Vuelta a Espana 2021 - Stage 13 as it happened - Florian Senechal the surprise winner on long, hot day
Frenchman Florian Senechal was the Deceuninck-QuickStep winner nobody expected to see after Fabio Jakobsen pulled up early in the final bunch sprint. It was second place for Matteo Trentin, while Egan Bernal snatched back five seconds from his GC rivals. You can watch La Vuelta live and ad-free on the Eurosport app and Eurosport.co.uk.
Stage 13 profile: Belmez – Villanueva de la Serena
The Colombian was right in the mix there and finished 10 with a gap of six seconds on the winner. The main pack of favourites - including the likes of Roglic, Mas, Lopez and the red jersey Eiking - crossed the line 11 seconds down and so the white jersey claws back five seconds in the general classification.
The stage winner says that Fabio Jakobsen had a flat tyre and told his teammate to go for it down the radio... It's one of the unlikely wins of the year - not the Frenchman or even the Deceuninck-QuickStep rider we expected to see cross the line first. As for Arnaud Demare - he wasn't even in the top 30.
Here's how Senechal took the unexpected win:
Maiden Grand Tour stage win for Senechal
That's the 28-year-old work horse's biggest win - his first on a major tour and only the third of his career. He beat Trentin (UAE Team Emirates) by a wheel with Alberto Dainese (Team DSM) in third at two seconds. Riders came home in drips and drabs and so there may well be some time gaps, so we'll have to keep an eye on those.
Victory for Florian Senechal!
What a turn up for the books - Deceuninck-QuickStep get the win but not for their man in green but for his pilot Florian Senechal! It was a two-man battle between the Frenchman and Matteo Trentin but the Italian just doesn't have enough to come past Senechal.
The sprint was opened up by one of the Alpecin-Fenix riders, Alexander Krieger, who thought he was working for Sacha Modolo - but his teammate wasn't there while Senechan and Trentin were!
And Jakobsen has given up! He can't keep the wheel and the green jersey drops back. So, can QuickStep finish it off with someone else? Trentin is still there though...
2km: Demare and Groupama out of it
Everyone has had their pocket picked by QuickStep here with gaps appearing and no sight of Demare or his teammates at all.
3km: Jakobsen out of position
QuickStep emerged from a tight roundabout with four riders on the front and riding clear of the pack. Only one problem: Fabio Jakobsen wasn't one of them. The green jersey is further back on Tom Pidcock's wheel alongside Matteo Trentin. Very scrappy.
5km: Ineos get involved
The British team want to keep Bernal and Yates out of trouble ahead of the mountains, where they will need to put in some good performances to turn their race around. Groupama, BikeExchange, Alpecin-Fenix are also very much in the thick of things working for Demare, Matthews and Modolo, I guess. And here come Decuninck-QuickStep... blimey, they're there in force. Looks like game over for anyone not in green.
10km: Wanty and DSM string out the pack
The red jersey of Odd Christian Eiking has two Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert teammates leading him on the front of the peloton as they negotiate a series of roundabouts outside the town of Villanueva de la Serena. Team DSM are also there for their sprinter Antonio Dainese while Movistar are also there to keep Mas and Lopez out of trouble.
13km: Jakobsen 'wins' sprint
QuickStep duo Bert Van Lerberghe and Fabio Jakobsen edge clear of the pack ahead of the sprint and no one else seems remotely interested in the intermediate sprint. That allows the Dutchman to run through uncontested to pocket maximum points with his Belgian teammate taking those for second place ahead of the pack. After all the promise of the opening week, it's safe to say the green jersey competition is pretty much stiched up for the current incumbent - especially if he goes on to win the stage in 10 minutes. Provided he makes it all the way to Santiago de Compostela, that is.
Those 20pts puts Jakobsen 86 points clear of his nearest challenger, Magnus Cort, who we don't think is going to challenge in today's bunch sprint.
20km: Intermediate sprint before the finish
Before the finish there's the small matter of the intermediate sprint at Don Benito, which sounds like a brand of tinned tomato sauce or a drug baron from Better Called Saul or Sopranos. It's a strange place to have an intermediate sprint - I don't mean Don Benito, but more to the point with 13km to go - because it's unlikely that any of the green jersey candidates will look to peak so soon ahead of the final. Perhaps it could be a launch pad for someone?
