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One in a Billion | Rise to the Summit
AbhishekLFC wrote:
Thanks Smile. Aru and Formolo were and a class apart. I was quite a distance behind 3rd place too! More improvement needed.

Incidentally, the last time you said something looked good on the Palmares was also this race in Austria, two seasons back, when Lotto had not picked a me for the Tour, and I went on to get a podium. Déjà vu Grin

And later in the year you won Lombardia...
Manager of [MG] Repsol - Netflix

@Kiserlovski: Thanks for that Smile. Hope to become your top favourite soon!

@Aquarius: This is not quite Il Lombardia, but...

Prueba Villafranca - Ordiziako Clasica


I was top favourite along with teammate van Dingenen to win this race in a very weak field. There were just 96 starters, the smallest peloton I've been a part of since my Roompot days. The early break consisted of three riders. We set the pace in the peloton with Tinkoff and Roompot. The break's lead was always kept at below five minutes. Inside the final 40 kilometers, the pace started picking up. With 30 km to go, many riders were already dropped from the peloton and the break's lead was down to ninety seconds. The break was caught with 20 km to go. There ensued a game of high-speed cat and mouse in the peloton, with no one willing to make the attack from so far out. I attacked with 10 km to go. Only Ruben Fernandez and Evgeny Shalunov chased. They caught up to me a kilometer later, we had 50 seconds to the peloton then. We worked well together and soon it became obvious that the race would be decided between the three of us. We passed the red kite together with no one able to shake off the others. Shalunov launched sprint with about 200 meters to go. I followed suit but Fernandez was out on his bike and couldn't. I out-sprinted Shalunov to claim my second one-day race victory of the season!


1Abhishek SinhaLotto Soudal4h04'12
2Evgeny ShalunovTinkoff-Saxos.t.
3Rubén FernándezTEAM Cepsas.t.
4Ángel MadrazoTeam Katusha+ 1'05
5Mikel IturriaTeam Katushas.t.
6Tim De TroyerLotto Soudals.t.
7Egor SilinTinkoff-Saxos.t.
8Jordi van DingenenLotto Soudals.t.
9Brad MalkinsonTeam Roompot-Oranje Pelotons.t.
10Oreste ScottaTeam Cannondale - Garmins.t.

