Team Bike Exchange rider Michael Matthews has again made the podium in Spain, ‘Bling’ finishing third for his second podium placing of this year’s La Vuelta a España
Digging in and surviving a fast pace on the final two climbs, Matthews made it to the flat run-in to the finish line and was given full support from his teammates to go all in for the stage win. But it was Magnus Cort who won the stage, his second big win of this year’s race.
Team BikeExchange came to the front with 10km to go and buried themselves, in an attempt to bring the race back together and set up the 30-year-old Australian for the sprint. With the help of UAE in the final kilometres, they were able to make the catch with just 650metres to go.
“Today was always going to be difficult,” said Matthews after the stage. “We all came together in the final and even after I was struggling on the last two climbs to get to the finish, the boys still put it all on the line for me to go for the sprint.”
“I already told the team on the first climb I wasn’t going to contest the stage today. I thought it was going to be too much for me, but I gritted my teeth and got myself over the climb and the boys said we will go for me in the sprint,” he continued.
“We just got jumped a little bit in the final from Magnus Cort, they just timed it better than I did in the sprint there, but I think all-in-all we did a really good team performance today.”
Michael Storer Wins His Second Stage
24yo Aussie Michael Storer has won his second stage of the 2021 Vuelta, the Team DSM rider going solo for a stunning victory.
Storer was the strongest rider from an impressive breakaway on the slopes of the Puerto de Almachar, where Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) also went for a strong attack prior to sliding out on a bend and crashing on the next descent. Roglic was able to remount and finish the stage. But he he lost the Red Jersey to Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux).
“(It’s) even more unbelievable than the last time,” an elated Storer told reporters after the stage.
“There was a massive fight for the breakaway. It was one of those epic days where it took more than 80 kilometres before it went. I was happy to get in there and then I was feeling good on the last climb, and I knew exactly what I needed to do on the last climb – I needed to attack.
“I didn’t have exact time gaps, but I knew it was tight. I knew I had to go fast down the descent even though it had the dry and slippery road of this region. I was happy with my descent. It was just enough to hold on. I dreamt of one stage at this Vuelta and now I have two after 10 days. It’s truly unbelievable.”
Damiano Caruso of Bahrain Victorious claimed an impressive stage win atop the Alto de Velefique, on stage 9 of La Vuelta 21, after an action-packed day in the Andalusian mountains.
On the eve of the first rest day, the Italian climber was part of the breakaway that finally emerged after 90km of battle. Caruso eventually went solo on the slopes of the Alto Collado Venta Luisa with 71km to eventually fend off the GC contenders on the final climb of the day. Second of the stage, Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) tightened his grip on the red jersey ahead of Enric Mas (Movistar Team) on the eve of the rest day. Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) struggled on the Andalusian climb.
Bahrain Victorious had three riders finish in the top-ten of the stage with Jack Haig finishing 4th and Gino Mäder 7th. In the GC battle, Haig also moved up from 7th to 4th position overall, just 1:42 behind Race Leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma)
Jakobsen’s Second Stage Win
Fabio Jakobsen powered through brisk headwinds for his second win in La Vuelta 21 on Saturday, the Dutch sprinter enjoying a dream comeback after the 2020 crash that almost ended his career.
After a perfect lead-out from his Deceuninck-Quick Step companions, he claimed victory ahead of Alberto Dainese (Team DSM) and Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix). The peloton split on some occasions but Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) survived the traps of the day to retain La Roja on the eve of a brutal mountain stage with a summit finish on the Alto de Velefique.
“To double up here means a lot to me,” said Jaboksen. “Two years ago, I took two stages at my Vuelta debut, so to repeat that feat now is just amazing! We had some hectic final 40 kilometers, with the GC teams really nervous as they jostled for position, but I had a fantastic team around me all the time and they did a great job to keep me at the front.”
“I am also delighted to have green again,” he added. “It’s the jersey every sprinter dreams about, and at the same time, a nice reward after suffering in the heat and on the climbs during Friday’s stage”, added the first Dutch rider to amass four La Vuelta stage wins before turning 25.”
Michael Storer Wins His First Grand Tour Stage
West Australian Michael Strorer of Team DSM has won Stage 6 of the Vuelta, the 24yo going solo for his first Grand Tour Stage victory.
“I didn’t expect to be a stage winner of the Vuelta today,” an elated Storer said after the podium presentation. “I knew I was in good form and I knew that I just had to have a go but I’m really happy and surprised that I managed to do it today on a really really difficult stage. I didn’t enjoy that last kilometre but now I’m starting to realise I made it and can really enjoy this victory.”
“The plan today was to be aggressive and to own the race. To be honest we really dominated the stage today and I’m so impressed with the guys. I don’t think we put one step wrong today, it was a really incredible effort. We knew coming into today that we were really well prepared and that’s really motivating. As a team we can look for more chances in this race – we don’t rest on our laurels at Team DSM and we’ll keep trying everyday.”
