Mathias Frank scored his first ever Grand Tour win on a summit finish making it’s debut in a race parcours. The Swiss rider paced his ascent of the brutal ramps with metronomic precision, keeping ahead of Sky’s Leopold Konig to take IAM’s second win of the Vuelta. Conquerer of the Aubisque, Robert Gesink, rode inelegantly but oh-so-effectively to third. That’s a complete set of podium steps for the resurgent Dutch rider! If the breakaway fought for stage honours, it was a case of ‘steady as she goes‘ for the top four on GC. Esteban Chaves, Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana attacked in the last kilometres, but they could neither distance each other or Chris Froome.
Rider of the race
There is no stopping those crazy IAM cats from winning, and we have no hesitation in awarding Mathias Frank the prize today. For his grinta on the breakaway when he struck out with Astana’s Dario Cataldo with 30km to go, and dropping him 2km from the summit. For his panache is riding past the ‘Gateway to hell ‘ sign as he started the ascent of the fearsome Mas de la Costa. For the look of joyous disbelief on his face as he sailed (well struggled) across the finish line. Finally for handling the podium prize with such aplomb. [what is that thing?] When asked about the new climb he replied that it was super hard and that the people at the side of the road were walking faster than he was. We can elieve it, it was quite extraordinary, in a race packed with walls.
He’s such a solid, classy GC rider. Podium at Tour de Suisse and Criterium de Dauphine in 2014, 7th and the Tour de France last year. But this year he has struggled to put it all together – until the Vuelta that is. He’s been in the breaks, riding into top tens, and today he claimed the top spot – his first in two years.
I came here and I told myself I want to have fun, get a good feeling back. To finally have a victory after more than two years, winning a Grand Tour stage, it’s just amazing.
As the leading GC riders hit the steepest ramps on the last climb, fans held their breath as surely, SURELY someone would attack. We didn’t have to wait long. Smiling Esteban accelerated, Don Nairo surged and Baby Blackbird danced on the pedals. Time after time the trio distanced Chris Froome, and time after time he got back. If the stage winner paced to perfection, the Sky leader is a maestro at the art. The ability to let your rivals ride away from you, stay out of the red, and just reel them back appears to take mental strength as well as spin speed legs. Here’s what he said post race…
I think a lot of people do get disheartened in that sort of position, maybe that is a strength I do have, I try to keep motivated and try to keep pacing myself.
Three things that made us smile
We love a Marshall Kappel photo, and the caption on this is brilliant
It wasn’t just the pro’s that raced the new climb, everyone got a go. #Chapeau to this youngster
Plan hatching? we’ll have to wait and see.
Questions on Eurosport. Juan Antonio is going for a breakaway
1 Mathias Frank (IAM) 4:34:38
2 Leopold Konig (SKY) +0:06
3 Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) +0:11
4 Pello Bilbao (Caja-Rural) +0:14
5 Dario Cataldo (Astana) +0:16
1 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 69:35:32
2 Chris Froome (SKY) +3:37
3 Esteban Chaves (ORICA-BikeExchange) +3:57
4 Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) +4:02
5 Simon Yates (ORICA-BikeExchange) +6:03
Points leader: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
King of the Mountains leader: Kenny Elissonde (FDJ)
Combined classification leader: Nairo Quintana (Movistar)
Team classification leader: BMC
Stage’s Most Combative: Jamie Roson (Caja-Rural)
For full stage review: Cycling News
Header image :Photo by Tim de Waele/Tim De Waele/Corbis via Getty Images