11François BidardDecathlons.t.
12Stefan DeniflLiqui Molys.t.
13Bart De ClercqLotto Soudals.t.
14Ricardo GarcíaTeam Katushas.t.
15Milan VeltmanTeam Roompot-Oranje Pelotons.t.
16Sergey ShulgaLotto Soudals.t.
17Nicolas RocheTinkoff-Saxos.t.
18Jesús EzquerraIberdrolas.t.
19Isaac BolívarTeam Katushas.t.
20Omar FraileTeam Katushas.t.
21Carter JonesTeam Cannondale - Garmins.t.
22Garikoitz BravoIberdrolas.t.
23José HerradaIberdrolas.t.
24Rafael VallsTinkoff-Saxos.t.
25Karel HníkLiqui Molys.t.
26Juan Manuel PuntasIberdrolas.t.
27Hector SaezTeam Katushas.t.
28Miguel Angel BenitoTEAM Cepsas.t.
29Jesús Del PinoIberdrolas.t.
30Peter VelitsIberdrolas.t.
31Jasper OckeloenTeam LottoNL - Jumbos.t.
32Guiseppe LottaroliTinkoff-Saxos.t.
33Patrick FacchiniTeam Cannondale - Garmins.t.
34Miguel MínguezKaikus.t.
35Elden BoatengTeam LottoNL - Jumbos.t.
36Erik DrevikTeam LottoNL - Jumbos.t.
37Andrey LukoninTinkoff-Saxos.t.
38Alex HowesTeam Cannondale - Garmins.t.
39Sjors RoosenTeam LottoNL - Jumbos.t.
40Nans PetersDecathlons.t.
41Tibor KozakTeam Katushas.t.
42Chris MortierDecathlons.t.
43Luis LargoTEAM Cepsas.t.
44Antonio MolinaTEAM Cepsas.t.
45Ezequiel GrandiKaikus.t.
46Igor MerinoKaikus.t.
47Maxime CamDecathlons.t.
48Ivan RovnyTinkoff-Saxos.t.
49Yuma KoishiBurgos - BH+ 2'22
50Damiano CarusoLiqui Molys.t.
51Tony PozniakLotto Soudals.t.
52Arnau SoleBurgos - BHs.t.
53Winner AnaconaIberdrolas.t.
54Jon Andoni Martínez RuizBurgos - BHs.t.
55Thomas DamuseauDecathlons.t.
56Egoitz GarcíaKaiku+ 3'50
57Erlantz FeansKaikus.t.
58Niels GoereeTeam LottoNL - Jumbos.t.
59Ludovico PerlottoTeam Cannondale - Garmins.t.
60Romeo PisciottaTEAM Cepsas.t.
61Marc GoosTeam LottoNL - Jumbos.t.
62Dejan KokotTeam Roompot-Oranje Pelotons.t.
63Ander ArranzTEAM Cepsas.t.
64Nikodemus HollerLiqui Molys.t.
65Víctor de la ParteTEAM Cepsa+ 4'31
66Lucian OpreaTeam Roompot-Oranje Peloton+ 5'28
67Travis MccabeTeam Roompot-Oranje Pelotons.t.
68Jimmy DuquennoyLotto Soudals.t.
69Aser EstévezBurgos - BHs.t.
70Jesús HerreroDecathlons.t.
71Jon Remigio Díaz de OlarteTEAM Cepsas.t.
72Marc GarbyKaikus.t.
73Timo RoosenTeam Cannondale - Garmins.t.
74Juan Carlos Orueta IbarrolaIberdrolas.t.
75Pascal AckermannLiqui Molys.t.
76Moritz BackofenLiqui Molys.t.
77Matthieu BouloBurgos - BHs.t.
78Mannase LaudTeam Cannondale - Garmins.t.
79Enaitz AbadKaiku+ 6'21
80Luis Ángel MatéBurgos - BHs.t.
81Cees BolTeam LottoNL - Jumbos.t.
82Robin CarpenterTeam Cannondale - Garmin+ 7'42
83Michael MarasekTeam Roompot-Oranje Pelotons.t.
84Boy Van PoppelTeam Roompot-Oranje Pelotons.t.
85Miguel HugetBurgos - BHs.t.
86Sérgio PardillaTinkoff-Saxos.t.
87Pedro AñónKaikus.t.
88Wilfried GalloDecathlons.t.
89Julien SimonDecathlons.t.
90Tobias KnaupLiqui Molys.t.
91Serge PauwelsLotto Soudals.t.
92Julio ÁlvarezTeam LottoNL - Jumbos.t.
93Artem NychTeam Katusha+ 9'25
94Nolberto LópezLiqui Molys.t.
95Isidro BillabonaBurgos - BH+ 11'10
96Dylan Van ZijlTeam Roompot-Oranje Peloton+ 13'44

Curse lifted!! Three top 10s for Lotto as well!
AbhishekLFC wrote:
Incidentally, the last time you said something looked good on the Palmares was also this race in Austria, two seasons back, when Lotto had not picked a me for the Tour, and I went on to get a podium. Déjà vu Grin

Embarassed I didn't remember that. In any case, an achievement to be proud of. And immediately followed by another, too!
Time to get the White in TDF - before getting too old. Wink
Brilliant win in Osterreich Rundfahrt. Grin
@Ripley: Yup, two in a row Grin

@Tamijo: One last chance next year before I outgrow that classification! Thanks Smile
Decisions, Decisions!

- A Het Nieuwsblad Report

Following his back to back wins in the Int. Osterreich Rundfahrt and Prueba Villafranca - Ordiziako Clasica, the big question in the peloton now is what will be Abhishek Sinha's next move. He is in the final year of his contract with Lotto. The team management have expressed an interest in re-signing him but there has been nothing coming out of the rider's camp so far. This silence is being taken as a sign that all is not rosy between the employer and their employee.

Although Sinha now has a General Classification victory under his name, he is yet to prove himself completely in the World Tour. A couple of podium finishes is all he has achieved so far. His performances in the Grand Tours have been inconsistent, with most in the cycling world unsure as to how close he can get to cycling's biggest prizes. He has age on his side for sure, not many have won a Grand Tour while still eligible for the Under-25s classification. Despite this, and despite the rider's self-confidence about his targets, there is still a lingering doubt about his credentials.

