La Vuelta | Stage 14



And that's that for stage 14...

Read the full report here.
Vuelta a España
‘The downside of having too much money’ – Wiggins on Ineos' muddled Vuelta strategy
06/09/2021 AT 19:55
Thanks for joining me, I'll be back tomorrow for MORE montanas.

Praise for Bardet...

The GC men cross the line...

That's ballsy stuff from Lopez, he'll improve his GC time difference if not his actual placing. In the end when Kuss was finished, Roglic kicked on and closed the gap himself. It looks to be about five seconds gained for the Colombian Movistar rider. Enric Mas, Jack Haig and Egan Bernal were the only other riders with Roglic when he crossed the line.
Crucially for the fate of the red jersey, Eiking was able to limit any time losses to Guillaume Martin to the low double figures and retain the overall race lead.

Kruijswijk has gone pop

So now Sepp Kuss takes up the chase. Last man for Roglic here. Looks like Lopez may get around 30 seconds back on GC today and really consolidate that podium spot.
Enric Mas is safely ensconced right behind Roglic, while Eiking is the very last man in the group now. Gosh, he's fighting hard to honour the maillot rojo!

2km to go – Miguel Angel Lopez attacks!

Now that's a rider Jumbo has to chase. He immediately gets a gap of about 7-10 seconds. He has two minutes to make up on Roglic on GC, and right now Jumbo seem happy to let him go.

3.5km to go –Eiking clinging on

In the red jersey group, being led by Jumbo Visma, the current maillot rojo is down right near the back.
Sam Oomen is grinding out the ryhthm at the moment, with plenty more Jumbo riders to take things up if needed. Egan Bernal is also way further down in the bunch than we'd usually expect to see him.
It looks like that Cofidis attack has been brought back, but Giulio Ciccon is still a little way off the front. He's seeking to improve his GC position.

The Bardet-day has finally come!

It's a beautiful, muscular stage win from Romain Bardet. He was the strongest climber today and he grabs his well-deserved victory.
Herrada leads out the sprint for second against Jay Vine, with the Australian not quite strong enough to come past him.

Flamme rouge

For Bardet at least, there's just one final kilometre to the finish. He stands up out of the saddle in that long-limbed, rangy way of his and kicks once again.
Down the mountain, Cofidis kick on! They want to put pressure on Odd Christian Eiking, who is already slipping down through the peloton. If they can put 59 seconds into him, Guillaume Martin gets the red jersey.

3km to go – Roglic with just one helper left

Colour me intrigued... will keep an eye on that situation as best I can.
Vine has been caught by Jesus Herrada. Will that pair have to settle for the other two podium spots, with Bardet on top?

4km to go – Brambilla attacks the peloton

Not sure why. Perhaps as a bridge for his teammate Ciccone? Nope, looks like it's actually Trek trying to come to the front to set the pace, not an attack.
Zeits, Prodhomme, Vine, Herrada and Champoussin are now all together as group 2, but Bardet has already eked out a gap of 30 seconds.
And now Jay Vine attacks that quintet! He's on one today.

5.5km to go – Heartbreakingly strong from Bardet

Bardet and Zeits have been locked in this battle of wills for what feels like half an hour, grimly fighting for every metre – and Bardet has just closed the 50-second gap to them in a matter of moments. He passes them and jets off towards the summit like it aint no thang. Now Zeits and Prodhomme combine their efforts as the second 'group' on the road, but they surely cannot catch the flying Frenchman from Team DSM.

6km to go – Bardet kicks on

He's on a very good day, Bardet, and he's pressing on now – having succeeded finally in distancing the pursuers of 'group 3' (Champoussin, Vine, Geniets et al).
Zeits is catching Prodhomme incrementally, while Bardet attempts to close that gap.

7km to go – Movistar take over in the peloton

They've put two riders on the front to try and pressurise Jumbo and immediately a couple of the Dutch team's domestiques do get dropped.
Meanwhile, Prodhomme is doing a great job of holding off the pursuers. They're at 1'10" back now, although Zeits continues to persevere just a few hundred metres behind..
We might just have seen a haymaker-style attack from young Tommy Pidcock in the group of pursuers.

