The Angliru uncovers tensions in Jumbo-Visma despite a new triple in the 17th stage of La Vuelta
With the race and the podium of its three riders practically assured, Jumbo-Visma is determined to make life difficult for itself and the tensions between its three leaders begin to surface with Sepp Kuss defending the lead against the attack of his own teammates in a stage that fell on the side of Primoz Roglic in a tremendous final in which he set a pace that clearly sought to take out Jonas Vingegaard as well. The civil war within Jumbo-Visma is on.
Sepp Kuss defends the red jersey of La Vuelta at the top of the Angliru in front of his own teammates
Today came the fearsome Angliru, undoubtedly one of the toughest giants of all those climbed in professional cycling, with the permission of the monstrous Zoncolan. As in yesterday's day, a short day just 125 kilometers that started by the sea in Ribadesella and with the hardness concentrated in the last third of the stage with the chain of La Colladiella, Cordal and Angliru.
As expected, the stage started again with Remco Evenepoel, as he had promised during the rest day, as the protagonist, looking for the breakaway at all costs. A breakaway that would take more than 50 kilometers to arrive, first with a cut of 5 riders and forcing Remco to row from behind to reach what would be the final cut.
A breakaway of the day that was selected even before reaching the start of La Colladiella and in which Remco was in the lead with his teammate Mattia Cattaneo and Groupama-FDJ rider Lorenzo Germani as a guest. In fact, halfway up the climb he ended up giving way thanks to the pounding pace of the Belgian.
Behind there was an interesting movement with the unexpected attack of Marc Soler who gradually opened a juicy gap, which shot up to more than a minute despite the fact that Jumbo-Visma continued to mark its particular pace.
Between Colladiella and Cordal there was a flat liaison section where Mattia Cattaneo left all his strength and managed to open the differences of Remco with respect to Marc Soler, almost 2 minutes at the beginning of the Cordal and almost 3 with the group of favorites at that same point. A start of the Cordal where the Italian opened up after overturning for his teammate and let Remco Evenepoel fly solo towards this iconic victory that had been marked on the agenda, in fact, Remco was carried away during yesterday's stage to the point of concluding in the antepenultimate position.
For his part, Marc Soler was also leaving his teammates at the start of the climb but, without the spark of Remco, whom he could not close the gap, he began to lose ground against the group of favorites where Bahrain-Victorious had taken over from Jumbo-Visma, making the race even tougher.
In fact, at the top of the Cordal the peloton had practically chased Marc Soler while Remco maintained around 2 minutes 20 seconds, a difference that left uncertain his stage victory given the tremendous hardness of the Angliru and the tremendous wear throughout the day in the search for the breakaway. At the foot of the Angliru, by La Vega de Riosa the gap had decreased to 1:20 although it would stabilize in the first part of the Angliru despite Bahrain-Victorious redoubling the effort. In the meantime, Marc Soler was dropping out of the peloton, feeling the effort made in his unsuccessful adventure.
By Viapara, the stretch of false flat before facing the inhuman last kilometers, the income of Remco Evenepoel was already tiny and is decreasing thanks to the pace of Bahrain-Victorious, which also continues to decimate the main group. It was then that Romain Bardet's change of pace came and put the finishing touch to the Belgian rider.
Then it was the turn of Wout Poels who doubled the effort, eliminating not only a willing Bardet but also dropping Juan Ayuso and Cian Uijtdebroeks. The same happened a few meters later with Enric Mas. A Wout Poels who left everything to face the predictable attack of Mikel Landa.
But the dream of the fans to see Mikel Landa winning in the mythical Angliru could not be fulfilled. Just in the curve that marks the beginning of the brutal ramp of the Cueña les Cabres, with its maximum ramps of 23%, it was Primoz Roglic who took the lead and, without attacking, at pace, opened a meter, two, three... despite the great effort of Mikel Landa nothing he could do to close the gap.
As if that wasn't enough, at the end of the Cueña both Vingegaard and Kuss overtook the Spaniard and closed the gap to Roglic with tremendous ease while Mikel watched in amazement at the tremendous power of Jumbo-Visma.
Just as we were all preparing for an image like that Paris-Nice stage with three riders from the Dutch team crossing the finish line in unison, the unexpected happened. Roglic's pace took its toll on leader Sepp Kuss and he dropped off without his teammates making the slightest attempt to wait for him.
Kuss would cling to Mikel Landa's wheel, gritting his teeth in a heroic attempt to save the red jersey. Meanwhile, Roglic and Vingegaard went for the finish of the stage as if they had to squeeze every second, and Primoz Roglic took the win, more by skill and placement on the final descent. Sepp Kuss overtook Mikel Landa in the last meters, while apologizing for snatching the third place after sucking wheel, but he needed the bonus of that place to save in extremis the red jersey and certify a new Jumbo-Visma triplet.
For his part, Enric Mas was caught by Juan Ayuso and both crossed the finish line, with impotence etched on their faces, more than a minute and forty seconds behind the Slovenian, which puts his podium ambitions a little further away with one day to go.
Tomorrow a new mountainous stage in Asturias with the final double ascent to the Cruz de Linares and in which, in the absence of any cyclist who can overshadow the Dutch team, the attraction will be the outcome of the internal war unleashed within Jumbo-Visma despite the fact that the team is still determined to convey that there is an agreement between directors and riders so that finally the strongest rider will win.
Stage 17 Classification
- Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 3h15’56’’
- Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +00’’
- Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) +19’’
- Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) +19’’
- Wout Poels (Bahrain-Victorious) +44’’
- Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) +58’’
- Cian Uijtdebroeks (Bora-Hansgrohe) +1’20’’
- Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain-Victorious) +1’20’’
- Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) +1’42’’
- Enric Mas (Movistar Team) +1’43’’
- Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) +60h34’21’’
- Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +08’’
- Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +1’08’’
- Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) +4’00’’
- Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) +4’16’’
- Enric Mas (Movistar Team) +4’30’’
- Cian Uijtdebroeks (Bora-Hansgrohe) +6’43’’
- Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) +7’38’’
- Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) +9’26’’
- Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain-Victorious) +11’26’’