Following the Vuelta’s second rest day Tuesday witnessed a stage of 2 parts: 115km of flat and winding road, followed by 5 km of ascent.
An early breakaway was never allowed a big lead and was reeled in just before the climb started.
Our riders were well-placed by the time they reached the foot of the finale, but it was Jonas Vingegaard (TJV) who attacked with 4km to go. Finn Fisher-Black (UAE Emirates) was first to react, but wasn’t able to challenge the Dane. Behind, Poels attacked with Michael Storer (GFC) and was able to pass him in the final 200m to clinch 3rd place. On top of that performance, Bahrain had 4 more riders in the top 20, and Mikel Landa kept his 7th place in GC.
Neil Stephens, our lead Sports Director commented: “Today was a very complicated stage right from the start. We always knew that the day after the rest day can be very difficult, and with all the attacks going right from the start we tried to conserve energy and only follow important attacks. Given that, the riders placed our leaders at the foot of the climb in a good position. After Vingegaard’s attack, we instructed Mikel Landa to try to get the stage victory as well as to fight for the GC. So we ended up with 2 races within the final kilometres, and the priority was to win the stage with Wout Poels. That wasn’t to be but 3rd place is really a very good effort, and I’m very happy with that. Considering the GC, everyone is trying to move up, but we decided to conserve energy and just focus on Mikel and see what he could do, maintain where we were, and keep on fighting another day. We are happy that GC stayed exactly as it was, while Santiago moved one place. We had a lot of our riders in the front and it shows our strengths coming into the last week, and coming into the mountains. So we are really looking forward to the next two days of extremely difficult racing. We think we’ll be one of the strongest teams in the next two days, and we hope that the results will reflect that.”
For his part, Poels was brief but satisfied: “It was a nice climb, I felt really good at the end. It was nice to do my race, Mikel and Santi were in a good position, so I could go for a nice result, and I think it was a good performance.”
Tomorrow’s Alto de l’Angliru’s summit finish will see a great GC battle as we edge ever closer to Madrid.