La Vuelta (st. 8)
Movistar Team shows again its collective power with fast-paced, 50km approach to decisive climb in La Rioja, finds hardest opposition in Roglic (TJV), Carapaz (IGD) and big favourites. Enric Mas takes 7th, remains in fifth overall.
/ Today’s route
La Vuelta visited the La Rioja region on Wednesday with stage eight, 164km from Logroño to the top of Moncalvillo (Cat-1), a climb new to La Vuelta yet already used at pro races in the 1990s, during the recently-defunct Vuelta a La Rioja. A really demanding test, almost 9km at 9.2% average, preceded, just over 40km before the end, by the Puerto de La Rasa (Cat-2).
/ Weather report
On paper, some light rain was expected in the early stages, yet it ended p being the most pleasant day so far in La Vuelta, with sunny skies, mild temperatures (10 to 15ºC) and some westerly winds (15 to 25kph).
/ Keys to the race
- After about 20km, a seven-man group got clear of the peloton with Costa (UAD), Cavagna (DQT), Stannard (MTS), Dewulf (LTS), Madrazo (BBH), Dyball (NTT) and Simon (TDE). They were allowed a five-minute maximum gap by the peloton, initially led by INEOS Grenadiers.
- At the La Rasa climb, the Movistar Team changed the pace and sent its whole roster at the front of the bunch, with Arcas, Verona and Erviti making a great job to catch García (CJR), who had counter-attacked in the approach to the Cat-2 ascent, and halve (2’30” at the top, 50km before the end) the margin of the seven escapees. At the descent and the final approach, Imanol, Oliveira and Rojas kept the pace high and reached the escapees down at the bottom of Moncalvillo (-8km).
- Verona’s pacing and an acceleration from Valverde into the early slopes were responded by Jumbo-Visma, whose leader Primoz Roglic was the strongest contender against Richard Carapaz (IGD) and took the day’s win to shrink the gap against ‘La Roja’. The leaders’ strong pace changes inside the last 2km made Enric Mas struggled. Following his own pace, the Spaniard finished in 7th place, 54″ down on the winner, to remain in 5th overall. Valverde, 1’39” back, now ranks 8th, with Soler, 2′ down today, in 9th place.
Enric Mas: “The team was once again excellent today, as they’ve been for the entire race since the start in Irún, but I’ve simply felt not as good as I expected to, and wasn’t able to keep up with the top contenders. I can only thank them, both the riders and staff, for their support and confidence, and start thinking about the upcoming opportunities as of right now, with the Asturias stages and the Ézaro ITT, three tough days where we will try to be up there again. I’m getting distanced from the La Vuelta podium, but I know this team will continue to do their utmost and hopefully make the fans enjoy in the second half of this race.”
/ Upcoming goals
Thursday’s stage nine should bring the second bunch sprint chance of this year’s race, back in Castilla y León for a 158km route with no categorized climbs between the Cid Campeador military base, in Burgos’ Castrillo del Val, and Aguilar de Campoo, near the Palencia mountains.
Cover picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport