Mads Pedersen faces new challengers: Five things we learned from stage 11 of the Vuelta a España 2022
Covid is a very live issue in the bunch, and it is hot hot hot in Spain
The LOSS OF ALAPHILIPPE IS A HUGE BLOW FOR REMCO EVENEPOEL AND QUICK-STEP ALPHA VINYL
Julian Alaphilippe crashed out of the Vuelta a España this afternoon. The Frenchman was taken away in an ambulance with his right arm heaving strapped.
Losing Alaphilippe at this stage in the race is undoubtedly a big blow for the race leader Remco Evenepoel. Despite his hefty advantage over second-placed Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), Evenepoel would have benefited from Alaphilippe’s presence in the key mountain stages still to come.
Earlier in the race, Evenepoel also lost Pieter Serry to a positive test for Covid-19 meaning the young Belgian now has just five teammates remaining.
On a personal level, crashing heavily with the World Championships just three-weeks away will be a big blow to Julian Alaphilippe’s ambitions of winning a third-straight road title.
COVID-19 CONTINUES TO DECIMATE BIKE RACES
Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) were the two latest high profile riders to be forced out of racing in Spain due to positive tests for Covid. The tally for withdrawals relating to Covid now stands at 21.
Losing Sivakov came hot on the heels of a positive test for Ethan Hayter at Ineos Grenadiers. All of the hopes of a podium finish for the British team at the Vuelta now rest on the shoulders of Spanish youngster Carlos Rodriguez.
Meanwhile, Yates had been gradually riding into form at the last Grand Tour of the year and was fifth overall prior to leaving the action. With Yates’ favoured terrain of the high mountains approaching this weekend, he would have been a safe bet for a potential stage win.
Dries Devenyns, a team mate of race leader Remco Evenepoel, told Cycling Weekly that the only way to avoid Covid at the race was “to be lucky, I’m afraid.”
Earlier on in the three-week race, Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) had been forced to abandon due to a positive test for the virus.
PEDERSEN FACES NEW CHALLENGES IN FIGHT FOR GREEN
The fight for the green jersey of leader of the points competition took a new turn on Saturday.
Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) spent the majority of stage eight in the breakaway meaning he cleaned up at the day’s intermediate sprint to take over the lead in the competition ahead of Sam Bennett.
However, with Bennett being forced to abandon ahead of the stage 10 time trial the competition is now almost over but still live. Pedersen currently has a lead of nearly 100 points over second-placed Remco Evenepoel although the Danish rider will have to keep an eye on Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) in the coming days.
Soler has already won a stage and looked incredibly strong in the race so far. With two-weeks of the action still to come, the Spanish rider could certainly pick up multiple points from the breakaway in days to come meaning he could push Pedersen all the way in that competition.
An IMMEDIATE RESPONSE FROM BIKE EXCHANGE-JAYCO
After losing their team leader, Simon Yates, to Covid the Australian team responded perfectly to the news with Kaden Groves taking the stage win.
The Australian sprinter put in a violent final kick in the run for the line to beat Danny Van Poppel (Bora-Hansgrohe), Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo). A huge win for the team given their circumstances and position in the battle for much needed UCI points to avoid being relegated from the WorldTour.
With other sprint opportunities still to come, Groves will be one to watch as the Australian outfit look for other opportunities to secure further stage wins.
RIDERS SUFFER IN THE BLISTERING SPANISH SUN
The temperatures soared in the Murcia region of Spain this afternoon.
At one point in the action, the recorded temperature was as high as 37 degrees. The same high temperature that was recorded across the UK in the recent heat wave.
In a scene that was more befitting of a Western film set let alone a bike race, riders poured cold water over themselves in an effort to lower their body temperature. Riders were also seen placing socks containing ice across their necks as they battled to keep cool.
With record summer temperatures across Europe continuing to rise on a yearly basis, cyclists battling in the heat this afternoon may well have considered the sports appalling impact on the environment.
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Tom is a News and Features Writer at Cycling Weekly, and previously worked in communications at Oxford Brookes University. Alongside his day job, prior to starting with the team, he wrote a variety of different pieces as a contributor to a cycling website, Casquettes and Bidons, which included interviews with up and coming British riders.
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