What happens next is anyone's guess, but no one will be surprised if this contract saga drags on till the end of the window. Sinha is scheduled to ride in Burgos later this week as a preparation race for the Vuelta, which is his primary target for the season. We might get some answers then.


"Conveniently forgot about Lombardia, didn't they?", I remarked to myself, as I read the e-paper on the team bus.
Edited by AbhishekLFC on 01-08-2017 06:59

The lead up to the Vuelta passes through my usual route, a detour in the Burgos province of Spain.

Vuelta a Burgos

Nairo led the team, in his last stage of the year, a funny decision given he wasn't due to start in the Vuelta. I wondered whether he was planning to start the Vuelta, having failed to win the TDF. Never a dull moment, is there?! I was given a free role but I knew it wouldn't be feasible for me to try breakaways early on. It would be more of playing the waiting game again.

Stage 1 saw one member of the day's break survive by half a minute and take the stage win. Sean de Bie took 2nd place for us while I managed 5th on the uphill finish.

Sean de Bie, a Stage 2 favourite was dropped well before the line. It was a bad day for us, with only Nairo was unable to keep himself with the lead group. I too lost more than a minute at the finish. Despite this, I only dropped to 8th in the GC.

Stage 3 was mostly flat with another hilly finish. Lotto did a lot of chasing to catch the six man break. I was at the head of the pack on he last climb. de Bie got into a good position in the flat following the descent and won the stage. Nairo came in 7th, with me just a position behind. I held my GC position while Nairo moved up to 10th.

Stage 4 saw the break hold on till the fag end of the race. I attacked with 8 km to go, but lasted ahead of the peloton for just a kilometer. The break was finally caught with 3 km to go. The bunch sprint decided the finish.

Stage 5


Nairo was the top favourite for this stage. I was among the stage favourites too. The ten man break had a maximum of six minutes on the peloton. At the base of the fifth climb of the day, the peloton was down to around fifty riders. At the bottom of the sixth climb, the break was down to a single rider, with a two and a half minute lead, being chased by a forty rider peloton. With 6 km to go, the break was down to 30 and the break had a fifty second lead. The break was caught a kilometer later and Nairo attacked immediately, followed by two others. I was in the fourth group on the road with 1.5 km to go. I was tired by the finish, and managed 11th on the day. Nairo won the stage but could not overtake Pantano for the GC. I missed the top 10 of a stage race after a long time.

General Classification

1Jarlinson PantanoTeam Roompot-Oranje Peloton18h26'15
2Nairo QuintanaLotto Soudal+ 1'15
3Matvei MamykinTinkoff-Saxos.t.
4Alberto ContadorTEAM Cepsa+ 1'34
5Jeffrey PerrinTeam Cannondale - Garmins.t.
6Carlos VeronaTeam Sky+ 2'04
7Tejay Van GarderenAstana Pro Team+ 2'18
8Hector SaezTeam Katushas.t.
9Tony PozniakLotto Soudal+ 3'15
10Tilegen MaidosAstana Pro Teams.t.

