Race report

Another solid result for the team as they continue to seek their first win at this year’s Vuelta

Vuelta a España

Photos: Cor Vos

Following a much needed restday, the riders transitioned back to the Basque Country where it all began a week ago. Departing from the regional capital, Vitoria Gasteiz, the race headed north-west towards the Puerto de Orduña, an unrelenting eight kilometre ascent which was to be tackled twice, before finishing in the minuscule town of Villanueva de Valdegovía.

Given the ragged nature of the stage’s profile, which favoured the baroudeurs, a frenetic battle to make the day’s breakaway ensued. As a consequence of the urgency to make the morning escape, the fastest expected times were well and truly surpassed, with the riders setting an average speed of well over 40 kilometres per hour.

After a number of unsuccessful attempts, a group of over 30 riders which included Thymen Arensman, Robert Power and Michael Storer, managed to assemble and build a substantial gap over the main peloton. As was the case with the previous stage, the presence of several riders threatening to seize the race lead meant their advantage remained relatively tenuous throughout. The sheer size of the front group led to incessant attacks and counterattacks in order to dispense of any excess weight in the lead up to the final climb. Despite their efforts, the stern chase from the peloton behind saw the gap to the front group swiftly diminish.

However, upon reaching the Puerto de Orduña, the peloton took their foot off the gas which allowed the breakaway to almost double their lead going into the steepest slopes of the ascent. Meanwhile the group of main GC favourites were biding their time, there were several attacking moves going over the top which ultimately formed a group of five at the head of the race. In spite of the quality of the leading quintet, a committed chase behind commanded by Storer and Arensman really put the pressure on, but was ultimately ineffective in reeling them back in, which meant they had to settle for minor places, finishing 12th and 13th respectively.

“Another very hard day!” exclaimed Storer after the race. “A lot of  teams were looking to get in the breakaway. Jasha did a fantastic job in creating the split for me to get across. Rob and Thymen also made it to the break meaning we once again had three riders in the escape. I believe that’s the fourth time we’ve managed to do this which is super impressive. On the last climb Movistar set a very hard pace and we unfortunately just missed out on the winning move.” 

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef added: “It was a really hard day today, especially the start. It took over 60km to form a successful breakaway! Once again we did a great job to put so many riders in the move. Initially, we had Thymen, Robert, Michael and even Mark was there, though he had to drop back to the peloton on the first climb. As expected, the race was settled on the final climb. Thymen and Michael managed to keep up with the leaders all the way up the climb. It’s a shame that the group of five slipped away over the top. The boys did everything they could to bring them back, but the leading group was just that little bit too strong. It was a faultless race from them today.”

Results

Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 WOODS Michael EF Pro Cycling 3:48:16 100
2 FRAILE Omar Astana Pro Team 0:04 40
3 VALVERDE Alejandro Movistar Team ,, 20
12 STORER Michael Team Sunweb 0:13 -
13 ARENSMAN Thymen Team Sunweb ,, -
47 POWER Robert Team Sunweb 0:56 -
63 SÜTTERLIN Jasha Team Sunweb 7:54 -
139 DONOVAN Mark Team Sunweb 16:58 -
151 SALMON Martin Team Sunweb ,, -
152 KANTER Max Team Sunweb ,, -