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.
In today’s 37th Clasica San Sebastian, Michal Kwiatkowski was part of a five-man group, four of whom had ridden the Tour de France, which had attacked from the reduced peloton on the ascent of the fearsome Murgil, the day’s last climb, before swooping back into town to contest the sprint for the line. Won with ease by the Polish rider ahead of former race winners, Tony Gallopin (2013) and defending champion Bauke Mollema, who rounded out the podium. This victory takes Kwiatkowski into second place in the WorldTour rankings and he becomes only the second rider ever to win Milan-San Remo and the Clasica in the same season. Post-race Kwiatko paid tribute to the work done by his team, particularly the crucial role of Basque rider Mikel Landa.