Howson in the break once again on stage 16 of La Vuelta

Mon 9 Sep 2019

Australian Damien Howson made it into the breakaway yet again as the peloton head into the rest day following a tough stage 16 of La Vuelta a Espana.

The 27-year-old and his fellow escapees made it to the bottom of the final climb, but Howson was eventually distanced as the break began to attack each other on the slopes.

No Rest for the Wicked

There was no chance of the peloton easing into the second rest day of the race with three categorised climbs to contend with on stage 16, including a summit finish to end the day. There was the usual fight to get into the breakaway in the opening kilometres with the first climb of the day the ideal platform for attacks.

Eventually a group of 16-riders managed to get clear of the pack with Howson making into the breakaway for the third time during this La Vuelta. The group stretched their advantage out to over five minutes over the top of the ascent and down the other side, with the peloton happy to let them go.

The first bit of action came as several riders started to up the tempo in the leading group on the next climb, with several riders finding the increase in pace too much. Howson was holding the wheels and made it over the top within the lead group before several attacks began to roll on the descent and in the valley on the approach to the final ascent.

Final Ascent

The group eventually came back together before the final climb with those present at the head of the race set to do battle for the stage victory with the gap back to the bunch sitting at over eight minutes.

The attacks soon began to fly with nine kilometres remaining as five riders gapped Howson and the rest of the breakaway. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) then attacked solo to take the victory while further back down the mountain a general classification battle saw Mikel Nieve and Esteban Chaves distanced before the summit.

Damien Howson:
“It was pretty hard, the breakaway went just before the first categorised climb and I was able to be in it again today. I just think I’m feeling the effects of a lot of big efforts I’ve made in multiple breakaways this week, so unfortunately I didn’t have anything left on the final climb.”

Mikel Nieve:
“In the beginning everyone was trying to get in to the break and finally Damo made it. Then in the final I tried as best as possible, but ok, I didn’t climb like I wanted, but we will keep trying and we hope next week we feel better.”

Julian Dean (Sports Director):
"It was always our objective to try and put guys in the break. It was a pretty epic start with a lot of false-flat uphill and a lot of moves went at different times and we finally managed to get Damo in there with the breakaway group."

"It was a pretty good group with the likes of Luis Leon Sanchez and Fuglsang in there, so I t was always going to be a tall order for Damo, but you’ve got to give these things a go."

"It was good that Mikel fought on there at the end and stayed with the Quintana group and Esteban tried what he could, but it’s been a tough race for him. But we’ve still got some days, there’s plenty of racing left."

La Vuelta – Stage 15 Results:
1. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) 4:01:22
2. Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Ineos) +0:22
3. Luis Leon Sanhcez (Astana Pro Team) +0:40
35. Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +8:32

La Vuelta – General Classification after Stage 15:
1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 62:17:52
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) +2:48
3. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +3:42
17. Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 17:32

Photos courtesy of Getty Images