The Vuelta that keeps on giving us first time winners delivered another today. Jens Keukeleire (Orica-BikeExchange) started his sprint early and powered all the way to the line. Maxime Bouet (Etixx-Quick Step) and a disappointed Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) were left on his wake to fill second and third on the podium. There was no change on GC: Nairo Quintana (Movistar) remains in the lead.
Rider of the race
No surprises today, I am going straight down the middle and pick the lovely Jens Keukeleire. This hard working Belgian domestique rides his socks off for his Orica-Bike Exchange team and very rarely gets the opportunity to ride for his own chance. Today all that changed. Jens has been going well these past few stages and the team decided this morning that they would ride for him if they could.
The tough climbing on the finishing circuits was hard but he hung on with a tenacious grip. As with so many of OBE’s wins, this as a real team effort. When the late solo attack from IAM’s Dries Devenyns was reeled in, Simon Yates covered the late attacks and Damien Howson delivered Jens in a great position. You know you’ve had a good day in the office when the Paris Roubaix winner tweets his congratulations.
Jens has only very recently become a father, and fate must have been smiling because the family were at the finish line today…
The first thing I thought about (after crossing the line) was my girlfriend and my son who are here today. It has only been a month since I became a father for the first time and they’ve been here the last couple of days, so to get my first Grand Tour win in front of them is amazing.”
He went on to say…
I am really happy that the team gives me this opportunity because understandably when you have guys in good positions on the general classification it’s not easy to give everyone a chance and I’m very grateful.
This quote from DS Neil Stephens brought a little tear…
I think Jens felt honoured that his teammates recognised the fact that he was going well and the stage suited him and the victory is maybe a way to repay that confidence. Everyone felt a special feeling with the result today, every win is special but this one even more so.
We CAN NOT WAIT for the Backstage Pass episode tomorrow and no doubt more hankies will be required.
We like to keep track of our favourite riders and there was much cheering at VeloVoices Towers when FDJ announced Kenny Elissonde had made it into the break of the day.
As is his wont, he was feisty and attacked hard on the climbs taking KOM points. The break worked hard, but with riders such as Quickstepper Gianluca Brambilla and Peter Kennaugh (Sky) in their midst, they were not given an inch. Better luck next time Kenny Allez Allez!!
One from the back
LOVE this Karen Edwards image of Juan Antonio Flecha and Ashley House.
1 Jens Keukeleire (Orica-BikeExchange) 3:44:47
2 Maxime Bouet (Etixx-Quick Step) same time
3 Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) s/t
4 Kristian Sbaragli (Dimension-Data) s/t
5 Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) s/t
1 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 46:53:31
2 Chris Froome(SKY) +0:54
3 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +1:05
4 Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) +2:34
5 Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) +3:08
Points leader: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
King of the Mountains leader: Nairo Quintana (Movistar)
Combined classification leader: Nairo Quintana (Movistar)
Team classification leader: Movistar
Stage’s Most Combative: David Lopez (SKY)
For full stage review: Cycling News
Header image: Jens Keukeleire Photo by KT/Tim De Waele/Corbis via Getty Images