Stage 14 of the 2019 Vuelta was without incident for 187 of its 188 kilometres. Then, a huge crash under the flamme rouge caused chaos. With only a handful of sprinters left, Tosh Van Der Sande of Lotto-Soudal tried to launch a long-range attack but Sam Bennett of Bora-hansgrohe easily caught and passed him to take the win.
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It’s one for the sprinters. And don’t those fast guys deserve a break? QuickStep’s Fabio Jakobsen’s stage 4 win in El Puig was so long ago it feels like it happened in a different era, never mind a different month. Since that tight photo finish, the sprinters have had to endure many filthy ramps and even a time trial. True fact: since the last sprint stage, the Vuelta has raced in three different countries.
So today the Vuelta finally laid down one for those mighty of fast-twitch muscle on mostly flat roads towards Oviedo. And it went to plan. The early break got caught, the sprint trains assembled and the best sprinter around won.
The only glitch was a massive crash under the 1km banner. It happened just behind the front of the peloton and took down around 20 riders with many more held up behind. Tosh Van Der Sande tried to seize the moment and shot off up the slightly inclining road. Max Richeze of Deceuninck Quick-Step set off after him but Sam Bennett was too powerful for them both. The Irish national champion lit it up, flew past them and had created so much of a gap he could ease off in the last 50 metres.
Behind, the crashed riders were picking themselves up off the ground, some more gingerly than others. Luka Mezgec of Mitchelton-Scott didn’t finish the stage, other riders are being assessed at the time of writing. Primoz Roglic, Alejandro Valverde and Tadej Pogacar were all affected by the crash but emerged unscathed.
Rider of the Race
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure anyone did anything exceptional today to deserve the accolade. So I’ll give two honourable mentions.
Firstly, Sam Bennett. He’s the form man of the moment and had such a lead over Richeze the photo-finish cameras were not troubled. It’s his second victory of the race and he’s notching up grand tour stage wins with ease right now.
The team put me in a fantastic place. We started slowing down as the road went up. A guy went fast off the front (Van Der Sande) and Richeze went with him. I was afraid of holding back too much so I went past him and the guy at the front.
With 300 metres to go, I thought i’d gone too early but I had enough power. However, I didn’t know if the breakaway was caught so I didn’t celebrate too hard.
Kudos also to Tosh Van Der Sande for having a damn good go in the last kilometre. He was never going to beat the sprinters in a straight competition so he stuck it all out there in an attempt to win. On another day it might have worked.
What else happened?
Not much. No dramas for the GC contenders until that crash. It was all tranquilo in the main. Still, it looked nice.
Well most of it looked nice
Back under the knife
Did Team Ineos break a mirror at some point this year? They’re having a rotten Vuelta and now Chris Froome is back in hospital …
Rumours in Spain suggest that super domestique Wout Poels will be withdrawn from the Vuelta to prepare meals for Froome from now until next year’s Tour de France.
The last word
Will that stronger rider be heading somewhere more wolfesque soon?
1 Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) 4:28:46
2 Max Richeze (Deceuninck Quick-Step) same time
3 Tosh Van Der Sande PI (Lotto-Soudal) +0:02
4 Marc Sarreau (Groupama-FDJ) +0:05
5 Clement Venrurini (AG2R) same time
1 Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 53:49:19
2 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +2:25
3 Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +3:01
4 Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) +3:18
5 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +5:21
6 Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) +6:15
7 Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) +7:18
8 Carl Fredrik Hagen (Lotto Soudal) +7:33
9 Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) +7:39
10 Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) +9:58
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey: Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma)
Points jersey: Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma)
Climber’s jersey: Angel Madrazo (Burgos-BH)
Young Rider’s jersey: Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates)
Header image: GETTY/Velo/Justin Setterfield