10km to go – No cooperation in the chase

It's Prodhomme, still, solo. Zeits is behind him also alone. Then at 51 seconds we have eight more pursuers. They are Geniets, Holmes, Bardet, Champoussin, Pidcock, Vine, Gibbons and Herrada.
One of those names will surely win the stage.

11km to go – Bardet gives chase

He can sense the balance shifting and the virtual king of the mountains sets off after his compatriot, Prodhomme. The acceleration has distanced Tom Pidcock, and most of the others to be fair. Jesus Herrada has gone after Bardet. Jay 'Lazarus' Vine, dossards a'flapping in the wind, is also getting stuck into this new chase group.

13km to go – Jumbo lockdown

Once again, the Dutch team are blocking the whole road (presumably to deter attacks). They're clearly anxious to control this stage without actually investing the kind of effort it would take to put on a full mountain train. Could it be that Roglic is on an iffy day?
For my money, the other GC teams shouldn't really take this lying down.
Meanwhle, Prodhomme is suffering deep, while the chasing trio behind him has also disintegrated. It's just Andrey Zeits from Bike Exchange left pursuing the Frenchman, at 36 seconds down.

15km to go – Prodhomme is doing a madness

The young Frenchman is pressing his advantage and it's creating a little bit of panic in the group chasing him. They're looking a little ragged here as they try to marshal themselves into a chase effort. Some good news, too, Jay Vine is not only back on his bike – he's back in the pursuers group. Dani Navarro, too, is up and riding again.

Navarro crashes into Vanmarcke!

The two veterans came into contact with another in a turn, with Navarro drastically misreading the angle and careering into the Belgian. Let's hope they're OK, it looked like a reasonably controlled collision, but it's Vanmacke whose come off worse.
What we're seeing is this is a very tricky, technical section right before the last ascent to Pico Villuercas.

26km to go – Prodhomme presses on

The young Frenchman digs in again after an acceleration from the pursuing group briefly brought the breakaway back together. It's canny stuff from Prodhomme and AG2R because they have two cards to play in this stage finale; the guy currently animating the move, and Clement Champoussin, who has been taking it easy in the group behind for some 20 kilometres now. He'll be one of the fresher guys when we hit those brutal inclines in just over 10km.
With Prodhomme, we have Navarro once again and Sep Vanmarcke.

29km to go – Holmes is back from the dead!

The Brit has bridged over to the leading pair and he's brought eternal nearly-man Sep Vanmarcke across too. We now have four riders in the lead with 46 seconds on the rest of the break. We're not actually on the climb to Pico Villuercas yet, that's in 14 km, but already some of the heftier riders from the break are getting spat on a little incline.
The peloton continue their largely serene progress towards the day's denouement, 12 minutes further back down the road.

Crash Jay Vine!

And this looks very bad. He misjudged the distance between himself and his team car as he went to take a bottle and was dragged down effectively by the momentum of the car. He's staying down, clutching his right shoulder and his right knee is very bloody. That's a horrible blow for the Aussie debutant. I doubt he'll continue.

35km to go – Two in front

Navarro and Prodhomme are pushing on still, with the other erstwhile members of the break follow closely at 55 seconds. The peloton being led by Jumbo is at 11'18" so I think we can say with some certainty that the stage win is going to the breakaway here.

40km to go – All eight Jumbos lead the way

The Dutch team are keeping a lid on things nicely here. The team of current overall leader Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarche Wanty Groupe Gobert) have done their bit in terms of honouring the red jersey, and left things to the race leader-elect, Primox Roglic. That being said, we expect Eiking to battle hard to defend his jersey on this final climb, it just depends if there are proper GC hostilities or not.

Puncture for Matt Holmes

That's a pain. It'll probably spell the end of his chances in that little trio of counter-attackers.

49km to go – Attack de Matt Holmes

And the Lotto Soudal rider brings Dani Navarro and Nicolas Prodhomme with him in the slipstream. These guys fancy getting a little head start on their second (and final) rep of the Pico Villuercas. It's a bold strategy, Cotton..
There's about 30km to go before we return to the slopes of Villuercas for the final 14km ascent all the way to the top. Before that we have an intermediate sprint to come, which Arnaud Demare might be vaguely interested in, and then quite a bit of lumpy, jaggedy terrain before the climb proper.

