Stage 13: Valls to Castelldefels, 169km
It was a glorious day for Argos-Shimano neo-pro Warren Barguil, who took his first professional victory and immediately asserted himself as the new darling of French cycling. He escaped from a strong ten-man breakaway to take a solo victory, while Vincenzo Nibali held on to the leader’s jersey.
The ten-man break from which Barguil emerged to take victory was the remnants of a huge group that escaped around halfway into the stage, but which was shredded on the painful first category Alto del Rat Penat climb. Though ten strong riders were left over – including Bauke Mollema (Belkin) and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) – they were all far enough back on GC for the peloton to let them stay to the finish.
FDJ led an initial chase on the descent from the Alto del Rat Penat, though their chase disintegrated with 15km to go. From then, it was clear the winner would emerge from the lead ten. Sadly, inside the final 10km that ten became nine after Movistar’s Benat Intxausti crashed on a short, unlit tunnel which would later put the peloton into difficulty. The Spaniard remounted quickly, though was out of the running for the win.
His task was made impossible by the immediate attacks off the front of the breakaway, with Jerome Coppel (Cofidis) and Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) managing to open up a gap before being joined by Scarponi. However, the lead trio couldn’t make their advantage stick, and the breakaway came back together in a disorganised rabble with a kilometre to go.
Then, taking advantage of the chaos was Barguil, who made an excellent attack under the flamme rouge. The other riders hesitated, not wanting to waste their energy chasing. However, they paid the price for deliberating, with the 21-year-old Frenchman holding off Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Mollema to take victory by seven seconds. The peloton finished just short of three minutes behind, with no major GC movement.
VeloVoices rider of the day
While Barguil’s performance was hugely impressive, I’m giving today’s prestigious rider of the day award to Benat Intxausti. The Spaniard – who rode an incredible Giro d’Italia – has struggled at his home race so far, though he managed to get into the day’s break, in what was almost certainly a tribute to his former teammate Xavier Tondo.
Intxausti was with Tondo at the time of his fatal freak accident in 2011 and, with today’s stage starting in Tondo’s home town, it was a great opportunity for Intxausti to ride in homage to his friend. A crash ruined his chances of victory, but certainly didn’t tarnish his touching tribute.
Analysis & opinion
Today’s stage saw no change in the top ten on GC. That was no great surprise, as the teams of the GC contenders chose not to expend any more energy than necessary ahead of the forthcoming Pyrenean triple-header. As Kitty highlighted in her stage preview, this was always going to be a day where a break had a higher-than-usual chance of success – and the fact that such a large group of, initially, 18 riders was allowed to form was essentially a tacit nod of approval from the peloton to that effect.
Nonetheless Warren Barguil certainly deserves much credit for his victory. Impressively, he is the third grand tour debutant to win a stage at this race, after Michael Matthews on stage five and Leopold Konig on stage eight – and, at only 21, he’s the youngest of the trio. The French have a habit of piling way too much expectation on their young riders, though Barguil looks seriously impressive – already having two top-tens in Vuelta stages prior to today. He’s definitely one to watch. (For more background on Barguil, read Tim’s profile here.)
Stage 13 result
1. Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano) 4:00:13
2. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r La Mondiale) +0:07
3. Bauke Mollema (Belkin) same time
4. Ivan Santaromita (BMC) s/t
5. Xabier Zandio (Sky) s/t
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 49:29:02
2. Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) +0:31
3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:46
4. Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) same time
5. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) +2:33
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) +2:44
7. Ivan Basso (Cannondale) +2:52
8. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) +3:35
9. Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff) +3:46
10. Daniel Moreno (Katusha) +3:56
Points classification: Daniel Moreno (Katusha).
Mountains classification: Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard).
Combination classification: Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff).
Team classification: Astana.
Link: Official website