Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) won stage 16 of the 2022 Vuelta a España in a hectic five-man sprint that saw Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) crash after leading the riders into the last 500m of the stage.
It was Pederson’s second stage win of the race, with Pascal Ackermann (UAE-Emirates), Danny van Poppel (BORA-Hangrohe) and Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) finishing closely behind him.
Roglič, who had kicked with 2.5km to go, appeared to clip the bike, or perhaps knee, of Wright as he began his sprint for the line. The crash left him blooded on the tarmac, although he was able to remount and cross the line, and puts into question his condition as the race heads into the final few days.
Race leader Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) had a quiet day until the final 2.2km when he punctured. However, his race lead was preserved thanks to the 3km rule.
How It Happened
One of the flatter stages in this year’s race, stage 16 started on the coast in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. The 189.4km route then headed inland, circling Seville before reaching the finish in Tomares, a suburb of the Andalusian capital.
On paper a day for the punchy sprinters perhaps; however a 1.5km climb, with an average gradient of 6%, just 10km from the finish presented a chance to launch a late attack as well drop those riders looking to contest the tricky finish into Tomares. The last time the race used this finish, in 2017, Matteo Trentin won in the colours of Quick-Step. Interestingly, the top 10 that day featured Vincenzo Nibali, Chris Froome, Wilco Kelderman and Alberto Contador, indicating the difficulty of the finish and its suitability to climbers too.
The day started with another positive Covid test resulting in Maxim van Gils (Lotto-Soudal) abandoning the race. Estaban Chaves (EF Education-EasyPost) was also a DNS.
As soon as the flag dropped, Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH) and Luis Angel Maté (Euskaltel-Euskadi) attacked, opening a gap of 17'' in the first kilometre. With 10kms gone that lead grew to 3-05, with the peloton seemingly happy with the two-man selection outfront. The break of the day looked to be established.
Trek-Segafredo and Cofidis took turns to pull the bunch, clear indication of their intent to contest the final sprint for Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) and Bryan Coquard (Cofidis). An intermediate sprint point towards the finish also presented Pedersen with a chance to pad his sizable lead - 173 points over Fred Wright (Bahrain-Victorious) - in the green jersey.
With 173km to go, Pederson had an early scare, a mechanical issue causing him to stop. However, he quickly rejoined the peloton.
By the time the race reached Lebrija, some 30 kms into the stage and the home town of Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo), the lead of the two riders out front sat at 3-18, with the peloton controlling the gap comfortably.
With 120km remaining the gap was 3-24. It was proving to be a relaxed day for many teams, including Remco’s Quick Step boys, with Trek and Confidis doing the majority of the pulling.
The pace did quicken when the peloton entered the final 100km, with the time gap dropping by some 40 seconds in 30 minutes of racing. With 86km to the line, the lead of Maté and Okamika was down to 2-35. Cofidis and Trek continued to pull, with Movistar, no doubt concerned with keeping Enric Mas safe, also prominent at the front of the bunch.
With 65km to the finish the gap to the break dropped below 2-00 for the first time. However, by the 60km mark it was back up to 2-08.
The slow reeling in of the two-man break began inside the final 50km, with Trek and Cofidis continuing to pull. At the 46.5km mark it had been reduced to 1-54. By 40km it was down to 1-39. With 31km to go it stood at just 58s. The catch appeared imminent.
The intermediate sprint at Alcalá del Río, with 28km to go, was won by Maté ahead of Okamika. The remaining points were mopped up by Pedersen and his Trek teammates, who led the peloton over the line uncontested. The third place gave the Danish sprinter another 15 points to add to his points classification total.
At the 20km mark, the peloton quickend its pace as GC teams looked to position their leaders towards the front of the bunch with the first climb approaching. The gap to the two man break was now 28s.
The catch happened with 13.8km to the finish. BikeExchange-Jayco and Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl were now visible at the front of the peloton. Ibai Azurmendi (Euskaltel-Euskadi) jumped clear of the bunch just inside the 13km mark but was caught on the lower slopes of the climb by the peloton.
Inside 10km the peloton began to line out, with Ineos Grenadiers and Quick-Step taking up the pace. Kaden Groves punctured going under the 9km mark, meaning the BikeExchange sprinter wouldn’t contest the finish.
Jumbo-Visma and Alpecin-Deceuninck joined the party with around 5km to go, as did Team UAE Emirates. The calm was now replaced with a minor storm, as riders looked to position themselves going into the next climb.
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) kicked with 2.5km to go and quickly had several bike lengths on the chasers before being caught by Pascal Akermann (UAE Emirates), Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious), Danny van Poppel (BORA-Hansgrohe) and Pedersen.
Roglič led them out into the final 500m. When Pedersen kicked for the line, Roglič, who was at the rear of the five riders, appeared to clip Fred Wright as he wound up his sprint. The contact left him blooded on the ground although he was able to cross the line. He gained 8 seconds on Evenepoel for his troubles.
No one was catching Pedersen as he won his second stage of the race. Ackermann finished in second, with Van Poppel third and Fred Wright fourth.
With 2.2km Evenepoel had a puncture but his race lead was largely unaffected thanks to the 3km rule. This means that he was given the same time as the group that finished 8 seconds behind the leaders.
VUELTA A ESPAÑA 2022: STAGE 16 RESULTS
1. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo in 4-45-29
2. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) UAE Team Emirates, at 0 secs
3. Danny van Poppel (Ned) BORA - Hansgrohe
4. Fred Wright (Gbr) Bahrain Victorious
5. Quentin Pacher (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 8s
6. Samuele Battistella (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team
7. Cedric Beullens (Bel) Team DSM
8. Clément Russo (Fra) Team Arkéa Samic
9. Jesús Ezquerra (Esp) Burgos-BH
10. Julius van den Berg (Ned) EF Education-EasyPost
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 16
1. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, in 61-26-26
2. Primož Roglič (Svn) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-26
3. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar, at 2-01
4. Juan Ayuso (Esp) UAE Team Emirates, at 4-49
5.Carlos Rodríguez (Esp) Ineos Grenadiers, at 5-16
6. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana Qazaqstan, at 5-24
7. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 7-00
8. Thymenn Arensman (Ned) Team DSM, at 7-05
9. Ben O’Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team, at 8-57
10. Jai Hindley (Aus) BORA-Hansgrohe, at 11-36
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Luke Friend has worked as a writer, editor and copywriter for over twenty years. Across books, magazines and websites, he's covered a broad range of topics for a range of clients including Major League Baseball, the National Trust and the NHS. He has an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and is a qualified bicycle mechanic. He fell in love with cycling at an early age, partly due to watching the Tour de France on TV. He's a passionate follower of bike racing to this day as well an avid road and gravel rider.
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