No luck for Degenkolb as MTN's success continues, Dumoulin holds onto red and there's no leeway for the break; here's what got us talking after stage 10 of the Spanish tour
Degenkolb still can’t get one
John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) must be starting to get a little frustrated now. An entire Tour de France and the first week of the Vuelta done and there’s still no stage win for the versatile German.
Stage 10’s second place is his fifth Grand Tour stage podium finish of the year, so not quite Peter Sagan levels, but enough reason to be starting to get a little anxious.
Not only that, it’s hard to dispute that most sprinters on an equal calibre with the 2015 Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix winner have abandoned the race; Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) ducked out after that motorbike incident, while crashes took their toll on Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and illness got to young talent Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) who have both taken their leave.
JJ Rojas looked like Degenkolb’s biggest threat, and their was certainly a signal of intent with the level of work his Movistar team put into the race on Monday’s stage.
But the final sprint never went right for Degenkolb. He was too far back when everything got started, and quickly found himself boxed in as the speed ramped up. There was no doubt he had the fastest turn of speed, eventually coming round everyone to get to the line and almost take it.
There’s plenty more stages of a similar vain to this route for Degenkolb to have a crack at, and he’ll be hoping to make his team’s hard work count…
Dumoulin’s a selfless leader
Red jersey, rest day coming – you wouldn’t blame Tom Dumoulin if he just sat in and followed the wheels to protect his hold on the overall as his teammates did the work for Degenkolb. But he did no suck thing.
The Dutchman repaid the work done by his teammates in the mountain stages by leading down the descent of the final climb and chasing down anyone who dared jump off the from in the closing kilometres and helped keep things together for his sprinter.
Giant-Alpecin were by far the most active team of the day, barely letting anyone out of their site as looked to finish off a fantastic week with another stage win. And while Degenkolb couldn’t finish things off, it was a sublime show of teamwork by the German based team and the race leader Dumoulin.
MTN-Qhubeka’s Grand Tour success continues
Can it get any better for the African squad? Invites to two Grand Tours for the Pro Continental squad was a demonstration of where they stood as a team at the start of the year, but they’ve certainly enhanced their reputation no-end with a stage win at both the Tour and now the Vuelta.
Which makes it even more of a disappointment that they’ll be having to search for new sponsorship for next year (although Dimension Data are touted as new title sponsors), particularly with history having been made through the two Eritreans they took to the Tour and the King of the Mountain’s jersey Daniel Teklehaimanot took at the Criterium du Dauphine in June.
Kristian Sbaragli’s sprint victory on stage 10 is just another icing on the cake for the team in a remarkable season, and it seems unlikely they’ll be giving up on finding some more success through breakaways as well as on GC, where young South African Louis Meintjes sits 2-25 down overall in 12th position.
The breaks were never given a chance
And it’s not like they didn’t try.
The 40-man split that got away after 25km held just over a minute’s maximum gap on the chasing bunch, and with riders like Sergio Henao (Team Sky) sitting high-up on the GC, they were never allowed to establish a rhythm and things quickly and it was a fractured, disorganised group.
“I can’t decide whether the bunch will ride fast or ride slow” said Niki Terpstra (Etixx – Quick-Step) at the top of the day, but that didn’t seem to matter to him as he surged away with just over 46km to go. But the Dutchman wasn’t even allowed to make it to the foot of the final category two climb as the pace of the bunch stayed high.
Kenny Elissonde (FDJ), Alessandro Di Marchi (BMC) and Romain Sicard (Europcar) made a getaway on the climb, but a Dumoulin led peloton showed no let up on the descent as they tried to work in a rare opportunity for the sprinters in this Vuelta a España.
This is a well needed rest day
Climb, after climb, after climb. This has been a hard week and a big ten days for the riders as the Vuelta hits its first rest day.
But it’s going to be one where they’ll have half a mind on what’s to come. Not everyone comes out of the rest day riding better than they were before, in fact some seem to suffer for it, and with stage 11 being the monstrous Andorra stage, it could be a defining day in the GC.