Roglic tightens grip on red with remarkable ride on 'rampas inhumanas'
Tadej Pogacar took a dramatic stage win in a Slovenian one-two as Primoz Roglic strengthened his grip on the La Vuelta general classification.
Pierre Latour, part of the break that went after 39km, was denied a second Vuelta stage win following his Stage 20 success back in 2016, when Roglic (Team Jumbo–Visma) and Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) reeled the AG2R La Mondial leader in on the 25% ramp towards the finish on Los Machucos.
And Roglic didn’t appear to challenge Pogacar for the stage win, content with his own supreme performance that saw him take big time out of his major rivals.
The fallout saw Roglic tighten his grip on the red jersey, putting time into almost all of his rivals on the first of four remaining summit finishes of the race, extending his lead to 2’25” over Alejandro Valverde in second place. Pogacar moves up to third at 3’01”.
Miguel Angel Lopez finished the day 1'01” in arrears, but there were also significant losses for Valverde and Nairo Quintana.
Speaking after his second stage victory of the race, Pogacar said:
" I didn’t think I would feel so good on the last climb, I just wanted to survive today. But in the end it was an incredible day for me. I heard on the radio that nobody could follow me and Roglic – I’m really, really happy. "
And a smiling Roglic, who looked understandably delighted with gains made on rivals, said:
" It's nice to be on the top. It was a big fight today and it was good for Slovenian cycling I think today. We will see what happens in Madrid, but so far it's going very good. I've got a decent advantage, but it's still far from the finish and there are some really hard days to come, but so far so good."
Stage 13 as it happened
The stage started inside the stadium of Athletic Bilbao, with one rider taking the opportunity to visit the penalty spot!
Once the stage proper got underway, a number of attacks off the front were snuffed out in the opening 40km, before Wout Poels surged away. A chasing group caught the Ineos man to form a 29-rider break, who opened up a gap of over eight minutes
The size of the group ensured a high pace in the break, with attacks off the front by Poels again, Thomas de Gendt, and Hector Saez. The latter opened up a gap of over two minutes, but his solo effort ended on the early slopes of the final climb.
A remarkable chase by the peloton closed down an eight-minute break, and the eye-watering gradients of the final climb – known by the locals as the rampas inhumanas – saw big time gaps open up.
Quintana attempted to pick up the pace and drop Roglic, but the Slovenian was too strong and it was he who eventually dropped his rivals, leaving Quintana, Lopez and Valverde in his dust as he took compatriot Pogacar up with him.
Pogacar benefitted largely from the efforts of his fellow Slovenian Roglic, and took the white jersey for the icing on the cake.
Coming up in Stage 14
Finally there’s a chance for the sprinters after a week of slogging it up climbs in La Vuelta.
The 188km stage is largely flat, with one small climb at 3.5% coming 22.6km from the finish. Oviedo hosts the finish which, if all goes according to plan, should result in a bunch sprint.