Oscar Rodriguez (Euskadi-Murias) took the biggest win of his career by claiming Stage 13 of La Vuelta a Espana. He beat Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing Team) to the top step of the stage podium.
Stage 13 was the start of three consecutive mountain stages, all with summit finishes. Today’s 174.8km stage included one category three climb and two first category climbs. The last climb, up to Alto de la Camperona, provided a maximum gradient of 19,5%.
A break of 32 riders was established early on in the stage and Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had both Ben King and Merhawi Kudus in the escape group. With the front group stretching its lead out to over 9 minutes, King was once again the virtual race leader. He also added to his King of the Mountains points tally, and brought his total up to 40 points to now sit 2nd overall in that competition.
As the lead group reached the final climb of Alto de la Camperona with still a 3-minute lead, Majka (Bora) was the first to attack followed by Teuns and then Kudus, who went straight over the top of the Belgian to reach the Bora rider. Our Eritrean champ seemed to go a little too hard too soon as upon reaching Majka, he soon started to falter.
Teuns eventually re-passed Kudus and joined Majka but it was the Euskadi rider who timed his effort best on the day, and leap-frogged the leading duo in the final kilometer to take the victory. Kudus was our highest finisher for the day, crossing the line in 6th place while King put in yet another solid performance to take 10th spot for Team Dimension Data, also moving himself up into 15th overall.
From the GC group, Louis Meintjes conceded just over a minute to Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and slipped 1 place to 24th overall. Thanks to our top 3 riders though, Team Dimension Data moved up to 2nd place in the teams competition.
Merhawi Kudus – Rider
We knew the break had a good chance to arrive today so our plan was to have 2 or 3 guys in the move. I followed the first moves and everyone was just jumping too so we became 32 guys in the front. It was pretty hard and fast for me, being in such a big group so I was spending a lot of energy in the break. I was really motivated to try and win the stage and I knew the last climb, having done it twice already. I just got a bit too nervous and then over excited as we hit the steep part and I closed the gap to Rafa with a big acceleration. I couldn’t keep that pace and I had a bit of an explosion. I tried to just keep going at a constant pace but in the end I came 6th. Ben was 10th as well so I am happy for the team but I will keep fighting for a stage.