Monday 18 February 2019

There could easily have been carnage on 'goat-track' finish

Vuelta a Espana

Competitors come a cropper in slippery conditions during the second stage of Rás na Ban yesterday. Photo: Lorraine O'Sullivan
Competitors come a cropper in slippery conditions during the second stage of Rás na Ban yesterday. Photo: Lorraine O'Sullivan

Nicolas Roche

Thursday, September 6, Mondonedo to Faro de Estaca de Bares, Manon (181km).

After yesterday's stage win by my room-mate Dylan Teuns; a birthday for Joey Roskopf earned us a double celebration of cake and champagne at the dinner table last night.

An early wake-up call this morning for the two-and-a-half-hour transfer to the start saw my legs remind me of yesterday's efforts as soon as I got out of bed.

We were greeted by intermittent showers at the start, where the plan was to get in the breakaway or try to recover for the next few days.

Things dried up for the off, but there was a big crash as soon as the first attack came at kilometre zero.

I think somebody dropped their chain and about 15 guys fell.

Despite much shouting, screaming and whistling from riders, there was no stall and the attacks continued.

We began with a 2km climb, where my legs confirmed I wasn't going to be in the break today, followed by a 5km descent and another 6km climb, where Dylan made it into the 18-man move of the day.

Behind, the Mitchelton-Scott and Movistar teams of race leader Simon Yates and second-placed Alejandro Valverde bluffed each other as to who would ride after them.

After being forced to ride yesterday, Movistar played it cool today and allowed the gap to grow.

Spaniard Jesus Herrada of French team Cofidis was best-placed in the breakaway and even though he'd begun the day more than five minutes down, he was race leader on the road halfway through the stage.

The gap continued to grow to more than 11 minutes and while Herrada missed a split in the break with 25km to go and eventually finished 2'32" down on the front group containing Dylan, he still managed to cross the line nine minutes before the peloton and became the new race leader today.

Up ahead, Dylan - in his third day in the break, went one better than yesterday and took fourth on the stage on a pretty dangerous finish - downhill on a one-lane goat-track, where it was almost impossible to overtake.

I don't know if the organisers try to make things exciting or what but there were a few dodgy descents out there today and if a bigger group had come together to the final sprint it would have been carnage on that road.

Afterwards, Dylan told me that somebody from the race organisation ran out in front of his group just after they sprinted across the line.

Stage winner Alexandre Geniez of Ag2r hit the unsuspecting steward first and both he and second-placed Dylan Van Baarle hit the deck while Dylan skidded towards them and ended up riding across the pile of bodies, with the barrier the only thing stopping him from falling.

Afterwards, we had to ride 8km back to the wider road where the buses were parked and a lot of riders were asking why they didn't finish the stage there.

We have a three-hour transfer to our next hotel now, which means that after four and a half hours of racing we will be travelling in the team bus for an hour longer than we've been on our bikes today.

Irish Independent

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