Roche and van Garderen Remain in Top 5 Ahead of First Rest Day27. August 2017, Cumbre del Sol (ESP) — Road Team
After nine tough stages at the Vuelta a España, Nicolas Roche and Tejay van Garderen have shown their strength in the mountains to defend their place in the top five in the General Classification ahead of the first rest day.
As was the case on stage 8, the General Classification battle was set to take place on the final climb of the day, the Alto de Puig Llorença, which included gradients of up to 21% and an average gradient of 9.1%.
Multiple attacks played out as soon as the flag dropped at kilometer 0, including one from Daniel Oss, but it was eventually a 10-rider breakaway that formed after 20km of racing.
Cannondale-Drapac took control of the peloton and kept the breakaway’s advantage to within three minutes for the next 100km of flat terrain.
After 129km of the 174km stage, the race reached the first climb of the day which was an ascension of the first 3.2km of the Alto de Puig Llorença, at which point the breakaway began to split and riders dropped from the back of the peloton as the tough gradients took their toll.
Roche and van Garderen’s teammates ensured they were protected and positioned at the front of the peloton in the run into the final ascension of the full 4km climb and as soon as the breakaway was pulled back with 5km to go, attacks started.
The BMC Racing Team duo rode at their own pace and stayed with the reduced group of General Classification contenders as the group pulled the initial 3-rider move back and the next round of attacks started inside the final kilometer.
Race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky) attacked with 600 meters remaining and created enough of a gap to hold on and claim the stage win, while behind the group was completely split apart as riders fought to minimize their time loss.
Roche crossed the line 13 seconds behind in 9th place and van Garderen in 12th place, 19 seconds down, which was enough to defend third and fifth overall respectively.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“I was flat out. Today was a very different type of heat. It was so humid being so close to the sea and I’ve been training in the dry heat and used to that, but today was a proper shock. I was drifting and I didn’t get over excited, I stayed almost last wheel of that group trying to stay sheltered and as much as possible in the rhythm knowing that the final 500m were going to have to be at not 100%, but more. When I saw the guys attack for the line just before that corner, I thought “this is a bit too far for me” so I paced myself around the corner and once I saw the 500m to go, I thought “there’s no choice now, I have to go and hope that I can make it to the line”.
“I’m quite happy after nine very hard days. I have to give a big thanks to the team because without them, I wouldn’t be in that position at the first rest day. Now there is a completely different type of mountains coming up. The second week is going to be as hard as the first one.”
Tejay van Garderen:
“It was okay. I’m glad to make it to the rest day. Hopefully I can recover from these aches I’m having from my crash. I feel like I’m not moving as well as I was before but I’m still going okay, so hopefully it keeps getting better. We’re going to see some longer climbs, less explosive. Hopefully that suits my style more so we can hopefully weed some people off the back and if I’m feel really good, move off the front.”
Vuelta a España
Stage 9 Orihuela > Cumbre del Sol (174km).
Top 3: 1. Chris Froome (Team Sky), 2. Esteban Chaves (ORICA – SCOTT), 3. Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac). 1. Chris Froome (Team Sky), 2. Esteban Chaves (ORICA – SCOTT), 3. Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac).
BMC Racing Team top 3: 9. Nicolas Roche, 12. Tejay van Garderen, 73. Kilian Frankiny
BMC Racing Team Flickr Gallery
See photos from the race.