Stage 17 was the first of a pair of HC summit finishes in this final week of Vuelta 2021 and it absolutely was *not* a day the break was going to take the stage. Except that, as usual, the Vuelta turned the tables on us. Because someone from a break *did* win the stage and even went into the red jersey. Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) attacked out of the GC group on the ascent of the penultimate climb, with only Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma) for company about 60km from the finish, and rode off in seek of glory. But no matter how much it rained (and it poured), how much Bernal tested Roglic on the long, treacherous descent (and he did and it was), or how much he must have been willing himself to stay in front of the Slovenian powerhouse, when the elastic snapped about 8km from the summit of the Covadonga, it was Bernal on the wrong end.
As the Vuelta a Espana headed into its third and final week, Stage 16 was seen as one of the final opportunities for the sprinters and their teams. With Alpecin’s Jasper Philipsen leaving the race last week, the out-and-out favourite for today’s stage was current green jersey wearer, Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep). However, with over 1,200 metres of climbing and some wind in play on parts of the route, other teams (well, UAE Team Emirates) put Jakobsen and The Wolfpack to the test. A ferociously fast stage did see Jakobsen distanced at one point, however some solid teamwork saw the man in green make it back to the bunch way before the finale, where, as predicted, he blew his competition away to take a powerful victory. Jordi Meeus (Bora-hansgrohe) and Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates) rounded out the podium, with Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarche-Wanty) remaining in red for another day. Continue reading