Vuelta a España (st. 13)
Whole peloton finishes almost 34 minutes behind twelve-man breakaway in Urdax, prelude to a big Pyrenees day towards Gourette / Aubisque
That calm day the Vuelta a España convoy asked so hard for ended up coming into the longest stage in this year's race. The 213km journey between Bilbao and Urdax were reduced to the fight between the 12 early escapees; Italian Valerio Conti (LAM) took to fruition a move into the rolling final circuit. Behind, the Alejandro Valverde-led bunch came home at a whooping 33 minutes and 54 seconds.
All GC gaps remain the same -Nairo Quintana stays in the lead, with Chris Froome (SKY) in second spot at 54” and Valverde in third, at 1'05"- before the Queen stage in this year's Vuelta, with the finish atop Aubisque / Gourette (HC) after 196km including the Cat-1 ascents of Inharpu, Soudet and Marie-Blanque. A day where, as expected by Jonathan Castroviejo, “we'll try to keep Nairo safe and, as with other GTs I've ridden with him, we hope him to show he builds up his form through the race and feels stronger."
"It might probably be the most important stage in this Vuelta tomorrow," nodded Nairo at the mixed zone. "Many difficult climbs, a steep finish – let's just hope we can be on par with our rivals and maybe take some more seconds. Let's keep watching how our rivals react to plan on a useful strategy."
“The break wasn’t any dangerous for the GC, and there wasn’t any need to go fast,” explained Valverde after the stage. “However, the day wasn’t easy either: more than six hours on the bike, 3,100m of elevation gain… and that, with a stage like Saturday’s ahead. It will be decisive for the GC result, one to keep full focus for the whole route and a day where we will try to increase our chances to win this.”