ,, 40
3 STEIMLE Jannik Deceuninck - Quick Step ,, 20
14 SÜTTERLIN Jasha Team Sunweb ,, -
38 POWER Robert Team Sunweb ,, -
91 DONOVAN Mark Team Sunweb ,, -
93 STORER Michael Team Sunweb 0:41 -
112 ARENSMAN Thymen Team Sunweb 8:30 -
113 KANTER Max Team Sunweb ,, -