28km: All over for the break
Our Spanish trio of Luis Angel Mate (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Diego Rubio (Burgos-BH) and Alvaro Cuadros (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) have been caught after clocking up around 176km off the front of the race but having never generated a lead of more than three minutes.
34km: Groupama and Deceuninck on the front
Groupama-FDJ have (I think) the Swede Tobias Ludviggson on the front while Deceuninck-QuickStep have put James Knox on the front - both paving the way for their respective sprinters Demare and Jakobsen. Behind, Movistar and Jumbo-Visma have their entire teams. The gap is down to 25 seconds for the three leaders, who really drew the short straw today. Still, must be less hectic riding in a trio than a peloton, so there's that as a consolation.
Knox is an interesting case. The rise of Julian Alaphilippe, Remco Evenepoel and Joao Almeida as GC forces at QuickStep seemed to have put the brakes on the Briton's career. He's finished 11th in the Vuelta in 2019 and 14th in the Giro last year. But he still hasn't ridden a Tour de France and this May he was very much low down in the pecking order at the Giro, where he came 53rd after doing a job for Almeida and Evenepoel. The 25-year-old is currently 86th on GC so on course for his lowest finish in five Grand Tours. It will be interesting to see what happens once Almeida leaves the team.
40km: Calm before a short storm
Movistar, Ineos, Jumbo-Visma, Trek-Segafredo and Bahrain Victorious are all near the front of the pack which has slowed up once again having come to within 25 seconds of the breakaway just a few kilometres ago. The gap is now one minute again as the yo-yoing continues. There will be a big battle for the sprint today but with some of the sprinters having left this race - most notably Jasper Philipsen - it may not be as hectic as usual.
50km: Status quo restored
The peloton is back together after that brief flurry of action. A collecting easing up sees the breakaway's lead stretch back up above the minute mark. Meanwhile, Eurosport have just run an interview with the Spaniard Jon Aberasturi of Caja Rural, who said: "I feel like I'm improving and I will be going for the stage win." His best results so far have been two sixth place sprints.
56km: Peloton split in two
We have around 60 riders in the leading group and the rest in the second group... but it appears that the two are coming back together... Meanwhile, with the leading trio now just 25 seconds clear, we have one or two counter-attacks from the front.
60km: Pace whips up as things get windy
Oh, hello! Lotto, Ineos and Alpecin up the tempo as the wind gets going a little and some splits have appeared in the peloton, which was all strung out when that acceleration occurred. This may spell the end for the breakaway... and this actually looks quite dangerous - the gaps are growing...
63km: Trentin and Roglic chew the fat
The likable Italian and the equally affable Slovenian shoot the breeze in the peloton - they both look fairly relaxed with the gap now back up to 1:35. With the cameras rolling, Trentin discards an empty water bottle so he can expect a 500 Swiss franc fine from the UCI for that discretion...
Demare: 'We'll miss Guarnieri but I'm confident'
We spoke to Frenchman Arnaud Demare this morning and this is what he said, according to Carlton Kirby who was translating over the top of the original French (which I'd have liked to hear for the purpose of verification, but hey).
“I feel good. I went though some troubles in the mountains but I just need to put in a good sprint. It’s the penultimate opportunity. We need to be careful from the start. Without Jasper Philipsen there may be fewer teams at the end. Obviously I’m going to miss Jacopo Guarnieri, so we’re going to need to get organised differently. We need to use all our strengths to have a good cocktail – and I hope the tiredness of the peloton will help me to win. Ramon Sinkeldam is capable of replacing Guarnieri. It changes the order a bit but I’m still confident. The start of this race hasn’t gone as planned because I haven’t achieved my goal – but so far as there’s hope, I’ll be eager to try.”
75km: Just one minute now for trio
Cofidis have gathered near the front of the pack along with DSM, Groupama and Deceuninck. The French team will be hoping to set up their Belgian debutant Piet Allegaert for the finish today. The 26-year-old took fifth in Stage 5 and has two other top 10 finishes in sprints. But with the gap down to seconds, not minutes, there's a collective easing up. Catching this trio now would be rather foolhardy.
"On paper this stage was quite exposed and had the wind blown it would have been a different matter. The way it's panned out in the bunch is just a draining day, physically and mentally. The heat will be taking its toll," says Tom Southam, joining Carlton Kirby in the commentary box.
