Five talking points from stage 13 of the Vuelta a España

It wasn't the most interesting of stages at the Vuelta a España, but here is the best of the action

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What a snoozefest

Rory Sutherland eases through stage 13 (Watson)

Rory Sutherland eases through stage 13 (Watson)

The number 13 is unlucky for some, and at this Vuelta a España the unlucky ones were the people who had to watch it on television.

You know you’re not in for a classic when everyone before the stage predicts that the breakaway will win the day, which essentially gives the peloton carte blanche to take their sweet time in the chase.

Movistar ‘controlled’ the peloton by simply ensuring that everyone made the time limit and the smooth, effortless action of Rory Sutherland at the front of the pack further emphasised how easy everyone bar the breakaway was taking it.

You can’t really blame them, though. Saturday’s stage looks brutal. We’ve only just passed the halfway point in the race and everyone seems exhausted already.

Have you ever seen a bigger time gap?

Gatis Smukulis and Tom Stamsnijder escape on stage 13 of the 2016 Vuelta a España (Watson)

Gatis Smukulis and Tom Stamsnijder escape on stage 13 of the 2016 Vuelta a España (Watson)

In modern cycling the breakaway is usually on a pretty firm leash, with the peloton able to bring them back whenever they want.

Sometimes you see a rogue breakaway escape the chasing peloton and take the win against the run of play, and sometimes – increasingly frequently these days – the peloton just let the breakaway reach the finish like first.

But rarely do you see time gaps between the break and the peloton as big as we did on stage 13. At one stage the gap was at almost 25 minutes, which is pretty ridiculous. When the stage actually finished they slowed down even more, if that was possible, to finish 34 minutes behind.

The peloton was so far behind that stage winner Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida) had time to do most of his post-race media duties before the pack even crossed the line.

If you were a bit sleepy from watching the stage, you could have had a decent power nap in the time between the winner and the peloton crossing the line. And even then, there wasn’t much action when the pack did pootle over the line.

Spare a thought for Jan Bakelants

Jan Bakelants (Ag2r La Mondiale) has been in pretty much every breakaway for the last week, but on the day that it actually makes it to the line the Belgian was nowhere to be seen.

The last time a race finished in Dantxarinea was the 2014 Tour of the Basque Country, when Bakelants made the break with then Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammate Tony Martin, who went on to win the stage.

Before this stage Bakelants was interviewed on Eurosport, where he expressed his desire to make the break again and he hoped that there wouldn’t be any high placed riders in it.

Well there weren’t any high placed riders in it, but Bakelants didn’t make it. If he had, and the stage had panned out exactly how it did today, Bakelants would now lead the Vuelta by 14 minutes. A missed opportunity…

No change in the general classification

Chris Froome and Michal Golas share a joke (Watson)

Chris Froome and Michal Golas share a joke (Watson)

If you hadn’t guessed from the three previous talking points, the main contenders for the Vuelta a España weren’t exactly in the mood for a competition on stage 13.

It turned into a glorified rest day, just one where they completed a 5.5 hour ride. Legs turned, wheels spun and they eventually got to the line.

It was a great day for Rossetto in the general classification

The reason why the break was allowed to get so far away was because it had no riders in it that posed a danger to Nairo Quintana in the general classification.

Had someone with only a 15 minute deficit to the red jersey been up ahead you can guarantee that the break would have been brought back, or at least had their gap limited to a handful of minutes.

But with Stephane Rossetto the best placed rider overnight, sitting in 66th and over an hour behind the leader, there was no need to rush.

But for the Cofidis rider it turned out to be a great day in the GC, with the 34 minute gap boosting him right up to 45th overall and a little bit of extra prize money to share with his team.

Every little helps.