By Jonny Long
Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) eased to victory on stage 14 of the Vuelta a España 2019 after a crash under the flamme rouge brought down the majority of the peloton.
With half of the bunch unpicking themselves, Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal) attacked on the incline up to the finish. Max Richeze (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) hunted him down before Sam Bennett came over the top and sailed across the line, in what will surely turn out to be one of his easiest stage victories at a Grand Tour. Richeze finished second, with Van Der Sande third and a large gap back to the next riders across the line.
Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott) was taken away in an ambulance following the crash, with Owain Doull (Ineos) also looking hurt on the floor. A number of GC riders were caught up in the crash, including Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) but all three seemed to have got away unscathed.
Primož Roglič remains in the race lead ahead of tomorrow's summit finish, which will test the Slovenian's resolve on the red jersey.
How it happened
Stage 14 offered respite for the GC contenders in between two decisive mountain stages in this year's Vuelta a España. The 188km stage featured just one third category climb towards the end of the day, which should finally be contested between the sprinters, who have had to wait a while for a chance at stage victory.
Domingos Gonçalves (Caja Rural - Seguros RGA) was today's only non-starter, as the 164 remaining riders rolled out of San Vicente de la Barquera.
After 15km the action kicked off, as six riders rode off the front of the peloton. Unlike stages 11 and 12, when large breakaways were allowed up the road, the sprinter's teams decided that today would finally be a day where their fast men would contest the stage victory, stage four being the last time the day's action was resolved with a bunch sprint.
The six-man group was made up of Ineos' Salvatore Puccio, Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto-Soudal), Silvan Dillier, Stéphane Rossetto, Luka Pibernik and Diego Rubio (Burgos BH), as Deceuninck - Quick-Step and Bora-Hansgrohe pulled the peloton along the flat.
The peloton kept the break in check, rarely allowing the gap to increase to more than two minutes, which meant that when Rossetto suffered a mechanical with 65km to go, he was swept up by the peloton 3km later.
Ángel Madrazo (Burgos BH) was dropped from the peloton with 33km to go, while further up the road Rubio Diego took the intermediate sprint from the breakaway with Dillier and Puccio second and third.
Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) briefly attacked the peloton with 24km to go, while Harm Vanhoucke led Puccio and Dillier over the Alto La Madera, the third category climb of 3.1% gradient over 8.3km.
Diego was then dropped from the escapees with 13km to go as Deceuninck - Quick-Step pulled the peloton, the gap decreasing to the front of the race.
The break were swept up with under 5km to go as Bora-Hansgrohe pulled the peloton with the other sprinter's teams coming to the fore.
As the bunch sped under the flamme rouge with 1km to go, a huge crash on the right side of the road decimated the peloton, bringing down Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott) who's injuries were serious enough he was taken away in an ambulance. Meanwhile, GC riders Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Primož Roglič all also came down but appeared to have not suffered any bad injuries.
The ensuing pandemonium meant Tosh Van der Sande saw his chance and took it, stealing a march on the peloton and attacking 500m out as the road headed uphill slightly.
Max Richeze countered, dragging Sam Bennett with him, who easily left the Argentinian behind after Van der Sande was caught, the Irishman easily sailing across the line to take his second stage win of this year's Vuelta.
Vuelta a España 2019, stage 14: San Vicente de la Barquer to Oviedo (188km)
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 4-28-46
2. Max Richeze (Arg) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at same time
3. Tosh Van der Sande (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at two seconds
4. Marc Sarreau (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 5s
5. Clément Venturini (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale
6. Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar
7. Jonas Koch (Ger) CCC
8. John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
9. Max Walscheid (Ger) Sunweb
10. Szymon Sajnok (Pol) CCC, all at same time
General classification after stage 14
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, in 53-49-19
2. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, at 2-25
3. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, at 3-01
4. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana, at 3-18
5. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, at 3-33
6. Rafał Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 6-15
7. Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, at 7-18
8. Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) Lotto-Soudal, at 7-33
9. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 7-39
10. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida, 9-58
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. I'm 6'0", 26 years old, have a strong hairline and have an adequate amount of savings for someone my age. I'm very single at the minute so if you know anyone, hit me up.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab, reporting about students evacuating their bowels on nightclub dancefloors and consecrating their love on lecture hall floors. 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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