Simon Clarke rode up the road and back into the mountains classification lead on the 14th stage of the Vuelta a España. Part of a 16-rider break that formed 20 kilometers into the first of three consecutive stages ending with summit finishes, Clarke took points on three of the five categorized climbs to regain the polka dot jersey from Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
“It wasn’t the plan to have Simon in the move today, but once he was in it, he gave it a go for the mountains classification,” said Sports Director Neil Stephens. “He didn’t go for points on the first categorized climbs but took top points on the next three. He might not be able to keep the jersey all the way to Madrid, but it’s good to have him back in the lead at the moment.”
Stage 14, a shorter race day at only 149.2 kilometers, began with attacks from the gun. ORICA-GreenEDGE instigated many of the early moves.
“Daniel Teklehaimanot and Pieter Weening were on at the attack at the start of the race,” explained Stephens. “Simon went to cover a move to help out his teammates and ended up making the break again He’s a little fatigued after his break yesterday, but he represented the team very well.”
The escape group gained a maximum advantage of three minutes as Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank and Team Sky patrolled the break from the bunch. The breakaway began to fracture up the first category Alto Folgueiras de Aigas. Clarke lost contact with the group 12 kilometers from the finish.
“It was a day for the general classification riders in the end,” said Stephens. “The next two days may be for them, too, but I’d like us to give it a try. Tomorrow’s stage includes two classic climbs, and we have a few riders who are interested in a break on what should be an epic day.”