As the Vuelta a Espana headed into the mountains before Monday’s rest day, Stage 14 proved to be one of the dullest days of mountain racing that I have witnessed in some time. Starting with 75km to go, I found myself pondering why I’d agreed to watch this Vuelta again. Eventually, Romain ‘Bedhead’ Bardet reminded why we all turn on the telly and watch these men pedal their cranks. Positioning himself for success in the day’s breakaway, the Team (B)DSM rider kept his powder dry until the final climb, spanking the bibs off of all others with an attack with 6km to go. Left in his wake of dominance, Jesus Herrada of the submissive Cofidis Team, finished second on the day. The cruelty of Herrada is nothing to be forgotten as he rudely outsprinted Alpecin’s Jay Vine, who had bravely recovered after crashing into a team car.
The first mountain top finish of this year’s spicy Vuelta a Espana! Surely it would deliver us eye-watering fireworks packed with excitement and good racing and whet our appetites for the upcoming two and a half weeks of racing. Right?! Wrong! With Primoz Roglic and his Jumbo Bees largely disinterested in defending the leader’s jersey so early, the gap to the breakaway was allowed to swell tremendously, all but ensuring victory. After a slow-moving day, Estonian time trial champion Rein Taaramäe reigned victorious for Intermache-Wanty atop Picon Blanco. American superstar Joe Dombrowski came home second whilst “King Kenny” Elissonde rounded out the stage podium.
What stage is it today? I have lost count, truthfully. [It’s Stage 16 of Tour de France 2021 – ed] I suppose it doesn’t even really matter given the boringness of today’s stage. Heck, the jackhammering that went on outside my window for three hours this morning brought more excitement and change of pace to my day than the race on my television screen did. The stage saw a less than invigorated breakaway performance, a peloton full of GC favorites content on riding for the podium, and plenty of rain. At the end of it all, Bora’s Patrick Konrad soloed away from his companions to claim his first World Tour victory and saved Bora’s otherwise disastrous Tour. In a turn of events that continues to make me scratch my head, Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious) came home second on the stage with a not-so-shiny Michael Matthews (BikeExchange) in third.