Race report

Thymen Arnensman takes impressive 3rd place after day in hard-fought Vuelta breakaway

Vuelta a España

Photos: Cor Vos

Today’s stage at the Vuelta on paper looked too hard for the sprinters but too easy for the GC riders, making it the perfect type of stage for the breakaway. However, with the whole peloton knowing this, it was an incredibly fast start to the day with the opening hour of racing averaging over 50 kilometres per hour.

Team Sunweb were incredibly active at the front and infiltrated an initial 14 rider breakaway with three riders; Robert Power, Michael Storer and Martin Salmon. The group worked well together but some teams in the peloton weren’t happy with the composition and after 80 kilometres of fast paced action, it was all back together. Poised and ready for the next attack, the team once again were present, this time with three riders in a 12 man group; Power, Thymen Arensman and Mark Donovan.

Due to the presence of a few dangerous riders on GC, the gap wasn’t allowed to grow out much further than a minute so the team started to use their numbers and attack. Arensman managed to get clear with Tim Wellens, before Guillaume Martin bridged across on the opening climb of the day. The trio worked well together and managed to extend their gap as Donovan, Power and the rest of the breakaway were caught and the peloton sat up. Despite a late chase from a couple of teams, they had plenty of time spare to fight it out for the stage win in Sabiñanigo.

Hatching a plan, Arensman jumped with just over one kilometre to go, hoping the other two riders would look at each other and he’d get clear. Unfortunately, Wellens was alert to the danger and immediately closed him down. On the steep final few hundred metres Arensman had nothing left to give in the sprint, but still crossed the line for a very impressive third place; a great result on his Grand Tour debut and after a brilliant team display.

“Today was in the beginning a very hard day,” explained a smiling Arensman after the stage. “The team did a really great job and we had three guys in the first breakaway, while me and the rest of the guys in the bunch were just protecting it and jumping with other groups. We did such a great job as a team in the beginning so when the break was brought back the guys in the bunch were already ready to go with the new breakaway. It went, including myself Robert and Mark. The other teams saw how strong we were, so we just put pressure on the break. I attacked with Tim Wellens, with around 100 kilometres to go and we got a nice gap and worked really well together. On the next climb Guillaume Martin joined us and the two of them were really strong. They were really pushing on the climbs but I could hold on and I felt great to be honest. I knew that I don’t have the best sprint so I tried to attack in the final but in the end they didn’t look at each other. It was just a really nice third place for me and I think I can be proud of my performance but also really proud of the team, how we worked together today and we showed that we have a really strong team here.” 

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef continued: “Our goal was to go for a breakaway today; we did a really amazing job. We were super sharp for the first breakaway of 14 riders, that we had three guys in; Michael, Rob and Martin. There was a chance for around 80 kilometres on really hard terrain where the time gap went between 20 and 40 seconds, before the break was caught. After 90 kilometres a new breakaway went of 12 riders, with Rob again, Thymen and Mark. Kuss was there alongside Bagioli so the group didn’t get too much time so we started to attack again and Thymen got a gap with Wellens. On the first climb of the day Martin made the bridge so there were the three of them out front and they worked well together. In the final two kilometres we said we should give it a go so Thymen made an attack. Unfortunately, Wellens reacted immediately and in the end Thymen was spent and he finished third. It’s a really good result with this young group, especially after a hard stage like this. To have three guys in the breakaway all the time, it’s a really big compliment to them all about how sharp and good we are, and it’s promising for the upcoming two weeks.”

Results

Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 WELLENS Tim Lotto Soudal 4:19:25 100
2 MARTIN Guillaume Cofidis, Solutions Crédits 0:04 40
3 ARENSMAN Thymen Team Sunweb 0:12 20
42 POWER Robert Team Sunweb 2:13 -
80 SÜTTERLIN Jasha Team Sunweb 9:41 -
87 STORER Michael Team Sunweb ,, -
103 DONOVAN Mark Team Sunweb 12:49 -
118 KANTER Max Team Sunweb ,, -
143 SALMON Martin Team Sunweb 17:38 -