Vuelta a España #15: Surviving the queen stage

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Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka came safely through Sunday’s queen stage of Vuelta a España. Jacques Janse van Rensburg was the team’s top finisher today. Igor Antón is 22nd in the general classification.

Despite its length of just 129.4 km, all the riders knew that stage 15 would be far from easy. Two challenging category 1 climbs awaited before the final ascent; Alto Hoya de la Mora in Sierra Nevada. Multiple riders attacked as soon as the official start was given but it took a while before a group of eight riders finally got away. However, the peloton wasn’t interested in letting the breakaway get too much of a gap.

On the steep ascent towards the top of Alto de Hazallanas, some of the riders at the front got dropped, while others tried to bridge across. Ultimately, only Sander Armée (Lotto Soudal) remained at the front when Alto del Purche (8.5 km / avg. 8 %) began after just over 100 km of racing.

Three riders later joined Armée but as the pack kept a high pace at all time, the front group didn’t get away for a good. Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) went solo on the climb, while Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) and Miguel Ángel López (Astana) attacked from the peloton. However, the duo never managed to catch Yates who took on the final climb with a gap of over one minute on the chase group and nearly two minutes on the main bunch.

Yates seemed to have the stage win in the bag, but with just over 5 km left to go, López dropped Contador and continued alone to first catch and then immediately drop Yates. Nobody could bring back the Colombian who soloed away to take his second stage win in the race. Chris Froome (Team Sky) finished fifth and kept the red leader’s jersey.

On Monday, the riders in Vuelta a España will be able to enjoy a well-deserved rest day before the race continues with a 42 km individual time trial on Tuesday.

Jacques Janse van Rensburg:
“Today was really hard. We went at full speed right from the gun. Lachlan [Morton] and I tried to get into the breakaways. We both went two or three times but unfortunately, we didn’t make the final move. After that, we did our best to survive the day. I was with the group of favorites as we started on the final climb but I decided to keep my own pace towards the top. Now, we look forward to the rest day and then we will continue to fight in the last week of the race”.