Vuelta a Espana 2021 : Stage 13 – Senechal saves the day for Quick Step

Stage 13, the longest of this year’s Vuelta, came down to a messy, chaotic sprint and a beautiful win by Deceuninck QuickStep’s Florian Senechal. The Frenchman gave it everything to deny Matteo Trentin (UAE-Team Emirates) after teammate, and red hot favourite for victory, Fabio Jakobsen found himself out of position on the run to the line. The red jersey stays on the shoulders of Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) and everyone else remains as they were on the GC, prior to the climbing action this weekend.

203.7km through the searing heat of the Extremadura, on a day destined for a sprint finish, was never going to produce the most exciting day of racing. That’s okay, sometimes grand tour stages are like that.

We did get some echelon excitement – but it was nothing but a brief frisson. Gone again before cycling fans could properly awaken from our afternoon naps.

It was an afternoon to applaud the poor souls in the break

Admire the castles and speculate on the finish and the stages that lay ahead.

The finale was littered with roundabouts, six of them in the last 2km. Honestly I got dizzy just watching the peloton switching left and right and trying to keep at the front as the road narrowed and widened.

The Quicksteppers took it up in the final 5km. It looked like the textbook train they so often produce

Hitting the front and keeping the pace so high they dropped most of Jakobsen’s sprint rivals – perfect! Unfortunately their own man became unhitched from the train and we watched aghast as he struggled away behind them!

With 1.4km to go, Fabio sat up and radioed for his team to sprint without him.

There’s no team better at swift pivot to plan B and the QuickStep train kept the pace high for Senechel. He launched his sprint with 120m to go, and it was a drag race to the line as Trentin pulled alongside but just could not get around him.

From a perfect plan A – to near disaster – to victory – all within 5km. Name me another team!!

You have to feel for Matteo Trentin. He must be asking himself what on earth does he have to do to win a race – so many times the bridesmaid at this Vuelta.

Oh Florian!

This Vuelta victory is his third professional win, a trio that includes Le Samyn, that most gruelling of spring races. He’s a mainstay in the QuickStep sprint train and classics squad and I just LOVED how overwhelmed he was with his first grand tour stage victory. I’m going to put the whole quote because it makes me smile

We did a perfect lead-out for Fabio [Jakobsen], and he said on the radio: ‘Florian, you can sprint!’ So we waited. Bert van Lerberghe did a superb job, I stayed calm and I gave the maximum in the last 200m. I think Fabio had a flat tyre. I don’t realise yet that I’ve won a grand tour stage. It’s crazy. At first, I thought Démare was gonna pass me, or Matthews, I don’t know… But nobody did. I don’t know to thank my teammates. They did a crazy job to put me in the perfect position. A thousand thanks. I am lucky today and I’m very happy for my family, my friends and my wife. It’s a good present.

A Vuelta stage winner and a good human.

The unhitched train

It wasn’t clear at the time what happened to Fabio Jakobsen on the run to the line. He was certainly struggling to close the gap when his teammates put their lead-out plan into operation, before he sat up and gave the message for Senechal to sprint. Post-stage he clarified he didn’t have the legs after the chase, and in this little clip he explains he did try to tell them to wait up (skip to 1:07)

Sometimes these things happen, even in a setup as smooth and slick as the Wolfpack. The Dutchman increased his grip on the green jersey by claiming the intermediate sprint. Can he keep it to stage 21? It’s going to be challenge, particularly as he is heading into unchartered ‘third week’ territory after his accident. Fingers crossed the team can keep him safe in the mountains.

The final word

All the results

Stage results 

1 Florian Senechal (Deceuninck-Quick Step) 4:58:23

2 Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates) same time

3 Alberto Dainese (Team DSM) +0:02

4 Luka Mezgec (Bike Exchange) +0:03

5 Stan Dewulf (AG2R Citroen) same time

GC Top 10 

1 Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) 50:31:52

2 Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +0:58

3 Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +1:56

4 Enric Mas (Movistar Team) +2:31

5 Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar Team) +3:28

6 Jack Haig (Bahrain-Victorious) +3:55

7 Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) +4:41

8 Adam Yates (INEOS Grenadiers) +4:57

9 Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) +5:03

10 Felix Grossschartner (BORA-hansgrohe) +5:38

All the jerseys

Leader’s jersey : Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux)

Points jersey : Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick Step)

King of the Mountains: Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Victorious)

Best young rider : Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers)

Best team : INEOS Grenadiers

For full race results, go to CyclingNews

Official Vuelta website is here 

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