Five talking points from stage 13 of the Vuelta a España 2021
Jakobsen blowing up proved no matter for Deceuninck - Quick-Step
1. Fabio Jakobsen misses the Deceuninck - Quick-Step steam train to the finish line...
Into the final kilometres, the astutely-placed roundabout at 3km to go safely navigated, the bunch started blowing to bits in the wind, Deceuninck - Quick-Step driving a pace so fast that it looked like their green jersey Fabio Jakobsen couldn't keep up.
Panning down the line of riders from the mass of blue on the front, eventually the Dutchman could be spotted, who then began trying to force his way back up before the pace became too much and he blew, shaking his head as the Deceuninck - Quick-Step train trundled on towards the finish line.
Having taken the intermediate sprint in the closing kilometres, Jakobsen still managed to extend his lead in the points classification, but the stage win was out of his grasp. It was left to the Deceuninck - Quick-Step lead-out sans sprinter, Alpecin-Fenix, and an ominously-lurking Matteo Trentin...
2. ...but no matter, up steps Florian Sénéchal
...And if it had been any other team in this situation, it would have been a disaster, but Deceuninck - Quick-Step is no ordinary team.
It looked as if things were set up for Matteo Trentin to quickly take redemption after his fourth-place on stage 12 as he sat behind Alpecin-Fenix's Sacha Modolo, biding his time, and soon it was just between him and Florian Sénéchal for the stage 13 victory.
Unfortunately for the Italian, it was the Frenchman who won the stage in place of Jakobsen, a rare opportunity for the 28-year-old who's taken only two other victories in his career.
That's now three Vuelta stages for the Belgian team, who also took five at the Tour de France. Although their stage haul stopped at stage 13 at the French Grand Tour it would be unwise to bet against them taking more over the remainder of the racing in Spain.
3. Arnaud Démare is nowhere to be seen
With Jasper Philipsen departed from the race, it was thought the responsibility of providing competition in the sprint finishes would be left to the likes of French sprinter Arnaud Démare, the Frenchman desperate for a win this Vuelta.
He didn't seem too stressed speaking after stage 12, saying he still had stages to take a victory, but with stage 13 come and gone and the Groupama-FDJ rider nowhere near the business end in the final kilometres.
It had looked as if Démare was on an upward tick after dominating the 2020 Giro d'Italia but after a number of victories at smaller races in 2021, not delivering at the Vuelta is unlikely to persuade team selectors to take him back to the Tour de France anytime soon. If he is to prove himself, the number of opportunities left for the sprinters this race is vanishing fast.
4. Sponsors of Spanish ProTeams are certainly getting their money's worth
For the fourth stage this Vuelta, the three Spanish ProTeams - Burgos-BH, Euskaltel-Euskadi and Caja Rural - Seguros RGA were the only three teams present in the breakaway, and it could have been five this race had Caja Rural managed to make it into the day's move on stage four, their vacant space taken up by another Burgos-BH rider with a habit for self-flagellation.
Diego Rubio, Luis Ángel Maté and Álvaro Cuadros were the chosen ones today, attacking from the off and staying off the front over the next 170km.
It's getting to the point where when you tune into the Spanish Grand Tour after lunchtime it would be more of a shock if a break didn't solely consist of these three teams.
What is for certain is they're getting their money's worth for their sponsors. Today, with very little action to come by before the manic sprint finish, it was a blessing to have this trio up the road, at the very least so the TV director had a choice of camera shots other than the peloton.
So, visit Burgos, buy a BH bike, sign up with Euskaltel for your internet, support the Basque Country (you figure out how to do that), bank with Caja Rural and get your insurance from Seguros RGA. At least that's the message being beamed into the retinas of Spaniards up and down the country tuning into their race, and all thanks to the three plucky individuals up the road on stage 13.
5. After a day off, things get serious for the GC riders
Nicolas Roche correctly predicted on Eurosport after stage 12 that the proceeding stage 13 would be a day off for the peloton, the effect of tough racing that day and testing mountain stages on the other side of the pan-flat 13th day of racing.
Stage 14 first tackles the category one ascent of Alto Collado de Ballesteros at the midway point before a bumpy interlude leading up to the 14.4km-long, 6.3 per cent average gradient summit finish atop Pico Villuercas.
Then, stage 15 presents two category one climbs, a category two and a category three to test the legs for the second consecutive day.
The hope is this weekend of mountains will kick the GC race into life before the third and final week. The main question - can anyone topple (apart from his own challenge of staying upright) the imperious-looking Primož Roglič?
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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