11Abhishek SinhaLotto Soudal+ 3'39
12Jonathan CastroviejoTeam Sky+ 3'42
13Vincenzo NibaliAstana Pro Team+ 4'25
14Nicolas RocheTinkoff-Saxo+ 4'50
15Diego RubioTEAM Cepsa+ 6'09
16Björn ThurauTeam Roompot-Oranje Peloton+ 6'17
17Serghei TvetcovLiqui Moly+ 6'43
18José RamellaAstana Pro Teams.t.
19Bakhtiyar KozhatayevAstana Pro Team+ 6'57
20Christopher Juul-JensenTeam Europcar+ 7'50
21Francesco BongiornoTeam Cannondale - Garmin+ 7'58
22Peter StetinaTeam Cannondale - Garmins.t.
23Nick Van Der LijkeIberdrola+ 9'25
24David De la CruzTeam Sky+ 9'26
25Ulf HausweilerLiqui Moly+ 9'38
26Pim LigthartTeam LottoNL - Jumbo+ 10'09
27George PreidlerIberdrolas.t.
28Sean De BieLotto Soudal+ 10'33
29Vitaliy ButsTEAM Cepsas.t.
30Alberto GallegoTinkoff-Saxo+ 10'43
31Mathias Rask JeppessenTeam Cannondale - Garmin+ 11'51
32Óscar GonzálezIberdrola+ 12'24
33Lukas LöerTeam Sky+ 13'24
34Matteo RabottiniTeam Cannondale - Garmin+ 13'25
35Romain HardyTeam Europcar+ 14'28
36Marc GarbyKaiku+ 15'13
37Brayan RamírezBurgos - BH+ 15'39
38Oreste ScottaTeam Cannondale - Garmin+ 16'32
39Mikel BizkarraTEAM Cepsa+ 16'49
40Tobias WauchLiqui Moly+ 17'25
41Eddie DunbarTeam LottoNL - Jumbo+ 17'49
42Lucian OpreaTeam Roompot-Oranje Pelotons.t.
43Juan José LobatoTeam Katusha+ 18'36
44Hamish SchreursKaiku+ 18'44
45Patrick FacchiniTeam Cannondale - Garmin+ 19'11
46Marco HallerLiqui Moly+ 20'20
47Federico PozzettoTeam Katushas.t.
48Raymond KrederTeam Katushas.t.
49Markus FreibergerLiqui Molys.t.
50Alexandr KominTeam Katusha+ 20'44
51Boy Van PoppelTeam Roompot-Oranje Pelotons.t.
52Stepan AstafyevTeam Roompot-Oranje Pelotons.t.
53Garikoitz BravoIberdrola+ 20'54
54Antonio MolinaTEAM Cepsa+ 21'20
55Giangesuino OngaroTeam Europcar+ 21'21
56Karel HníkLiqui Moly+ 21'44
57Juan Carlos Orueta IbarrolaIberdrola+ 22'12
58Stéphane PoulhièsTeam Europcars.t.
59Malte HoersenLiqui Moly+ 22'47
60Alexander EvtushenkoTeam Katusha+ 23'01
61Garry AtkinsTeam Sky+ 23'11
62Jonathan DibbenTeam Sky+ 23'17
63Travis MccabeTeam Roompot-Oranje Peloton+ 23'19
64Jesús EzquerraIberdrola+ 23'24
65Jon Ander InsaustiKaiku+ 23'35
66Matteo MalucelliAstana Pro Team+ 23'53
67Sérgio PardillaTinkoff-Saxo+ 24'05
68Johannes Christofel NelKaiku+ 24'20
69Valerio AgnoliAstana Pro Team+ 24'32
70Araik StorozhukTinkoff-Saxo+ 24'46
71Leigh HowardLotto Soudal+ 25'00
72Bert-Jan LindemanTeam LottoNL - Jumbo+ 25'17
73Elmar ReindersTeam Roompot-Oranje Peloton+ 25'19
74Jarl SalomeinLotto Soudal+ 25'23
75Guiseppe LottaroliTinkoff-Saxo+ 25'44
76Oleg SavchenkoAstana Pro Team+ 26'03
77Mikhail AkimovTeam Katusha+ 26'14
78Ibai SalasBurgos - BH+ 26'55
79José HerradaIberdrola+ 27'24
80Ben KingTeam Cannondale - Garmin+ 27'39
81Anton VorobyevTinkoff-Saxo+ 27'53
82Jens GeerinckLotto Soudal+ 28'05
83Flavien DassonvilleTeam Europcar+ 28'39
84Jon Andoni Martínez RuizBurgos - BH+ 28'51
85Ximo ElaTinkoff-Saxo+ 29'15
86Jasper BovenhuisTeam LottoNL - Jumbo+ 30'04
87Romain CombaudTeam Europcar+ 30'08
88Miguel HugetBurgos - BH+ 30'15
89Luke DurbridgeTeam Sky+ 30'21
90Nino HonighTeam LottoNL - Jumbo+ 30'37
91Juan Manuel PuntasIberdrola+ 31'01
92Egoitz GarcíaKaiku+ 31'02
93Miguel MínguezKaiku+ 31'26
94Niels GoereeTeam LottoNL - Jumbo+ 32'25
95Enaitz AbadKaiku+ 32'43
96Matthieu BouloBurgos - BH+ 32'48
97Luis Ángel MatéBurgos - BH+ 35'06
98Isidro BillabonaBurgos - BH+ 35'49
99Dylan Van ZijlTeam Roompot-Oranje Peloton+ 36'25
100Jon AberasturiKaiku+ 37'17
101Cees BolTeam LottoNL - Jumbo+ 37'23
102Andrés VigilBurgos - BH+ 38'48
103Etienne FabreTeam Europcar+ 40'31
104Andrea GuardiniTEAM Cepsa+ 40'33
105Miguel Angel BenitoTEAM Cepsa+ 41'45
106Tim De TroyerLotto Soudal+ 42'00
107Jonas TenbrockLiqui Moly+ 43'22
108Ron AalbersTeam Katusha+ 43'28
109Benoit DubrulleTeam Europcar+ 46'01
110Julius van den BergTeam LottoNL - Jumbo+ 46'39
111Luis León SánchezTEAM Cepsa+ 56'37

