Bennett - Roche: Irishmen write history at La Vuelta 19
August 26 th 2019 - 17:36
On the day after Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb) claimed La Roja in Calpe, his countryman Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) powered to victory in Alicante. The Irish National champion dominated the sprint ahead of Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) and Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott) after some intense racing on Monday. This is the first time in the race history an Irish rider wins the stage while another one leads the general classification. Roche retains his 2” lead ahead of Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team).
A 175-man pack starts from Ibi after Mickaël Delage (Groupama-FDJ) pulls out of La Vuelta 19 due to a throat infection. Three riders immediately go on the move. The Polka-dot jersey Angel Madrazo, back at the front on the day after his breakaway to Calpe, went with his teammate Diego Rubio (Burgos-BH) and their former Caja Rural-Seguros RGA partner Hector Saez (Euskadi-Murias) joined them. The three Spaniards work well together to build a gap of 6’14” after 39km.
Deceuninck-Quick Step is the first team to help Team Sunweb control the pace at the front of the bunch. They are joined by UAE Team Emirates and then Bora-Hansgrohe. The attackers’ lead is down to 3’30” after 80km of racing. Angel Madrazo takes the 3 KOM points atop the Puerto de Biar (km 116). The peloton trails by 3’17”.
Jumbo-Visma accelerate, Gaviria fades
The pack accelerates again in the valley leading to the Puerto de Tibi, where Jumbo-Visma turn the heat up. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) attacks, many riders try to counter, but Angel Madrazo manages to stay ahead to take 3 more KOM points at the summit. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) can’t keep up with this pace.
The peloton catches the last attackers with 39km to go. The tension keeps rising, with Jumbo-Visma setting a hard pace on wind exposed roads. Things remained under control and the wide straight roads in Alicante offered the perfect ground for Sam Bennett to take his 12th victory of the year, the first on a Grand Tour.