Sénéchal wins the sprint after Jakobsen's flat tyre
Stage 13 was very fast, with a sprint finish and Jakobsen had a flat tyre one kilometre from the finish when his team had done a great job for him. But his team made up for it with Sénéchal's victory in the sprint.
A quiet first part: not a very promising breakaway
A flat stage with a predictable sprint finish and very few surprises. We should not denigrate these stages, without a doubt, there should be all kinds, but they lack the excitement that other days of good design, final walls, and downhill finishes are leaving us with. Even so, as we say, the script is pre-established and everyone is waiting for the last kilometre, where the victories in this type of stage are decided.
Stage 13 of La Vuelta 2021 was between Belmez and Villanueva de la Serena. One of the longest stages of this edition, with almost 204 kilometres of downhill almost constantly, so the average speed was high. Over 40 per hour the whole time, perhaps a little lower than expected.
We arrived with Eiking in red and that's how we were going to continue after a stage that only had one more winner. But even so, the breakaways didn't stop. Many riders tried, in all colours and in all ways: Rubio, Maté and Cuadros just after the start, it was a well forged breakaway that worked very hard.
The breakaway gained more than three minutes over the peloton and the rest of the favourites for the overall but also for the stage victory, so it had little chance of winning.
At kilometre 70, the lead began to drop by half a minute every five kilometres, so hopes were fading. With 100 kilometres to go, the lead was just over a minute and a half. With the gap under control, the peloton began to measure the situation. Deceuninck was pulling, but just enough to maintain the gap, waiting to close it when he felt like it. And so it happened.
Breakaway hunted and a flat tyre for Jakobsen
With 55 kilometres to go, the peloton said it was enough and the breakaway was completely deflated. They were about 20 seconds behind and Intermarché made the final push to absorb them and put an end, for yet another day, to the hope of a breakaway finish.
From then on, the biggest risk was once again an incident or crashes. The breakaway took the opportunity to hold on a little longer, Movistar and Trek were pulling without pause. So, 25 kilometres from the finish line, the breakaway died for good and we knew for sure that we would have a sprint finish. The teams with good sprinters' profiles began to talk and plan their strategy for the finish. Meanwhile, Eiking was well protected by his team and leading the peloton.
The peloton arrived near the finish line, after riding through some of the terrain left over from this summer. It was certainly a sensitive image. The heat of the day also took its toll on many of the riders.
The mountains are returning soon, where the favourites will really be playing their chances of winning the overall Vuelta 2021. But today was a different story. With 3 kilometres to go, the teams were pulling hard to filter candidates. Two roundabouts before the finish caused that, at that speed, the line was almost of a cyclist and there were small cuts.
There were a couple of kilometres to go and that break was consistent. Deceuninck kept increasing the pace more and more. Everything was looking good for Jakobsen, but suddenly he got a flat tyre one kilometre from the finish. It was very unlucky for him. But his team-mate, Sénéchal, saw his chance to win a stage in a Grand Tour. And he got it, ahead of Trentin. The general classification remains unchanged. Tomorrow, big finish in Villuercas.
- Senechal, F. (Deceuninck Quick Step) | 4:58:23
- Trentin, M. (UAE) | 4:58:23
- Dainese, A. (DSM) | +2
- Eiking, O.C. (Intermarché) | 50:31:52
- Martin, G. (Cofidis) | +58
- Roglic, P. (Jumbo Visma) | +1:56