When the pundits picked their favourite to win the last Monument of the year, the choices were names like Egan Bernal, Primoz Roglic, perhaps Jakob Fuglsang or finally Alejandro Valverde. But no one picked – or even probably thought about – the Il Lombardia 2019 champion. The Trek-Segafredo team were active throughout the race, from Tom Skujins in the break of the day to Giulio Ciccone punching up the climbs, but one wouldn’t have expected an attack by Bauke Mollema on the Civiglio to stick. But stick it did, winning the Dutch rider his first Monument and Trek’s second big win in the past few weeks. Valverde and Bernal were 16sec off the pace to take second and third respectively.
Today’s stage 9 to La Covatilla’s summit was supposed to be on the upper Scoville scale for heat and spiciness but high temperatures and long transfers initially seemed to have sucked the life out of the peloton. Thankfully it sparked into life en route to the final climb with a race for the line and another for GC. Ben King (Dimension Data) took his second Vuelta stage, on yet another summit, from another long-range attack, dropping his breakmates 20km from the line and, despite being in the pain cave, magnificently hanging on to solo across the line ahead of Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Dylan Teuns (BMC). As anticipated, the GC was shaken and stirred with Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) seizing the lead by a single solitary second from the evergreen Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) with his teammate Nairo Quintana 14 seconds back in third.
There was a constellation of stars taking part in the 38th edition of La Clasica San Sebastian which is generally won by a rider exiting the Tour de France in particularly fine fettle. This year was no exception. Bauke Mollema countered an attack just before the summit of the final climb, Julian Alaphilippe followed and thereafter two descended like stones to contend the sprint for the line. Alaphilippe lead it out but Molema didn’t have the same turn of speed as the Frenchman. The podium was rounded out by Antony Roux, best of the rest, in his tricolour jersey.