Cobbled climb makes for tricky final on stage 19 of Vuelta a Espana

Fri 11 Sep 2015

Two-time stage winner Esteban Chaves has maintained seventh overall after a dangerous cobbled climb in the final three kilometres of stage 19 at the Vuelta a Espana.

After a relaxed start, that allowed a large breakaway plenty of room to contest for stage honours, the action from the peloton finally heated up once they hit the final category two climb with 30km to go.

Movistar hit the front with force and shelled out much of the bunch. ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Daryl Impey rode strongly in support of Chaves to position the Colombian before he lost touch towards the top.

Despite several attacks, the general classification contenders remained together until the final three kilometres when race leader Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) attacked and took Daniel Moreno (Team Katusha) with him. Chaves held on with fellow top ten riders to finish nine seconds behind the duo.

“Today was a little bit tricky,” sport director Neil Stephens said. “The most important section was the crosswinds coming into the climb and the final cobbled climb."

“Unfortunately on the final hill, when they attacked, Esteban didn’t know whether if he should be standing up, sitting down or what he should be doing to get up the cobbles. He lost a little bit of time to a few riders today but thankfully for us it wasn’t enough to lose his seventh place.

“Tomorrow is more about pure climbing. Esteban is quietly confident. He knows the area well having trained there with the Colombian national team, he knows the climbs well and he thinks they suit him, so we will be out to defend our seventh place.”

How it happened:

A group of 24 riders moved off the front after five kilometres.

Saving their troops for any threatening attacks later in the stage, race leaders Giant-Alpecin let them go without any resistance and after just 30km the gap was already ten minutes.

A crash in the peloton, featuring Dumoulin and Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team), further slowed the peloton but they regrouped and settled on a 15minute advantage for much of the remainder of the stage.

In the final 40km the gap increased slightly as the breakaway started to attack each other on the final climb.

Team Movistar set a brutal tempo on the final category two climb to initiate the action from the peloton. But their efforts, including a series of attacks by Alejandro Valverde, were not enough to put any general classification riders in trouble.

Giant-Alpecin took the reigns into the final three kilometres before Dumoulin launched on the cobbled hill. Only Moreno had the strength to go with him, whilst Aru finished between the duo and the remaining contenders.

16minutes earlier it was Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale) who claimed the stage from the early break.