pro cycling

Vuelta Espana 2019 Stage 14: Sam Bennett…freestyle

The breakaway had strained on a short leash all day, the teams keen on a sprint finish keeping control: we didn’t cart all this fast twitch muscle across the mountains of Spain for nothing, you know.

In a Grand Tour where flat roads are at a premium a stage that was lumpy, but without a classified climb, represented gold dust. The likes of Jakobsen, Gaviria, and Bennett, to the fore.

Panning the streets of Oviedo in search of glory, where the day boiled down to a single, final kilometre.

On the uphill approach to the finish a swarming effect took place. Those at the head of the race slowing slightly on the gradient, those behind sensing their chance and accelerating.

The pack bunched and spread. Something had to give. A touch of wheels, a domino effect, several dozen cyclists smeared across the street.

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Where is Roglic? Valverde? Pogacar?  

Who made it through?

About twenty riders.

Tosh Van der Sande, the likeable Lotto-Soudal man, leapt away. Richeze, Jakobsen’s lead-out man, chased, Bennett on his wheel. Three men clear. The peloton, back down the road, untangling bikes and limbs, checking for breaks and bruises.

A strange, random finish.

Three disparate riders without a known formula. Expecting a bunch sprint. Freestyling. Winging it.

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One acceleration – boom! – and Sam Bennett arced clear of the two, a five-metre lead in the space of a pedal stroke. So strong. Slightly baffled by his position; fifty metres from the line, coasting in for the win, an apologetic finger in the air celebration.

Looked easy.

Almost certainly wasn’t.

Right, Bennett’s won, what about the crash?

Cameras pan back to see carnage unravelling, riders (largely) back on bikes, GC contenders all in one piece.

A quiet day that suddenly, all at once, got very loud indeed. Just another day at the Vuelta Espana.





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