In His Own Words: Neil Stephens on Vuelta a España Stage 19

Relentless high speeds gave way to a milder day of racing on the 19th stage of the Vuelta a España. Sports Director Neil Stephens reviews the stage.

Today was a slower day, but it wasn’t quite as slow as everyone seemed to think. The stage was actually 12 kilometers longer than forecasted. We knew before the stage began that the day would be longer than what was listed in the race bible. Because the boys have been racing so fast and hard all the way through the Vuelta, the race organization didn’t put the start forward to compensate for the extra distance.

Most of the race was rather uneventful. A two-rider break went up the road. They opened up a large gap before a number of teams picked up the pace to bring them back to the bunch. Inside the final 30 kilometers, the break had been caught. We always knew Movistar would light things up at the end, but I don’t think we realized quite how aggressive they would be.

The peloton split, and we drove the pace of the second group in an effort to reconnect the two groups. If the stage came down to a bunch sprint, Allan Davis was up for the win.

We were unable to bridge the gap to the split, and that was our race. Phillippe Gilbert (BMC) won the stage ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Daniel Moreno (Katusha). There were no major changes to the overall.

We’re firmly focused on seeing what we can do tomorrow. It will be a true test to defend Simon Clarke’s mountain jersey, and we’re ready to do battle. 

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