The solo stage could prove decisive in the final week of the Spanish Grand Tour
Australia’s Rohan Dennis showed more of his dominating time trial class as he powered to a victory on stage 16 of the Vuelta a España.
BMC’S Dennis picked up a second commanding TT win at the Spanish Grand Tour on Tuesday, as race leader Simon Yates gained time on his nearest rivals.
The Australian smashed his competitors, finishing 50 seconds ahead of team-mate Joey Rosskopf and Team Sky’s Jonathan Castroviejo in third.
Dennis picked up an earlier TT win in Spain during the opening 8km stage in Malaga.
Yates put in another strong time trial performance to extend his lead over the Movistar pairing of Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana, finishing just 1-28 behind Dennis.
It was a race of two halves, as the top three finishers all set off early from the start town of Santillana del Mar while the GC battle played out in the closing minutes.
A surprising early benchmark time was posted by Quick-Step Floors’ Kasper Asgreen.
The 23-year-old Dane was the first rider to break the sub 40-minute barrier out on the course and taking the leader’s chair, before dropping back to eighth overall.
The first of the stage favourites to finish was European time trial champion Victor Campenaerts.
Lotto-Soudal’s leading leading man against the clock missed out on the win by some way, failing to knock the young Asgreen from the top spot.
Campenaerts finished in 10th place on the stage, 1-17 behind the eventual winner Dennis.
But Asgreen’s position was not safe as Team Sky’s Spanish time trial specialist Jonathan Castroveijo made it home shortly after Campenaerts and knocked the 23-year-old Quick-Step rider from the hot seat.
Moments later, the favourite for the stage and opening time trial winner Rohan Dennis put in a peerless ride.
The Australian crossed the line almost a minute faster than Castroviejo and almost immediately knocking the Spaniard down into second.
BMC’s Joey Rosskopf followed team mate Dennis’ impressive ride and took second place, but was still 50 seconds slower than the Australian.
The last rider capable of ousting Dennis was Sky’s team leader Michal Kwiatkowski, who was just four seconds down at the first split.
But the Pole’s power had waned by the second marker and Kwiatkowski finished 51 seconds down on the fastest man Dennis, in fifth place.
The best performer out of the GC men was Steven Kruijswijk, who finished fifth on the stage and jumped up to third in the race overall.
Yates cemented his position as a rider who can hold his own in the time trial extending his lead over second place Valverde to 33 seconds, while Nairo Quintana now sits fourth overall at 1-15.
Vuelta a España 2018 stage 16 time trial, Santillana del Mar – Torrelavega (32km)
1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC, in 37-57
2. Joey Rosskopf (USA) BMC, at 50s
3. Jonathan Castroviejo (Esp) Team Sky, at 50s
4. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 51s
5. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky, at 51s
6. Enric Nas (Esp) Quick-Step Floor, at 1-03
7. Nelson Oliviera (Por), at 1-05
8. Laurens De Plus (Bel), at 1-07
9. Simon Geschke (Ger) Sunweb, at 1-10
10. Kasper Asgreen (Dnk) Quick-Step, at 1-10
General classification after stage 16
1. Simon Yates (Gbr) Mitchelton-Scott, in 64-52-58
2. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, at 33s
3. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 52s
4. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, at 1-15
5. Enric Mas, (Esp) Quick-Step Floors, at 1-30
6. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team, at 1-34
7. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 2-53
8. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Bahrain-Merida, at 3-04
9. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac, at 3-15
10. Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, at 4-43