Top 10 After Stage 7
|1||PRIMOŽ ROGLIČ||1||JUMBO – VISMA||29H 14′ 40”||–|
|2||FELIX GROSSSCHARTNER||51||BORA – HANSGROHE||29H 14′ 48”||+ 00H 00′ 08”|
|3||ENRIC MAS||171||MOVISTAR TEAM||29H 15′ 05”||+ 00H 00′ 25”|
|4||MIGUEL ANGEL LOPEZ||174||MOVISTAR TEAM||29H 15′ 16”||+ 00H 00′ 36”|
|5||JAN POLANC||227||UAE TEAM EMIRATES||29H 15′ 18”||+ 00H 00′ 38”|
|6||EGAN ARLEY BERNAL||131||INEOS GRENADIERS||29H 15′ 21”||+ 00H 00′ 41”|
|7||JACK HAIG||44||BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS||29H 15′ 37”||+ 00H 00′ 57”|
|8||SEPP KUSS||6||JUMBO – VISMA||29H 15′ 39”||+ 00H 00′ 59”|
|9||ALEKSANDR VLASOV||31||ASTANA – PREMIER TECH||29H 15′ 46”||+ 00H 01′ 06”|
|10||ADAM YATES||138||INEOS GRENADIERS||29H 16′ 02”||+ 00H 01′ 22”|
EF Education Nippo climber Magnus Cort Nielsen Enjoyed a spectacular win as he narrowly edged out race favourite Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) on the slopes of the Alto de la Montaña de Cullera at the end of stage 6 of La Vuelta.
The Dane took his fourth victory in the Spanish Grand Tour after an all-day battle, and was the only rider from the early breakaway able to fend off the big guns. Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo) survived the many splits that occurred into the last 50km but he couldn’t hold on up the final climb. He lost the red jersey to Roglic, who now leads the overall standings ahead of three Movistar Team riders.
Fabio Jakobsen has completed one of the most inspirational comebacks in the history of the sport, the Dutchman winning a Grand Tour stage a year after the horror crash that almost ended his life.
Winning the sprint in the final 300 meters of the 163.9km stage 4 of La Vuelta, Jakobsen finished ahead of Arnaud Demare and Magnus Cort. Michael Matthews finished 5th.
“This is a dream. I want to thank my family and the team, my second family, because they are the reason I am here,” said 24yo Jakobsen.
“It’s the most beautiful victory of my career and I can’t thank everybody enough for what they did for me. It’s been a long road since last year, and to be here, a Grand Tour stage winner again, makes me incredibly happy,” he added.
12 months ago Jakobsen was taken to hospital after a sickening collision with Dylan Groenewegen during Stage 1 of the Tour of Poland. Hitting steel barriers at close to 80kp/h, the barriers collapsed and Jakobsen flew through the air and onto a commissaire prior to landing onto the roadway. A teammate assisted by opening Jakobsen’s airways as paramedics raced to the scene.
“If that man would not have been there, I would have hit the finish gantry head-first and would not be sitting here,” Jakobsen later told media. He spent two days in a medically induced coma before months of recovery and rehabilitation. Groenewegen was disqualified from the Tour and banned from the sport for 9-months.
Earlier in the 2021 Vuelta
Jasper Philipsen of Alpecin-Fenix narrowly beat Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and Michael Matthews across the Stage 2 finish line on Sunday, to add another Grand Tour success to Alpecin-Fenix’s impressive tally for 2021.
The Belgian team had already won the first sprint of the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France with Tim Merlier. This time, it was Philipsen’s turn to shine, claiming his 2nd Grand Tour stage win, a year after he already took the first one on Spanish roads. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) went safely through a windy stage to retain La Roja (the red jersey) on the eve of the first summit finish, while Alex Aranburu (Astana-Premier Tech) was chasing bonus seconds.
Michael Matthew’s said given the caliber of the other sprinters, he was happy with his Top 3 finish on the stage.
“There’s not a massive sprint field here, but the sprinters that are here are fast, so my goal was a top-three, top-five today, so we achieved that,” he said.
“We expected a harder day, we thought some of the pure sprinters might have been more tired but it ended up being a super easy day, averaging 100bpm heart-rate all day. It was a pretty stock-standard sprint day, so I am happy with the podium and tomorrow is another day.”
Tonight’s Stage 3 will see the 2021 Vuelta’s first mountain top finish, the 200km stage culminating at just under 1500m.
Primoz Roglic has won the prologue of the Vuelta a España in a convincing way. The Team Jumbo-Visma rider is also the first wearer of the red leader’s jersey of the Spanish stage race.
The Olimpid champion needed 8:32 to complete the seven kilometre time trial. With that time he was six seconds faster than number two Aranburu. Teammate Sepp Kuss was the fastest up the 1.2 kilometre climb. He now leads the mountain classification.