85km: Bobcat on the loose
Today is our annual reminder that Luis Angel 'The Bobcat' Mate still sports his timeless rat's tail braid in his hair. Cycling's ultimate hipster, the Spaniard could just as well be a barista in Hoxton with a sideline in 3D pavement art while working as a waiter at the odd weekend for weddings. In the real world, 37-year-old Mate - after 10 seasons at Cofidis - joined Euskaltel on a two-year deal this winter. While he's never won a Grand Tour stage, he finished 19th in the Vuelta in 2014 and once cracked the top 10 on a Tour de France stage.
Tom Southam on EF's strategy shift
We wrote about Magnus Cort benefiting from his teammate Hugh Carthy's early exit from this Vuelta in the opinion piece below, but here it is from the horse's mouth - that mouth being the lovely beard-surrounded one attached to the face of EF Education-Nippo directeur sportif Tom Southam, who is in the Eurosport studio today.
'You tell riders to do a different job' - Tom Southam on EF strategy shift
100km: Time for a hot lunch
The peloton enter the feed zone with the temperature now up to 36 degrees. The pace has really slowed as the riders delve into their musettes and that's not too surprising: the gap is down to 1:35 and they won't want to catch this trio too soon. Might as well stop and fry a few eggs on the road before exerting the requisite energy to reel these chaps in before the finish.
Deceuninck-QuickStep, Groupama-FDJ and Team DSM still front the pack, with the red jersey of Eikin tucked in a bit further behind amid his Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert teammates.
115km to go: Still two minutes for trio
The riders covered 38.2km in the second hour of the day and so the pace has remained fairly constant - and noticeably slower than yesterday. The temperature is 32 degrees. Another thing worth remembering when it comes to Arnaud Demare's chances are the fact that he's without his leadout man Jacopo Guarnieri, who withdrew a few days ago with fatigue. Things just haven't clicked for Groupama and Demare in this Vuelta.
Cort to take a day off?
Tom Southam, a directeur sportif for EF Education-Nippo who is not working on the Vuelta, is a guest on the Eurosport sofa today with Orla and Sean. He was just asked whether the team's in-form sprinter-puncheur Magnus Cort will go for today's stage and try to reduce his green jersey deficit of 66 points to Fabio Jakobsen. This is how Southam replied:
"I would say that [the chances of that] are fairly remote. Our strategy with him has been to just go for the stages that he could win. On a day like today it's probably a bit out of his comfort zone, doing a mass bunch sprint with the whole bunch there. I'm not sure the idea will be to do the sprint today. And I think by the end of today we'll be another 50 points behind Jakobsen, to be honest..."
So that's a no for a Cort hat-trick then.
Roglic: 'They just took me out'
By "they" I imagine the defending champion means Ineos duo Dylan van Baarle and Tom Pidcock, whose touch of wheels seemed to cause yesterday's mini GC pile-up 55km from the finish. Here's what the Slovenian had to say this morning about his second crash in three days:
"I didn't really see how the crash happened. They just took me out. I couldn't do anything. I had to go off-road and into the forest. There was nothing I could do. There was also barbed wire, and a lot of teams there. Somehow, let's day I survived quite well. We'll see if I suffer from it today but hopefully it's all fine, we can enjoy today and go on without unnecessary problems."
'He'll be thinking about it' - How crashes will impact Roglic for remainder of Vuelta
Today's three-man move in all its glory
Once again it's the familiar combo of day-glow orange, deep purple and luminous green 'n white which is animating the front of the race. Here's a picture of our all-Spanish leading trio of Luis Angel Mate (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Diego Rubio (Burgos-BH) and Alvaro Cuadros (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA). The gap has dropped to two minutes with around 135km remaining.
Luis Ángel Maté Mardones of Spain and Team Euskaltel - Euskadi, Diego Rubio Hernandez of Spain and Team Burgos - BH and Alvaro Cuadros Morata of Spain and Team Caja Rural-Seguros RGA compete in the breakaway during the 76th Tour of Spain 2021, Stage 13
Image credit: Getty Images
150km: Gap approaching three minutes
The riders are on a descent now after one of the day's longest and sharpest uncategorised climbs. The three Spaniards on the head of the race have 2:50 over the peloton.
