Stage 19 of the Vuelta a España 2019 was supposed to be a relatively uneventful transfer stage ending in a sprint finish. But as has become customary at this year’s Spanish Grand Tour, action and drama has never been far away.
With 66km to go, in rainy conditions, a crash took down a large section of the peloton, including race leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and fourth place Miguel Ángel López (Astana).
One of Roglič’s key lieutenants was forced to abandon, with gruesome pictures of injuries sustained in the crash emerging in the aftermath.
However, while Martin was sitting on the road, his Vuelta over, the race was exploding up ahead.
Movistar were pulling hard at the front, tactics that sparked controversy yesterday, seeming to disrespect the unwritten rule of not attacking the race leader when he has been involved in an accident.
Footage shot by a roadside fan captures the moment a number of the peloton came down in the crash. One Jumbo-Visma rider, presumably Tony Martin, can be seen flipping over his handlebars and coming down hard, with another team-mate also remaining on the tarmac.
Further back, the red jersey of Primož Roglič can be seen caught up in the thick of the crash, but somehow remains upright, just coming to a halt and able to get back on his bike and continue racing.
Eventually, despite Movistar’s acceleration, the race came back together, with no GC riders losing time. López, however, voiced his criticism after the finish line, saying: “These really stupid actions are what the world champion’s team does – that’s what we’re dealing with. What a world champion we have!”
The Colombian later retracted his words, apologising for what he said in the heat of the moment, with Movistar also issuing an apology on the morning of stage 20. The Spanish team said they hadn’t meant to take advantage of their rivals’ crashes, and instead “followed exclusively” a strategy they had outlined before the race.