La Vuelta (st. 12)
Spaniard from Movistar Team still 5th overall after paying back Blues’ hard work with excellent performance at legendary Asturian climb.
/ Today’s route
The most anticipated stage in La Vuelta for most fans and the press. L’Angliru (HC; 12.4km at 9.9%; maximum gradients of 23.5%) was the decisive point of a short, yet brutal 109km stage 12 from Pola de Laviana, with four other categorized climbs: Padrún (Cat-3), San Emiliano (Cat-3), Mozqueta (Cat-1) and Cordal (Cat-1). A key stage for the GC result.
/ Weather report
It had long been feared that this stage could have been ruined by bad weather, and fortunately, it was the other way around: a splendid day. Temperatures ranging from 16 to 22ºC, with more clouds in the early part of the stage and, for the first time in La Vuelta, some rays between those clouds at L’Angliru, often climbed through the fog. We’ll surely miss this weather, as conditions are expected to be really difficult during the final week…
/ Keys to the race
- Taking advantage from the slight descent into Olloniego to start the initial climb of Padrún (Cat-1), Imanol Erviti got himself into a 20-man early breakaway which covered the first two ascents -Padrún and San Emiliano (3ª)- together, with an advantage that rose to three minutes over the main peloton at the foot of Mozqueta (Cat-1), 55km before the end.
- At that climb, however, the Movistar Team picked up the pace with Arcas, Oliveira, Verona and Rojas, shrinking the gap to just 1’20” over the top. Erviti let the break go and led the Blues out into a moist descent, which kept their rivals under pressure. Oliveira and Verona kept the front of the main group through to the Cordal, where Marc Soler lost contact, paying his efforts from yesterday’s break and seeing his GC chances finished.
- As Valverde -who remains in 8th overall- was distanced in the beginning of L’Angliru’s hardest slopes, the GC group, led by Jumbo-Visma, only split with a strong attack from Enric Mas, the most courageous rider within the main favourites, with 3.5km to go. The Spaniard, who got through the toughest slope of La Cueña les Cabres in first, even dreamt of a stage win which only a stellar Hugh Carthy (EF1) was able to neglect him, winning ahead of Vlasov (AST, 2nd) and Mas, still fifth overall – just over 1′ behind the podium.
Enric Mas: “I want to apologize to the Spanish fans, the Movistar Team fans and the squad for not being able to win. The team was sensational again, but I didn’t have that final punch of energy to go for an extra attack in the end. I’m happy with how we did all over the entire stage, but I’m not satisfied with the result, because we were aiming at the victory, we were so motivated – both myself and the team – and I knew that I was doing well and I could go for the win in such a difficult stage. I haven’t been able to bring them a victory, but it’s still one week left in La Vuelta to make all of them happy. A rest day tomorrow – we hope to get as much sleep as possible, though we have a long transfer back to the hotel in Galicia. We’ll check the TT course on Monday and try to make the most of that recon to do our best and keep fighting for this Vuelta. Both the long flat section and the Ézaro climb could create some significant gaps.”
/ Upcoming goals
La Vuelta’s convoy is travelling to Galicia this very Sunday to enjoy its second, final rest day. Tuesday will bring another much anticipated stage, the only ITT in this year’s route. It will be a 33.7km course from Muros to the steep Mirador de Ézaro, 1.8km at nearly 15%, which will probably require a bike change. Such a circumstance has been planned by the organisers, which will be setting up an easy to carry it out.
— TT start times (Tuesday 3rd Nov): Arcas 14.52, Erviti 15.23, Oliveira 15.32, Rojas 15.43, Verona 15.50, Soler 16.00, Valverde 16.22, Mas 16.28
Cover picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport