Viviani strikes first

August 27 th 2018 - 18:17

With few opportunities for sprinters to shine, Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) showed at Alhaurin de la Torre he has what it takes to win on La Vuelta. The most prolific winner of the season dominated the bunch gallop on Monday, ahead of fellow Italien sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) and World champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). The Italian champion claims his first victory at La Vuelta. Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) retains the red jersey as the leader of the general classification.

The cat-1 Puerto del Madroño attracted early attackers, including riders already at the front on day 2 with Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), Pierre Rolland (Education First-Drapac) and Hector Saez (Euskadi-Murias) going from the gun. This time, the Spanish leader of the KOM classification and his two breakaway companions were joined by Nans Peters (AG2R-La Mondiale), Jordi Simon (Burgos-BH) and Antonio Molina (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA). They enjoyed a 3-minute lead over the Sky-led peloton as they hit the first slopes of the climb, 25.5km into the stage.

A steady effort in the climb brought their lead up to 4’08’’ after 34km of racing but it never got higher than this with Elia Viviani’s Quick-Step Floors driving the bunch early in the stage to ensure a sprint. Luis Angel Mate still made the most of his day at the front, dominating Pierre Rolland atop the Puerto del Madroño as well as atop the cat-3 Puerto del Viento (km 85). The gap was already down to 2 minutes with 93 km to go.

The pack steadily closed in on the attackers, with Bora-Hansgrohe also lending a hand at the front. With a gap under 1 minute, other attackers got inspired: Victor Campenaerts and Jelle Wallays (Lotto-Soudal), Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale) attacked with 45km to go and quickly bridged the gap thanks to a strong effort from Wallays, who then dropped back to the peloton 10km further.

Jordi Simon went for a couple of unsuccessful attacks and with Victor Campenaerts crashing 23km away from the line, Lukas Pöstlberger went solo. He still enjoyed a 25’’ lead with 15km to go but was swallowed by a Movistar-led bunch with 6km to go. It was then time for Elia Viviani to show his speed and claim his 16th victory of the season.

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