After the high drama of the Angliru and yesterday’s time trial, the Vuelta’s stage 14 turned the excitement dial down a notch. The main break of the day stayed away to content the win with Tim Wellens of Lotto-Soudal pipping Michael Woods (EF) to the line and getting his second win of this Vuelta. QuickStep’s Zdenek Stybar rounded out the podium in Ourense. All the main GC contenders rolled in together nearly four minutes behind, meaning Primoz Roglic (Jumbo) easily holds on to the race lead.
The final KM
The stage might have been fairly straightforward but the final KM, with six strong riders going head-to-head, was pretty enthralling to watch.
How Wellens Won
It started with a break …
That break had a 5-minute advantage with 90 kilometres to go. There was some huffing and puffing in the peloton behind but suffice to say as they went under the flamme rouge, we had six riders in contention. It was Tim Wellens v Michael Woods v Marc Soler v Zdenek Stybar vs Dylan van Baarle (Ineos) v Thymen Arensman (Sunweb).
Wellens first hit the front with 500 metres to go but the strength of this group was obvious and they are all back together as they passed the 200 metres marker. At this point, Wellens kicks on again and only Michael Woods could grind up with him.
As it’s the Vuelta, nothing is straightforward and today’s finish line was just around a blind corner, cos Vuelta. Wellens had the inside line on that bend while Woods had to go round the long way. That difference was enough to give the Belgian his second stage win of this race.
Look how tight that last corner is!
What went on behind?
Well, with Quickstep, Ineos, EF and Movistar all having riders in the break, they weren’t going to bring it back. And with no riders in the break to threaten the GC top ten, no one else was much minded to do the work either – except for some.
First Astana hit the front in a sea of light blue.
When that did nothing to reel in the break, Total Direct Energie decided they could succeed where Astana had failed.
You know what? They got close. They had the gap down to less than two minutes at one point. You know what else? I loved these moves. They had hope, they had optimism and they had confidence.
Bits and bobs
Primoz Roglic notched up his 596th bike change of the Vuelta. That’s a new post-war record.
Trek are determined to finish the Vuelta as they finished the Giro. That is, with not very many riders left.
It was 25 years ago
The Vuelta last came to Ourense in 1995. When cycling looked a hell of a lot different!
There’s snow in the forecast atop Saturday’s summit. I believe there’s something in Roglic’s background that might make him feel right at home. That’s assuming it doesn’t get so bad that the race has to go for plan B.
Stage 14 Results
1 Tim Wellens (Lotto Soul) 4:37:05
2 Michael Woods (EF Pro Cycling) same time
3 Zdenek Stybar (QuickStep) s/t
4 Dyan Van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers) s/t
5 Marc Soler (Movistar) +0:11
GC Top 10
1 Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma) 53:57:05
2 Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) +0:39
3 Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) +0:47
4 Dan Martin (Israel Start Up) +1:42
5 Enric Mas (Movistar) + 3:23
6 Wout Poels (Bahrain McLaren) +6:15
7 Felix Grossschartner (BORA-hansgrohe) +7:14
8 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +8:39
9 Alexandr Vlasov (Astana) +8:48
10 David de la Cruz (UAE-Team Emirates) +9:23
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers)
Points jersey Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma)
King of the Mountains Guillaume Martin (Cofidis)
Best Young Rider Enric Mas (Movistar)
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Official race website: Vuelta a Espana