La Vuelta (st. 17)
Telefónica-backed squad joins early break towards La Covatilla with Arcas, Erviti and Oliveira; attacks with Soler near the end; and works hard to make up ground overall (Enric to end in 5th). Primoz Roglic (TJV) all but confirms overall victory.
/ Today’s route
The decisive stage of the 2020 La Vuelta. The Sierra de Béjar would be the venue for the mountain showdown in this year’s race, with six climbs scheduled on Saturday’s stage 17 towards La Covatilla (HC; 11.4km at 7.1%). No rest allowed on a day with no flat sections and two other main climbs: the Portillo de las Batuecas (Cat-1) and the Garganta (Cat-2).
/ Weather report
Two completely different scenarios during the stage: rain and fog at the start and the top of the main climbs, with 8-9ºC, and more open skies in the second half of the race, with double figure temperatures. Strong winds from the southwest.
/ Keys to the race
- Imanol Erviti, Jorge Arcas and Nelson Oliveira got themselves into an early break of 34 riders, with David de la Cruz (UAD), 9’ off race leader Roglic, as top rider overall in the group. Jumbo-Visma kept the leaders under tight vigilance, never allowing them a gap over 3’30”.
- Taking advantage from the group’s short advantage heading into the last three climbs, the Movistar Team started pulling hard with Verona, Rojas + Oliveira and Arcas, who left the break to support their team-mates. Their pace, despite some great rhythm by UAE and Groupama-GDJ at the front, reduced the gaps at the Garganta climb and kept the peloton under stress before that climb, with some splits briefly leaving Richard Carapaz (IGD) chasing behind.
- 30km before the end, as the break held a slim, 1’30” advantage over the peloton, Marc Soler launched an attack through the fog halfway through the Garganta ascent. Helped by Erviti, who was still part of the leading group, the Catalan got to the front at the foot of La Covatilla, with 19km remaining. However, a move by Mäder (NTT), Donovan (SUN) and Ion Izagirre (AST) from the breakaway split the group on the cobblestones prior to the climb, with Soler again having to come back from behind.
- David Gaudu (GFC), present in the early break, eventually took his second stage win, while the attacks between the main contenders unfolded in the last 4km, with Enric Mas as part of those moves. The big move, however, came with two kilometers left, with a solo attack by Carapaz which jeopardized Roglic’s overall success. However, the Ecuadorian’s advantage, around just twenty seconds, wasn’t enough, to change the GC result. Enric Mas sealed his 5th place, with Valverde in 10th – his twentieth Grand Tour top-ten finish.
/ La Vuelta overview – Enric Mas
“If you compare how we started the season with how we’re ending it, I think the overview as we close La Vuelta can only be good. The move Marc made at La Garganta was one for the stage, not really for me, because, even if I felt well, I didn’t have those fresh legs I usually bring into the third week of the Grand Tours; I might have felt the efforts from the Tour and this whole season. We feel happy about what we’ve done as a team, winning the team prize and stepping onto the podium in Madrid, even if not to the individual one as I was only able to get 5th place. We also got a stage with Marc, and all the grit and determination we showed over the three weeks – we can only feel happy about that. I always want more, and I’d have liked to be closer to the top and fight for a stage win, but it was a strange season, also a first year for me at this team, my ‘home’ team, and all this experience will surely make us stronger in the future.”
/ Upcoming goals
The 2020 season, at least the men’s UCI WorldTour schedule, comes to its end in the streets of Madrid on Sunday. 139km from the Hipódromo de la Zarzuela near the Spanish capital and around the cities that surround it before the final circuit. The seven laps won’t go through the Gran Vía this year, rather than taking two 180º turns at Castellana and Atocha to finish in Cibeles, next to the fountain and the iconic city council.
Cover picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport
- 01 David Gaudu Groupama-FDJ 4h54'32"
- 02 Gino Mäder NTT Pro Cycling Team +28"
- 03 Ion Izagirre Astana Pro Team +1'05"
- 11 Enric Mas Movistar Team +3'03"
- 12 Marc Soler Movistar Team +3'16"
- 15 Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team +3'45"
- 48 José Joaquín Rojas Movistar Team +16'22"
- 51 Imanol Erviti Movistar Team +16'25"
- 52 Carlos Verona Movistar Team "
- 55 Nelson Oliveira Movistar Team "
- 73 Jorge Arcas Movistar Team +26'28"
- 01 Primoz Roglic Jumbo - Visma 69h17'59"
- 02 Richard Carapaz Team INEOS +24"
- 03 Hugh Carthy EF Education First +47"
- 05 Enric Mas Movistar Team +3'36"
- 10 Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team +9'34"
- 18 Marc Soler Movistar Team +21'01"
- 30 Carlos Verona Movistar Team +1h12'46"
- 32 José Joaquín Rojas Movistar Team +1h22'46"
- 40 Nelson Oliveira Movistar Team +1h42'02"
- 48 Imanol Erviti Movistar Team +1h57'22"
- 78 Jorge Arcas Movistar Team +2h58'22"