Headwinds and high temperatures appear to have sucked the life out of the first three stages of the Vuelta. Would it spark into spiciness on today’s summit finish in Alfaguara? Yes, but only on the slopes of the final climb where there were two races for the line. Ben King won the stage from a long-range attack ahead of two of his eight former breakaway companions, Nikita Stalnov (Astana) and Pierre Rolland (EF All the Words), sprinting away in the final 150 metres from the former to record his maiden WoldTour victory. Behind, the GC was stirred rather than shaken with Michal Kwiatkowski just managing to hang onto the leader’s jersey.
Rider of the Race
You won’t be surprised to learn that today’s award goes to the stage winner, American Ben King, who recorded his maiden WorldTour victory and his first win since stage 2 of the 2016 Tour of California. In addition, it was his Dimension Data team’s first WorldTour victory of the season.
Post-race, the stage winner was typically emotional:
I set winning a Grand Tour stage as a goal for myself at the beginning of this year. It’s just something that I have to keep believing that I have the potential. It’s really affirming. Myself and my wife have sacrificed so much to make this happen.
It was a popular victory.
It’s good to know that nice guys do win!
It’s too early to win the Vuelta, but not too early to lose it. After today’s second of this week’s three climbs, there has been an early and inevitable stirring rather than shake-out. LottoNL-Jumbo’s efforts 10km from the summit forced a number of riders out the back, notably the still recovering Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), stage-hunter Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and crash-victim Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin). The JumboBees impulsion allowed Kwiatkowski to retain the race lead but it also acted as a launch pad for Messrs Yates and Buchman who both moved up the GC.Embed from Getty Images
1 Ben King (Dimension Data) 4:33:12
2 Nikita Stalnov (Astana) +0:02
3 Pierre Rolland (EF-Drapac) +0:13
4 Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis) +1:08
5 Ben Gastauer (Ag2r La Mondiale) +1:39
1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) 13:47:15
2. Emanuel Buchman (Bora-hansgrohe) +0:07
3. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) +0:10
4 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0.12
5 Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) +0.25
6 Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) +0.30
7 Tony Gallopin (Ag2r La Mondiale) +0.33
8 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +0.33
9 Steven Kruiswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) +0:37
10 Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) +0.42
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey: Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky)
Points jersey: Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky)
Climber’s jersey: Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis)
Combined jersey: Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky)
Team classification: Astana
Header: ©GETTY/AFP/Jorge Guerrero