Steve Cummings (BMC) time-trialled to victory after leaving behind his breakaway companions and managing to stay ahead of the pursuing Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky). It was Cummings’ first win since he joined BMC - and the team’s second of the Vuelta - and his first win since early 2011. As I’m always saying, persistence pays dividends. Cummings tried to get into yesterday’s breakaway, failed and came back today with more success. After the stage, he commented:
It was very hard, just full gas the whole way, and the entire day was very tough because of the wind. For me to win, I have to win alone because there were fast guys in the group, so I was looking for the best moment. When I was clear I had to just keep going as hard as possible. It is my best victory, for sure.
It took a while for the break to form - around 40km – and comprised Cummings, Meyer, Flecha, Linus Gerdemann (RadioShack-Nissan), stage four winner Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE), Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM), and Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale). They gained around four minutes’ advantage with Argos-Shimano controlling the break. Bereft of much support from other teams, apart from Lotto-Belisol, they wore themselves out with 10km to go.
With the gap hovering around the minute mark, teams started attacking from the peloton which rather played into the hands of those in the break as the peloton focussed on snuffing out the most visible threats. By this time four-time winner John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) was on his lonesome. Finally, the trio of Andrey Kashechkin (Astana), Dani Moreno (Katusha), and Gert Steegmans (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) managed to slip away to form another escape group. With under 5km left, the trio were 30 seconds behind the seven-man initial break but just ten seconds ahead of the chasing peloton. They were eventually reabsorbed.
Flecha was the first to attack in the final kilometres, Cummings bridged and subsequently so did everyone else save the fastest sprinter, Viviani. Cummings then made the decisive move just inside 4km, the others hesitated and then Meyer took up the chase with Flecha on his wheel. To no avail – Cummings sailed over the finish line, arms aloft.
VeloVoices rider of the day
Here at VeloVoices we love it when a breakaway succeeds. It warms the cockles of our hearts. So our rider has to be today’s winner Steve Cummings, who left what many might regard as a sinecure at Sky to try something different at BMC. Like many of his teammates, the first half of his season was ruined by injury but he’s bounced back to record his first win for his new team in his maiden Vuelta showing he’s lost none of his team-pursuiting skills. Here’s what he had to say in the post-stage press conference:
Today’s stage started in the Unesco World Heritage site and Galician capital of Santiago de Compostela, allegedly the resting place of St James, one of the twelve Apostles. I’m wondering whether any of the teams made a quick pilgrimage to the Cathedral and lit a few candles to aid their Vuelta campaign.
There were no changes in any of the jerseys or the general classification. This was a stage shaped as much by the three which follow it as by its own parcours – a day for the contenders to rest up in the peloton and gather their forces. Argos-Shimano and John Degenkolb will have been unhappy at losing a sprint opportunity but everyone loves a winner from a breakaway.
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