A number of riders at the Vuelta a España were stuck in Andorra last night, not arriving at their hotels until 5am after a serious crash caused major traffic delays along the transfer route.
Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang posted on his Instagram story showing he was still on the road at 5am, stage nine having finished around 4pm the previous day.
Luckily, a rest day follows stage nine, meaning riders that were held up won’t have to complete a Grand Tour stage on minimal sleep.
After the summit finish at Cortals d’Encamp in Andorra, the peloton was required to travel 290km over the border to Pau in France for the first rest day of this year’s Spanish Grand Tour.
The Pyrenean town is often used for Grand Tour rest days, where riders will attend press conferences and take a day to recover before racing resumes with stage 10’s individual time trial.
Another post from Fuglsang showed the Astana bus had only managed to move 40km by 1:40am, leaving them with 250km to travel through the night.
The Dane’s team-mate, Dario Cataldo, revealed the hold up had been caused by a bad accident, congesting mountain roads that would have already been put under stress by the travelling circus that makes up a Grand Tour.
Sunweb’s Casper Pedersen posted that the transfer was so long it allowed the German team to turn the trip into a movie night. However, rather than a film to take their mind off of racing, the squad were subjected to watching a re-run of the day’s stage.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Zdeněk Štybar showed his team didn’t arrive at their hotel until midnight, and were still waiting for dinner after the gruelling 94km stage that featured a large amount of climbing.
According to La Flamme Rouge, if riders arrived in their Pau hotels after midnight they were in violation of UCI regulations.
The transfer delays only added to what had already been a chaotic day at the Vuelta, with torrential rain and hailstones resulting in a loss of television pictures in the closing kilometres, meaning viewers missed a significant part of the GC battle that unfolded up the final climb.
Then, queues at the cable car left some riders shivering cold as they waited in line to get off the mountain.
After the rest day in Pau, the 2019 Vuelta continues with an individual time trial to kick off the second week of racing. Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) is expected to take the race to his GC rivals on the 36.2km course, with Movistar’s Nairo Quintana currently leading him in the overall classification by just six seconds.