Breakaway Fights for Stage Glory in Castelldefels

Fri 6 Sep 2013

Neo-pro Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano) scored a major coup in Castelldefels, attacking his ten rider breakaway in the final kilometre of the 13th stage of the Vuelta a España. The 21-year-old held off a fast-closing Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Bauke Mollema (Belkin) to earn the biggest win of his career.

Barguil emerged from an escape group of 18 that formed 60km into the stage. Christian Meier flew the flag for ORICA-GreenEDGE in the move of the day. The group splintered over the category one Alto del Rat Penat. Eight riders, including Meier, rejoined the bunch while the remaining ten carried on toward the finish in their quest for Grand Tour glory.

Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) led the reduced bunch home, 2’43 after Barguil’s win. All the major contenders, including race leader Vincenzo Nibali, finished in the front group of 30 riders. Simon Clarke finished slightly off the pace of the red jersey group, crossing the line in 49th place at 2’58.

“We had decided that the ideal scenario for us was to put someone in the break,” said Sport Director Matt Wilson. “That was the first priority of the day. The second priority was to save Michael Matthews on the cat one climb and assess his chances once he was over the top. The third option was to unleash Clarkey or Gerro [Simon Gerrans] on the climb.”

“None of the options really panned out for us,” Wilson continued. “We did get Christian in the break, but it was a bit too hard for him over the climb with all the work he’s done these last two weeks. Clarkey or Gerro would have been our best option for the break.”

Getting up the road was far easier planed than realised. The peloton soared toward Castelldefels at blistering speeds. Numerous attacks resulted in several different short-lived moves attempting to distance themselves from the front. The peloton finally sat up when Mollema initiated what would become the race winning move. The group of six swelled to include 18 riders that gained a slightly more than three minute advantage over the bunch.

“It was really difficult for the first 50-60km today,” said Wilson. “It was just full on. In the end, we couldn’t cherry pick who we got into the break. Whoever could get up the road was in it.”

With the break away, the bunch settled slightly and began to prepare for the category one obstacle ahead. The escape group hit the base of the climb, 55km from the finish, with a three minute advantage.

“It was altogether in the bunch before the cat one,” said Wilson. “It went a bit pear-shaped for us after that. When the break split, Christian couldn’t maintain contact with the leaders and none of the other guys made it over the climb with the main peloton.”

ORICA-GreenEDGE heads to the mountains with a team as seven. Sam Bewley returns to Girona before the start of stage 14.

“It’s Sam first Grand Tour,” explains Wilson. “It was always the plan that he’d race only two weeks. He’s an important guy for our team time trial squad at the World Championships. He needs to do the camp with the team in Girona where the final selection for our Worlds team will be made.”

“For the rest of the team, the next two days are about survival,” Wilson continued. “If the guys are feeling good, they can take an opportunity to get up the road, but our main goal will be to support them through the tough mountain stages up next.”