August 31 st 2019 - 17:26
Nikias Arndt (Team Sunweb) powered to an impressive stage win in Igualada. The German rider dominated his 20 breakaway companions in a tense finale on wet roads while Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) claimed La Roja. The Frenchman is the new overall leader of La Vuelta 19 41 years after Bernard Hinault took the leader’s jersey in Igualada, en route to his first overall success in the Spanish Grand Tour (1978). On the eve of a gruelling mountain stage in Andorra, the peloton trailed by 9 minutes on the finish line.
It’s an open day of racing and attackers are willing to make the most of it with a hard battle for the breakaway. After 19km of hard racing, 21 riders manage to jump ahead of the bunch: Jorge Arcas (Movistar Team), Silvan Dillier (AG2R La Mondiale), Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana Pro Team), Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida), Jonas Koch (CCC Team), Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Tobias Ludvigsson (Groupama-FDJ), Carl Fredrik Hagen and Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto Soudal), Nic Dlamini (Dimension Data), David de la Cruz (Team Ineos), Ruben Guerreiro (Katusha Alpecin), Nikias Arndt and Martijn Tusveld (Team Sunweb), Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo), Sergio Henao (UAE Team Emirates), Alex Aranburu and Jonathan Lastra (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Jesus Herrada and Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) and Fernando Barcelo (Euskadi-Murias). The gap is up to 2'12" after 25km.
With Nicolas Edet being the main GC threat at the front (16th, +6’24”), Astana Pro Team set the pace at the front of the bunch. The gap stabilises around 4’20”. The attackers maintain an average speed of 44.7km/h in the first two hours to bring their gap up to 5 minutes. Nobody helps Astana set the pace in the bunch and the gap hits a new maximum of 6 minutes ahead of the climb of the day, the cat-2 Puerto de Montserrat (7.4km, 6.6%), to be summited with 27.5km to go.
Peter Stetina attacks at the bottom and opens a 26” gap. He is joined by Fernando Barcelo and Jesus Herrada at the summit. And the rest of their breakaway companions also get back 26km away from the finish. Rain pours onto the riders and attacks keep flying in the wet downhill. The peloton takes it easier and the gap increases above 7 minutes with 15km to go. More than enough for the breakaway companions to battle it out, with a thrilling string of attacks in the last 10km… until Nikias Arndt made the most of his raw power to edge Alex Aranburu and Tosh Van der Sande on the line.