Breakaway efforts unrewarded for ORICA-GreenEDGE on stage 18 of Vuelta a EspanaThu 11 Sep 2014
After two early attempts amongst a hectic start to make the breakaway, ORICA-GreenEDGE settled with a quiet day on the road on stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana.
Meanwhile, two category two climbs in the final 30km created a battle field for the general classification contenders, Astana’s Fabio Aru taking the stage victory ahead of Chris Froome (SKY).
“The first hour and a half was really really fast, there were attacks going left, right and centre,” sport director Neil Stephens said.
“We had three guys that were suited to today’s final which was Simon Clarke, Adam Yates and Esteban Chaves so those three were going hell for leather to make the break at the start.
“They made it into several moves but just couldn’t get away and the one that did finally get away wasn’t fruitful anyway.
“Then when they got to the climbs they were spent, so we wanted see if Michael Matthews might be able to make it up but as soon as we got there we realised that it was actually as hard as we thought it might be and not one for him today.”
The race was on from the flag today with riders covering over 50km in the first hour of racing. Making the break was the flavour of the day with two big break attempts, the first featuring Esteban Chaves and second with Simon Clarke, unsuccessful.
In the end a group of three were allowed to drift off the front but were never given a chance with Movistar keeping up the pace of the peloton.
When the trio hit the bottom of the first categorised climb with 30km to ride, the gap was just 30seconds. Luis Leon Sanchez (CJR) attacked from the front to collect mountains points before the race was back together on the descent.
The general classification contenders move to the front of the remaining field ahead of the final climb to the finish. Trading strikes, Aru escaped and was joined by Froome, the likes of Alejandro Valverde and Alberto Contador in the end unable to respond.
Tomorrow marks the second last road stage of this year’s tour before it wraps up with a time trial on Sunday. Riders will face another two category two climbs however unlike today, the first features mid-race and the second with 20km to the finish, potentially allowing the sprinters a final chance for a stage win.