Bookwalter and Roche Test Their Legs in the Breakaway on Vuelta a España Stage 148. September 2018, Les Praeres. Nava (ESP) — Road Team
Nicolas Roche and Brent Bookwalter led the way for BMC Racing Team on Vuelta a España stage 14, riding as part of the day’s breakaway before the race came down to a General Classification showdown on the slopes of another brutal final climb.
After a short uncategorized climb in the first three kilometers, of the 171-kilometer course, the road rose steadily all the way to the base of the Puerto de San Isidro with Roche and Bookwalter making it into the day’s six-rider breakaway after another active start for the team.
By the time they reached the slopes of the 11 kilometer-long climb, the leaders, whose advantage was at one point over 3’30”, sat 2’25” ahead of the main bunch, which was keeping tight control of the gap due to the presence of Michal Kwiatkowksi (Team Sky), who started the day 5’02” back on the General Classification, at the front of the race.
The status quo remained the same with Bookwalter, Roche and company sitting over two minutes up the road heading into the second half of the day with four of the day’s five categorized climbs still to tackle.
On the Alto de la Coladona, the top of which came with just over 78 kilometers to go, the breakaway’s advantage was able to extend back out to almost four minutes but the peloton was still hot on their heels and ultimately, the gap was pulled back to two minutes inside the final 50 kilometers of racing.
Soon, it was just Roche, Bookwalter and Kwiatkowksi who remained at the front of the race but the reduced main bunch, which was at this point 30 riders strong, sat only around one minute back going onto the penultimate climb, the Alto de la Falla de los Lobos.
The slopes of the final climb, the Alto Les Praers, which had pitches of a brutal 17.5% in places, proved to be the backdrop of a fierce battle between the General Classification contenders that were sat in the front group with Roche and Bookwalter that caught Kwiatkowski, who had attempted to go solo to the finish line, approaching the five kilometer to go mark.
In the end, it was Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) who proved to be the strongest, distancing his rivals in the final moments of the day to take a solo victory and move back into the leader’s red jersey.
After strong performances from both Roche and Bookwalter out of the front of the race, the BMC Racing Team duo rode their own pace up the last part of the climb before crossing the finishing line inside the top thirty, 5’10” and 5’24” behind Yates respectively.
Quotes From the Finish Line:
"I was happy to be in the breakaway and back out at the front of the race today. We knew it was going to be difficult to make it to the finish especially when we were really only ever given three minutes. It was good to have Brent in there with me too and we gave it everything we had so I think even though we were caught, we can be happy with our effort.”
“I was happy to be up there and out of the scrum of the peloton finally. I have been trying in one way or another to get in the breakaway every day and although it’s been good for the team it’s personally been a little bit frustrating to see my teammates up there in moves that have been able to stay away. But, I stayed committed to my efforts at the start of the day and was rewarded with some separation from the bunch. It was unfortunate that the composition of the group wasn’t right as we quickly saw that the GC teams weren’t going to give us too much room. Of course, it was smart of them to do that, especially with Kwiatkowski in the breakaway too, but it was a bit of a pity for us. However, I enjoyed having some open road ahead of me and it felt good to be there. It probably cost me a lot in terms of energy but I think a lot of guys are starting to get tired and hopefully we can get through tomorrow alright and press reset again on the rest day.”
Sports Director, Jackson Stewart:
“It was a good day for Nico and Brent in the breakaway. It was a little bit small in numbers but was super strong and we capitalized on that but with Kwiatkowski in there, they were never give too much room but we rode hard and the guys did a good job so, even though they were caught in the end, I think we can be happy with their effort.”
Vuelta a España
Stage 14: Cistierna > Les Praeres. Nava, 171km
Top 3: 1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 2. Miguel Angel López (Astana Pro Team) 3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 27. Nicolas Roche 28. Brent Bookwalter 67. Rohan Dennis