The big favourite won the 2018 Vuelta a España’s time trial today, with the race’s red-jersey wearer Rohan Dennis (Australia/BMC) powering the fastest engine. At the top of the table, race leader Simon Yates pulled more time away from second place Alejandro Valverde and now leads by 33-seconds. Nairo Quintana and Angel Lopez had difficulty on the rolling course and the day’s biggest GC winner was Steven Kruijswijk, who is now in a podium position.
— Mitchelton-SCOTT (@MitcheltonSCOTT) September 11, 2018
The riders returned from the 73rd edition’s final rest day to face the race’s long time trial. Certainly not a flat route, the 32-km had checkpoints at the 10-km and 21.4-km marks. The most taxing hill peaked at the day’s midway point.
#LaVuelta18 resumes today with a 32km-long ITT between Santillana del Mar and Torrelavega, which has first hosted a time trial in the race 45 years ago, when Eddy Merckx took the victory. pic.twitter.com/N1uLGPvwtL
— Quick-Step Cycling (@quickstepteam) September 11, 2018
The GC Battle
There was little to separate the four main protagonists of this Vuelta coming into the day:
1) Simon Yates (Great Britain/Mitchelton-Scott) 64:13:32
2) Alejandro Valverde (Spain/Movistar) +0:26
3) Nairo Quintana (Colombia/Movistar) +0:33
4) Angel Lopez (Colombia/Astana) +0:43
5) Steven Kruijswijk (The Netherlands/LottoNL-Jumbo) +1:29
Trek’s Austrian Matthias Brändle was an early leader with a time of 40:16, but newcomer Kasper Asgreen, a Dane in Quick Step’s Wolfpack, usurped the throne with 39:07. Soon after Jonathan Castroviejo of Sky took over the best time, Dennis settled in for his long spell on the hot seat with 37:57.
— BMC Racing Team (@BMCProTeam) September 11, 2018
Canadian Antoine Duchesne posted 43:30 and a little later Michael Woods clocked 42:44 to move up one slot to 41st.
The GC Battle
Heading into the final 26-riders, only Michal Kwiatkowski couldn’t threaten Dennis’s time, but was the Pole still sore from his Stage 15 crash? Sky’s man was second fastest at the first two checks but wasn’t in a stage podium spot by the finish in Torrelavega.
According to UCI rules, Lopez started between Quintana and Valverde as the latter were from the same team. A little ahead on the road, fifth place Enric Mas (Spain/Quick Step) was having an extraordinary ride at the first check, but it was Steven Kruijswijk posting the best time at the 10-km mark.
Valverde was 3-seconds slower than Yates at Check 1, and it was clear that Quintana was losing contact with his rivals and Movistar teammate. Kruijswijk moved over Lopez and Quintana in the GC by the second check and by the end of the day was 23-seconds clear of Quintana on the podium.
Dennis won by 50-seconds. Mas moved over Lopez in the GC into fourth, four-seconds faster than Astana’s Colombian.
The GC action continues Wednesday with another summit finish on 7.2-km, 9.8% Balcón de Bizkaia.
2018 Vuelta a Espana Stage 16
1) Rohan Dennis (Australia/BMC) 37:57
2) Joey Kosskopf (USA/BMC) +0:50
3) Jonathan Castroviejo (Spain/Sky) s.t.
88) Michael Woods (Canada/EF-Drapac) +4:47
116) Antoine Duchesne (Canada/Groupama-FDJ) +5:32
2018 Vuelta a Espana GC
1) Simon Yates (Great Britain/Mitchelton-Scott) 64:52:58
2) Alejandro Valverde (Spain/Movistar) +0:33
3) Steven Kruijswijk (The Netherlands/LottoNL-Jumbo) +0:52
4) Nairo Quintana (Colombia/Movistar) +1:15
5) Enric Mas (Spain/Quick Step) +1:30
41) Michael Woods (Canada/EF-Drapac) +59:53
133) Antoine Duchesne (Canada/Groupama-FDJ) +3:19:34