Quintana strikes back: up to second in Vuelta a España after wildly fast stage

Philippe Gilbert earns second win on 50.63 km/h day

September 11th, 2019 by | Posted in News | Tags: ,

On a day that looked suited to a straight forward bunch sprint, the Vuelta a España was shaken up by a huge breakaway that contained Nairo Quintana, Wilco Kelderman and seven Deceuninck-Quick Step riders. The Wolfpack got its due in Philippe Gilbert’s second win of the race, his first on Stage 12. After a day of 50.63 km/h full gallop over 219.6 km, the fugitives hit the line 5:29 ahead of race leader Roglič, Quintana leaping over his teammate Alejandro Valverde into second place and Kelderman becoming a podium threat.

The Course

Wind was at play on Wednesday as the route ran from Aranda de Duero to Guadalajara with plenty of hills but zero categorized climbs. There was a mild rise to the finish over the last 3 km.

The Breakaway

Forming almost immediately after the flag in Aranda de Duero, the 35-strong breakaway contained Quintana with three teammates, Kelderman with four teammates and 11th place James Knox with six members of the Wolfpack. The first two hours were pounded out at an astonishing 47.6 km/h, creating groups all over the road. Quintana put in the work at the business end of the break, which hovered around 5:30 for most of the day.

After they turned into a tailwind, the break seemed to lose impetus and Quintana entered discussion with Deceuninck-Quick Step before the Wolfpack, Sunweb and Movistar leaned into their task.

The Team Time Trial

The final 60 km was a straight up team time trial with Tadej Pogačar’s UAE-Emirates and Primož Roglič’s Jumbo-Visma toiling at the head of the red jersey group. Twelve kilometres later the gap had fallen a minute. The pace was still frantic.

Then came another odd Movistar move, as Marc Soler accelerated, taking all the Quintana-threatened riders with him and isolating Roglič. But it was Astana putting the coals to the fire. With 24 km remaining, there was still 4 km between the groups.

There were sprinters in the Quintana-Kelderman group and they would fight it out in Guadalajara. Zdeněk Štybar tried to get away with 1.6 km to go, but Sam Bennett made an early move, taking Gilbert with him. Gilbert rode the slipstream and then made the crucial move. Kelderman finished two-seconds later and Quintana crossed the line 10-seconds later.

Deceuninck also propelled James Knox into eighth from eleventh.

Thursday’s course contains four Cat. 1 climbs, but ends with a brief, moderate climb.

2019 Vuelta a España Stage 17
1) Philippe Gilbert (Belgium/Deceuninck-Quick Step) 4:20:15
2) Sam Bennett (Ireland/Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:02
3) Remi Cavagna (France/Deceuninck-Quick Step) s.t.

2019 Vuelta a España GC
1) Primož Roglič (Slovenia/Jumbo-Visma) 66:43:32
2) Nairo Quintana (Colombia/Movistar) +2:24
3) Alejandro Valverde (Spain/Movistar) +2:48
4) Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia/UAE-Emirates) +3:42
5) Angel Lopez (Colombia/Astana) 3:59
6) Wilco Kelderman (The Netherlands/Sunweb) 5:05