So, who else could win today's stage beyond Jakobsen, Dainese and Demare - the three riders we have already mentioned? Magnus Cort is an obvious candidate: he's won two stages now, most recently yesterday's reduced bunch sprint in Cordoba. He came third behind Jakobsen and Demare in the bunch sprint in Stage 4 so he proved then that he's capable of putting up a fight with the pure sprinters - although after his last two days, it would be a huge ask. He is the Vuelta's form rider, though.
Australia's Michael Matthews, Belgians Jordi Meeus and Piet Allegaert, Italy's Matteo Trentin and Spain's Jon Aberasturi are all outside - to the point of very much at the bottom of the garden - bets. But you never know. The sensible money is on Jakobsen - two years ago to the day from when he picked up his maiden Vuelta stage win.
160km: Slow opening first hour
Compared to yesterday, where the peloton covered 50km in the opening hour, the riders only managed 38km today. That says a bit about how the race is being ridden right now - hardly surprising given the heat, the previous few days, and what's in store over the weekend. Lotto Soudal have also come to the front to help with the chase but the gap is up to 2:25 for the three leaders: Mate, Rubio and Cuadros.
Demare yesterday, Le Gac today
You know things are quite quiet when you're resorting to pointing out riders' birthdays... but here we go: there'll be need for more cake on the Groupama team bus with Olivier Le Gac's 28th birthday one day after teammate Arnaud Demare's 30th. Now can they celebrate it with a win today for their French sprinter? After disappointing in the Tour following an early crash, Demare really needs to give his season a kick-start. His last victory came back in early June. Below, Arnaud points to where he wants to finish later today...
180km: Groupama-FDJ and Team DSM chip in
Deceuninck are being helped out by the Groupama and DSM teams of winless sprinters Arnaud Demare and Alberto Dainese - both of whom will hope for a turn in their fortunes today when coming up against the man in green. Despite coming to the race with a dedicated leadout train, Demare, who turned 30 yesterday, only has one top five finish so far - in Stage 4 when he came second behind Jakobsen.
For 23-year-old Grand Tour debutant Dainese it's a slightly different story: the U23 European road race champion notched three top five finishes - fourth in Stage 4, third in Stage 5 and second in Stage 8. He's improving incrementally in each sprint he takes part in - and if his progression continues he'll logically take the win today. If only it were that easy...
There is some hope...
This just in from a reporter out in the field. Perhaps wind could be a factor today in the final hour or so...
190km: No threat from the break
For either the red jersey or the green jersey, it would seem. None of the three Spaniards have cracked the top 10 yet so far in this race, with Mate's 36th place in Stage 7 their highest finish on aggregate. It's the Euskaltel veteran who is best placed on GC, albeit one hour and 21 seconds down on the current leader, Eiking. Mate is the only of the three to have any pro wins to his name but those wins - in La Route du Sud Cycliste and the Tour de San Luis - came over a decade ago. Mate rides his 10th Vuelta and Rubio his fourth, while Cuadros is a debutant.
Deceuninck-QuickStep control the front of the peloton for their man Fabio Jakobsen (who they wish to propel to a third win in around four and a half hours' time). The gap has stuck to around the two-minute mark. Unless we see some winds or splits, this could be the status quo for quite some time - especially seeing that the intermediate sprint doesn't come until the final 11km of the stage...
195km: The antithesis of previous stages
Yesterday it took almost two hours and 80-odd kilometres - raced fast and furiously - for the breakaway to stick; the day before it took 30km of blistering riding before the move went; the day before that the mega break of 31 did not form until 70km into the stage. Today, however, it's been a relative piece of cake: the only three teams interested put one rider up the road - there was no response, and that appears to be that. Two minutes now for this all-Spanish trio.
204km to go: Stage 13 under way!
Under blue skies and in a balmy temperature of 31 degrees Celsius, the race gets going with an attack pretty much from the outset. Three riders signal their intent by pinging off the front. They are Diego Rubio (Burgos-BH), Alvaro Cuadros (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Luis Angel Mate (Euskaltel-Euskadi). The Spanish wildcard teams keeping to the script, then.
Riders in the neutral zone
The remaining 165 riders have left Belmez and its fantastic castle and are currently rolling through the 7.2km neutral section ahead of kilometre zero where the race will get going. A reminder that Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) is enjoying his third day in red, Egan Bernal is in white, Fabio Jakobsen green and Damiano Caruso polka dots.