Steep stuff!

58km to go – Caruso shepherding Haig up the slopes

The Bahrain team have changed their priorities after a terrible opening fortnight for Mikel Landa. They're now putting their h'eggs in the Haig basket, after the young Aussie powered his way back into GC contention through an opportunistic day in the breakaway. That means current polka dot jersey-wearer Damiano Caruso is on team duty helping Haig, rather than up the road battling Bardet for the mountains points.
The peloton has jjust gone through the KOM kite at the summit of the Alto Collado de Ballesteros, and now they take the opportunity to have a little drink before the 20% madness begins again.
The time gap is 9'19" now to the break. I think they'll contest the stage win between them.

67km to go – Bardet battles the incline

This is an absolutely stunning climb, a real feast for the eyes with huge crowds lining the upper slopes. It's Romain Bardet who skips away from the rest of the breakaway in pursuit of those maximum points again and he should secure them without much contest.
Behind him, the British rider Matt Holmes is going very well, as is Jens Keukeleire from EF Education First Nippo. Tom Pidcock has been dropped, but he's pretty fearless when it comes to the descents and might yet regain contact.
Back down the mountain, the peloton have begun the ascent too and they are being led up the steep, steep lower slopes by Jumbo-Visma who are there en masse for Roglic and seem to be blocking the road a bit, whether intentionally or not.

Collado de Ballesteros tees off...

This is a climb in the vein of Los Machucos, with a rough-and-rutted concrete surface. It's also really steep! This is going to be a really brutal climb (and the riders will do it twice, don't forget).
Andrey Zeits leads the way up the climb, before Dani Navarro comes around him.

74km to go – Three points to Gryffindor!

Sorry, 'Romain Bardet'. Three points to Romain Bardet.
The Frenchman 'wins' the first categorised climb of the day and takes maximum points. He beats Ryan Gibbons, who doesn't look particularly bothered either way, and the break now has a little bit of bumpy stuff to tackle before the first ascent of our day's MegaMontana, the Puerto Collado de Ballesteros.
You can feel the tension rising on this stage all the way from dreary Cambridgeshire!

80km to go – Climbing through the woods

I've been fascinated by Extremadura for a few years now and – unlike the other regions of Spain – we rarely get to see it featured in La Vuelta. This year, however, we're getting a real peek into what this western province has to offer. Trees, winding climbs, vast blue lakes and some epic mountain ascents to come later this afternoon. So far, I am enchanted, I have to say!

90km to go – Bardet's day to take the spotty jersey?

The Frenchman had his GC hopes dashed quite early in the race, and has switched his focus over to the pursuit of the climber's jersey instead. At the moment he is second behind current king of the mountains, Damiano Caruso. However, Caruso is not in the move today and Bardet is.
Provided Bardet can scoop five of the available 23 KOM points on offer today, he should go into the jersey tonight.

100km to go – A new mountain

The breakaway have already begun ascending, but this lower part of the climb is not actually categorised. For that, we must wait about 15 more kilometres. They'll climb the Puerto Berzocama, a category 3, followed by the category 1 Puerto Collado de Ballesteros. It's not – as far as I know – got anything to do with the iconic golfer, Seve, but I'll do a bit more research.
The Collado de Ballesteros and our final ascent, the Pico Villuercas, are actually one and the same mountain, but with the earlier ascent not quite going all the way to the peak. Neither 'way up' has ever featured in La Vuelta before, making today yet another example of this wonderful race's ability to turn up new and horrifically difficult summit finishes almost every year.
The gap for the breakaway is over eight minutes now.

120km to go – Red looks good on you...

Nice to see Intermarché milking that jersey while they have it. Wonder if Cristiano will be watching today... The break have six minutes now.

130km to go – Roglic looking good for return to red

Felix Lowe doesn't much rate the chances of Eiking to still be in red by the second rest day. Five minutes now for the break!
Opinion: Roglic poised to return to red after decisive weekend in the mountains

136km to go – Intermarche chasing

The team of race leader Odd Christian Eiking are the ones working at the front of the peloton, but they won't strain themselves too hard. To be completely honest, there's nobody even vaguely resembling a threat to the Norwegian's lead in this front group; Champoussin is the best-ranked on GC and he's well over 40 minutes down.
This break will probably be allowed to go all the way today.

