Damiano Caruso touches the sky on the Alto de Velefique and Roglic consolidates his overall lead
A very demanding 188 kilometres saw Italian Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) touch heaven and glory with a great stage victory on the Alto de Velefique. Roglic held off all the attacks that came his way and consolidated his red jersey as overall leader.
The peloton flies and breakaway attempts are easily neutralised
A very hard and long stage that took place between the Murcian town of Puerto Lumbreras and the finish at the Alto de Velefique. Stage 9 had four passes: one of second category, one of first category, one of third category and with an irresistible highlight to finish, the Alto de Velefique, of special category. A total of 4,500 metres of accumulated height difference between Alto Collado, Venta Luisa, Alto de Castro de Filabres and Velefique. The last three in the second half of the stage.
Today La Vuelta a España 2021 reached one of those stages not to be missed. Lots of mountains, spectacle and a lot to decide with the expected arrival at the Velefique pass.
The first brave rider to attack was Robert Stannard at kilometre 2 of the race. Andreas Kron (Lotto), Damien Touze (AG2R-Citroën) and José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar) soon followed, but it didn't take long for the peloton to neutralise these attempts. At kilometre 10 it was Antonio Jesús Soto (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Florian Vermeersch (Lotto Soudal) and Nick Schultz (Team BikeExchange) who managed to claw 26 seconds off the peloton until they were neutralised at kilometre 29.
The peloton was flying at 50.10km/h in the first hour of the race, which made breakaway attempts very expensive until they reached the Alto de Cuatro Vientos, the first pass of the day, which would be crowned by Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) followed by Romain Bardet (Team DSM).
Damiano Caruso takes the lead and Roglic withstands all attacks
With 100 kilometres to go, Damiano Caruso (Bahrain) was to begin his heroic feat. The Italian broke away with two other Groupama riders: Olivier Le Gac and Rudy Molard. The group soon grew to 11 riders and the breakaway consolidated its lead to 3:36 minutes at the 111th kilometre of the stage.
When the lead of the head of the race was getting smaller and smaller with respect to the peloton, Damiano Caruso decided to go solo and give rise to the epic. The Italian was unbeatable and managed to crown the tremendous Alto Collado Venta Luisa. The kilometres went by and Caruso showed no signs of weakness, keeping both the peloton and the chasing groups at bay.
The ascent to the Alto de Castro de Filabres helped Caruso to extend his lead and attack the climb to Velefique leaving impressions that smelled of a stage victory with the flavour of an epic achievement. Behind, Felix Grossschartner (Bora) and second in the general classification up to this point dropped out of the favourites' group. The first to attack was Yates, but Roglic remained strong and answered with authority, something that took its toll on Bernal, although the group would eventually rejoin. Yates tried again without luck and it was Enric Mas who attacked the Slovenian.
Mas's attack left all the favourites behind, but he couldn't beat Roglic. The Slovenian stayed on the Spanish rider's wheel without showing the slightest suffering. On the finishing straight, he even sprinted past Enric Mas to gain a few seconds on him. Very solid Roglic.
Caruso, after his epic achievement during most of the stage, touched glory and reached the sky in Velefique. He was followed by Roglic and Mas at 1:05 and 1:06 respectively, who would also gain 6 and 4 seconds. Roglic consolidates his lead and Mas stays in the fight and, at the very least, consolidates his podium chances. Tomorrow is a well-deserved rest day and there is still a lot of Vuelta a España ahead.
- Caruso, D. (Deceuninck Quick Step) | 3:56:05
- Roglic, P. (Jumbo Visma) | +1:05
- Mas, E. (Movistar) | +1:06
- Roglic, P. (Jumbo Visma) | 34:18:53
- Mas, E. (Movistar) | +28
- López, M. A. (Movistar) | +1:21