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Romain Bardet claims first Grand Tour stage victory in four years on Vuelta summit finish

DSM's new Frenchman also seizes mountains classification lead

Photo by: Sirotti

Romain Bardet’s first season with DSM is turning out to be a memorable one for the rider who was once France’s Great Hope to win his home tour. Bardet won a stage of the Vuelta a Burgos and took the mountains jersey in early in August, and on Saturday at the Vuelta he took his first Grand Tour stage victory in four seasons and nicked the blue polka dot jersey from Damiano Caruso on a summit finish. It was DSM’s third win of the Vuelta and second consecutive win for a Frenchman. Odd Christian Eiking retained the red jersey.

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The Course

All the categorized climbs were situated in the second half of 166 km. A Cat. 3 led to a unique Cat. 1: only 2.9 km long, the Puerto Collado de Ballesteros is 13.4 percent and its descent is part of the final climb. Back down in the valley there were a few ripples between the Ballesteros and the summit finish climb, 14.4 km, 6.3 percent Pico Villuercas.

It was a route sure to elicit a large breakaway, and sure enough, an 18-rider move shook loose early in the day. Included were Bardet, looking to take the blue polka dot jersey from Caruso; Caruso’s teammate Jan Tratnik; and Matthew Holmes. The gang pushed out a big gap on its way to the Cat. 3.

Bardet flashed out to gobble up the maximum points a close within a point of Caruso.

Bardet was on the hunt for KOM points on Saturday.

The breakaway stayed mostly intact on the formidable grades of Puerto Collado de Ballesteros.

Bardet dashed away and snaffled up the ten points, taking the mountains lead on the road. In the peloton, Jumbo-Visma led the way up and once again last year’s runner-up Richard Carapaz cracked.

By the time the fugitives reached the valley with 53 km left to race they still had a 9:30 lead and the day’s flowers would likely go to one of them. Holmes attacked with two others, but the Brit punctured.

Fugitive Jay Vine of Alpecin-Fenix suffered a bad crash when he went to take a bottle from the team car in a slight curve.

Vine comes to grief trying to take a feed from a team car.

The escape kept reforming and fragmenting in the valley.

Pico Villuercas

Nicolas Prodhomme (France/AG2R-Citroën) headed up the final climb with a minute’s gap over a chasing trio. Farther back, Bardet attacked in an attempt to link up and created a larger chase behind Prodhomme.

Just as Andrey Zeits (Kazakhstan/BikeExchange) was about to hook up with Prodhomme, Bardet came flying past both of them into the lead. Bardet’s lead over his closest pursuers was 45 seconds with 2 km remaining and he took the victory by 44 seconds. Jay Vine recovery from his earlier crash was remarkable; the Australian placed third.

Back in the peloton, second-place Guillaume Martin attacked race leader Odd Christian Eiking, looking to make up 58 seconds, but he didn’t get far.

With 3 km to the top, fifth-place Angel Lopez put in a thrust. Jumbo-Visma’s Steve Kruijswijk and Sepp Kuss worked to bring back the Colombian. It would be Roglič who nullified Lopez’s gap himself.

Sunday is another mountains test.

2021 Vuelta a España Stage 14
1) Romain Bardet (France/DSM) 4:20:36
2) Jesus Herrada (Spain/Cofidis) +0:44
3) Jay Vine (Australia/Alpecin-Fenix) s.t.

2021 Vuelta a España GC
1) Odd Christian Eiking (Norway/Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) 55:03:17
2) Guillaume Martin (France/Cofidis) +0:54
3) Primož Roglič (Slovenia/Jumbo-Visma) +1:36
4) Enric Mas (Spain/Movistar) +2:11
5) Angel Lopez (Colombia/Movistar) +3:04
6) Jack Haig (Australia/Bahrain-Victorious) +3:35
7) Egan Bernal (Colombia/Ineos Grenadiers) +4:21