Two non-starters: Omar and The Schach
After what had been a pretty underwhelming two weeks - during which the German champion questioned whether he'd left his legs and form back in Japan - Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) has decided to call it a day. According to his DS Steffen Radochla: "His muscles were quite bad and he couldn't recover at night from the heat and the stress of the stage."
The second non-starter is Spanish champion Omar Fraile of Astana-PremierTech. He crashed yesterday - off the back of a bad week on the bike - and never really returned to the fold. This from his team:
Stage 13 to reopen the door for Fabio Jakobsen?
The 203.7km stage is largely flat and should culminate in perhaps the last bunch sprint of this race. With his biggest rival Jasper Philipsen out of the race, Dutchman Fabio Jakobsen will look for a third stage win that should stretch his lead in the green jersey standings after Magnus Cort came within 64 points with his performance yesterday.
But the roads are long, straight and at times exposed, making crosswinds a real threat - provided there's some bluster - while the temperature could be a factor: yesterday the mercury pushed 40 degrees Celsius. Roll out at 11:32 UK time. Here's the profile:
Carthy's loss is Cort's gain: How EF turned things round
EF Education-Nippo have certainly found the silver lining of Hugh Carthy’s early departure after seeing their versatile sprinter Magnus Cort Nielsen hit top gear with a brace of wins in La Vuelta. The closing of one door has opened another for the American team in Spain with the moustachioed Dane becoming the fifth rider to double up so far in this year's race.
This time last year, Britain’s Hugh Carthy has just won Stage 12 on the mighty Alto de l’Angliru to move up into third place in the general classification – a position he would keep all the way to Madrid as the then 26-year-old cemented a career-first podium finish in a Grand Tour. This in a race where Magnus Cort and Michael Woods had also picked up stage wins – a race that was perhaps the most successful in EF’s Grand Tour history.
Magnus Cort and Hugh Carthy of EF Education-Nippo during the 2020 Vuelta a Espana
Image credit: Getty Images
Fast forward 11 months and the outlook seemed rather bleak when that man Carthy was caught out in the crosswind splits that animated the business end of Stage 6. With Cort riding up the road in the five-man breakaway, Carthy was pedalling squares in no-man’s land. He was paced back by his teammates just ahead of the Alto de la Montana de Cullera – but sunk like a stone as soon as the gradient ramped up.
But Cort hung on and took the win, came close to repeating that in Stage 11, then did make it two one day later. Read on to see how Cort helped EF bounce back from their Carthy set-back.
'He will be concerned' - How Roglic will react to a second Vuelta crash in just three days
A second crash in three stages could impact how race favourite Primoz Roglic approaches the remainder of the Vuelta.
That’s the view of the Breakaway panel, who watched the defending champion go to ground with 54 kilometres to go of Stage 12 following a pile up involving a number of other riders.
The Jumbo-Visma rider appeared to emerge without any serious injury to continue the race, eventually finishing in 12th place.
However, following a previous spill following an attempted attack on Stage 10, Sean Kelly believes the incidents will play on the Slovenian’s mind going forward.
“For Primoz Roglic, he had the crash already and today again another crash,” said Kelly. “He’s going to be thinking about that and it makes you a bit nervous because you think luck is not on your side and you need a bit of good luck to be in the right place and when the crashes occur.
“He will be a little concerned, but I don’t think it will affect him in the race.
“We didn’t see any close up shots of if he had any damage, I don’t think there were so then you say ‘I was unlucky again today but I came out lucky because I didn’t do any major damage.’”
'He'll be thinking about it' - How crashes will impact Roglic for remainder of Vuelta
Stage 12 recap - Redemption for Magnus Cort as Dane doubles up
Denmark’s Magnus Cort showed off his blistering form with an astonishing second win one day after he had his heart broken so close to the finish. In temperatures pushing 40 degrees in Andalusia, Cort was launched by his EF Education-Nippo team-mate Jens Keukeleire on the home straight in Cordoba and managed to hold off a late surge by Italian youngster Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck-QuickStep) for the fifth Vuelta stage win of his career.
A second crash in three days provided a heart-in-mouth moment for defending champion Primoz Roglic, but the Slovenian recovered to finish the day safely in the main field.
Australia’s Michael Matthews and Italy’s Matteo Trentin were unable to deliver the goods after their respective BikeExchange and UAE Team Emirates squads moved heaven and earth to deliver their fastmen to the line following two tough climbs at the conclusion of a 175km Stage 12 that was ridden at a ferocious pace from start to finish.