144km to go – And all of a sudden the move goes

And it's quite a selection! They have over two minutes already.
Clément Champoussin, Nicolas Prodhomme (AG2R-Citroën), Jay Vine (Alpecin-Fnix), Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious), Dani Navarro (Burgos-BH), Aritz Bagües (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), Jens Keukeleire (EF Educaiton Nippo), Xabier Mikel Azparren (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Arnaud Démare, Kevin Geniets (Groupama-FDJ), Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers), Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Start-Up Nation), Matthew Holmes (Lotto Soudal), Andrey Zeits (Team BikeExchange), Romain Bardet (Team DSM), Dylan Sunderland (Team Qhubeka NextHash) and Ryan Gibbons (UAE Team Emirates).

El menu del dia...

This is what La Vuelta holds in store for us today and madre mia it's an appetising feast.
We're just hearing a break of 18 might have a small gap, with Tom Pidcock and Romain Bardet among the escapees.

160km to go – Flurries of attacks

And amid the high-paced battle to make the break, poor old Guillaume Martin has had a mechanical and been forced to chase back onto a stampeding bunch. Not the ideal start to a day where he could conceivably take the La Vuelta red jersey for the first time in his career, but better to have the glitch at the start of the day than the end I suppose!
No break has stuck yet, although a bunch of nine riders did get a little but of a margin a few minutes ago.

165km to go – A change of jersey?

We're off and running now, with no word yet on who has made the breakaway (or if there even is one at this point).
It feels like today we'll see a change in the race lead. No disrespect to Odd Christian Eiking, the maillot rojo when the race left the marvellously-named start town of Don Benito this morning, but it would take something truly extraordinary for him to still be in the lead come day's end. The Norwegian was done credibly on La Vuelta's climbs thus far, but you feel that if the top GC favourites really light things up he'll struggle to defend his lead.
Second place at the start of the day was Guillaume Martin, 58 seconds down on Eiking. On paper, Martin is a strong enough climber to take that from Eiking on a day like today – but cycling is a funny sport, and the power of a leader's jersey to help a rider find an extra 10% from somewhere deep down is well-known. And of course, Primoz Roglic currently sitting 1'56" down is capable of blowing absolutely everyone away and making up that whole two minute time gap – if he has the inclination.

Welcome to the La Vuelta Stage 14 live blog!

And after a transitional week that saw all sorts of finishes and varied stage winners, we are back on mountainous ground today with a parcours that will surely suit just one type of rider: the climber.
Whether we get a breakaway to contest the stage victory or the big dogs will scrap it out for themselves remains to be seen. The stage kicks off soon at 11:50am UK time, and we're expecting a fierce competition for the day's early move.

Stage 13 recap - Senechal the surprise winner on long, hot day

Florian Senechal was not the Deceuninck-Quickstep or even the Frenchman we expected to cross the line with his arms aloft at the end of the seemingly interminable Stage 13 of La Vuelta. The race’s penultimate flat finish was anything but a regular bunch sprint after Deceuninck’s dominance strung out the peloton and killed off all the competition in Villanueva de la Serena.
The Deceuninck train was so strong that even the team’s man in green, Fabio Jakobsen, struggled to keep up – as well as their principal rival on paper, the misfiring French sprinter Arnaud Demare of Groupama-FDJ. Jakobsen, the double stage winner from the Netherlands, almost closed the gap inside the final two kilometres but then pulled up after failing to make the connection.
Italy’s Matteo Trentin, the versatile UAE Team Emirates rider, looked to be the big favourite to pick up his first Vuelta stage win since bagging four in 2017. And when Germany’s Alexander Krieger opened up the sprint in the belief he was leading out Alpecin-Fenix teammate Sacha Modolo, it was Trentin and Senechal who reacted first on the home straight.
But it was the man with just two professional wins to his name who powered ahead, Senechal taking the win by a wheel after Trentin failed to close the gap. Italy’s Alberto Dainese (Team DSM) crossed the line two seconds down in third place before Slovenia’s Luka Mezgec (Team BikeExchange) and Belgium’s Stan Dewulf (AG2R-Citroen) completed the top five.
Read the full report here.
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