Vuelta a España (st. 15)
World Champion from Movistar Team only able to match Roglic’s (TJV) pace: puts 40″ on Pogacar (UAD), López (AST) after great support by Marc Soler from early break. Quintana stays in 5th place.
In jest they are now calling him ‘Grandpa’ at the media scrums at starts and finishes. And he’s still got a shot at winning another Grand Tour in the six stages remaining in the 2019 Vuelta a España. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) showed once again his perennial fighting spirit at the tough slopes of El Acebo, first of two mountain-top finishes in Asturias, to reinforce his position as 2nd overall and become more clearly the biggest alternative to race leader Primoz Roglic (TJV).
The Movistar Team worked hard into the first rated climb to shrink the peloton and put Marc Soler into the early break. Part of the winning move, 17 riders inside the group, the courageous Catalan saw Sepp Kuss (TJV) riding away into the slopes of the final ascent to take the victory. So, halfway through the Acebo, he switched his sights towards team duties and supported Valverde, who had attacked from near the bottom of the climb, with Roglic as only rival able to match him.
The two Blues and the Slovenian put 41″ on Tadej Pogacar (UAD) and Miguel Ángel López (AST) at the finish, which strengthens Valverde’s position as second overall (+2’25”), while Nairo Quintana, who remains in fifth -now more than 5′ behind Roglic-, struggled to keep the pursuit group’s pace and crossed the line almost one minute behind López and Pogacar. Monday, in a regional public holiday due to the Asturias day celebrated today, there will be another three tough ascents: San Lorenzo (Cat-1), Cobertoria (Cat-1) and the new La Cubilla (HC), with nearly 18km at 6% average.
Alejandro Valverde: “I had good legs, and so I tried to attack from almost the foot of the climb, to see what happened. Everyone pretty much struggled up here, as well the two of us in the lead as the ones in pursuit. Should I have gained no advantage with that attack, you could argue the move was nonsense, but 40″ is a nice gap. I worked well with Roglic, we went ahead and opened a good distance with the other GC contenders. Thanks to the team, for giving me a chance to be here again contesting the Vuelta, and thanks to Soler – such a nice job! We did what we had to do, battling hard from the beginning and sending Soler into the breakaway. Marc really tried, yet once he saw the stage victory was becoming hard for him, he stopped to help me out. As during the whole race, we continue to go day-by-day; we all have been suffering a lot in this Vuelta, but we’re happy to be in this second place so far. It will be more of the same tomorrow; a very demanding stage, as always here in Asturias. A Vuelta win for ‘Grandpa’? … Grandpa hasn’t said his final word!”
Marc Soler: “When Kuss rode away, I tried to follow his move but was impossible for me. The rivals into the second group continued to attack to follow him, and that pace I was able to match, but it was becoming harder and harder for me to aim at a stage win. The team asked me on my earpiece how I felt things could go – I told them I would do whatever they asked me for, I was honest because I didn’t think I could win it. Being able to contest the GC without the Calpe loss? Well, it’s all about circumstances, you never know. I lost time there, but I could have lost it anywhere. It’s all about a process. Keeping on learning and hopefully not losing time at all someday. We’ll keep on fighting, trying to give Alejandro more chances to improve his current position and finding some weakness in Roglic. Alejandro is doing really great – years don’t make him slower, he’s still in great form. We’re willing to do our best for him. We came here to win, and we’ll keep on trying.”
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto
- 01 Sepp Kuss Jumbo - Visma 4h19'04"
- 02 Ruben Guerreiro Katusha-Alpecin +39"
- 03 Tao Geoghegan Hart Team INEOS +40"
- 09 Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team +2'14"
- 13 Marc Soler Movistar Team +3'03"
- 17 Nairo Quintana Movistar Team +3'50"
- 52 José Joaquín Rojas Movistar Team +13'18"
- 53 Antonio Pedrero Movistar Team +13'20"
- 76 Nelson Oliveira Movistar Team +16'39"
- 77 Imanol Erviti Movistar Team "
- 97 Jorge Arcas Movistar Team +18'45"
- 01 Primoz Roglic Jumbo - Visma 58h10'32"
- 02 Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team +2'25"
- 03 Tadej Pogacar UAE Team Emirates +3'42"
- 05 Nairo Quintana Movistar Team +5'09"
- 15 Marc Soler Movistar Team +16'16"
- 40 José Joaquín Rojas Movistar Team +1h09'16"
- 50 Antonio Pedrero Movistar Team +1h29'21"
- 65 Nelson Oliveira Movistar Team +1h43'25"
- 89 Imanol Erviti Movistar Team +2h08'36"
- 95 Jorge Arcas Movistar Team +2h13'22"