Points Classification

1Jarlinson PantanoTeam Roompot-Oranje Peloton71
2Sean De BieLotto Soudal45
3Anton VorobyevTinkoff-Saxo44
4Juan José LobatoTeam Katusha42
5Nick Van Der LijkeIberdrola37

Mountain Classification

1José RamellaAstana Pro Team55
2Juan Carlos Orueta IbarrolaIberdrola54
3Nairo QuintanaLotto Soudal33
4Jarlinson PantanoTeam Roompot-Oranje Peloton31
5Jasper BovenhuisTeam LottoNL - Jumbo24

Young Riders Classification

1Tony PozniakLotto Soudal18h29'30
2Abhishek SinhaLotto Soudal+ 24
3Mathias Rask JeppessenTeam Cannondale - Garmin+ 8'36
4Lukas LöerTeam Sky+ 10'09
9Oreste ScottaTeam Cannondale - Garmin+ 13'17

Team Classification

1Lotto Soudal55h26'54
2Astana Pro Team+ 1'04
3Team Sky+ 1'54
4Tinkoff-Saxo+ 4'45
5Team Cannondale - Garmin+ 7'23

Not the ideal preparation race for the Vuelta. I don't know what the team were thinking having me ride without support before my target race. I'll need to have a word with them soon. We definitely need to sort out some priorities.
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Stupid management - showing of the big "gun" rather than looking at the longer perspective.

No kidding. And he's not even going to the Vuelta!
Maybe it's time to move out of Lotto... you have to find a team where you are the absolute leader for GC
Manager of [MG] Repsol - Netflix



It's been a busy fortnight...

Date: 9th August, 2020. Sunday.
Time: 11 AM

The discussion with the team management got a little heated. I made my feelings known to them in no uncertain terms. I was right, Nairo had indeed asked to team ride in Burgos to test if he had the legs for the Vuelta. The team management had duly obliged. Bad news for me and the chance of a good preparation lost. I had time on my hands they said. Maybe you plan your star's season better I retorted. I left in a hurry before I said something I'd regret.

Date: 9th August, 2020. Sunday.
Time: 6 PM

"You busy, boss?" asked a voice I had grown so accustomed to hearing.
"Good news or bad?, I replied.
"Mostly good. You have five offers on the table. Are you interested?"
"Anything from Lotto?"
"Yes. They want to keep you. They're offering you the most."
I couldn't help but smile. So this is their way of appeasing me, I thought.
"You there boss?"
"What about the others?"
"MTN and Orica have offered you outright Grand Tour leadership. But they can't match what the others are offering."
"Who else?"
"Cepsa and Sky are offering you the chance to be their leader for one week races."
"I've told you Jan, no Grand Tour, no deal."
"I thought you'd say that. I've kept the best one for the end. Stella Artois are offering you the chance to lead in two GTs. You will have Dumoulin and Barguil as teammates, among others. You will be replacing Pinot who is moving to Tinkoff. I believe they hold you in high regard."
"I'm interested. Hold on to the Stella offer."
"For how long?"
"Till at least after the Vuelta"
"I'll do my best. Good day boss."
"I know you will. Bye Jan."

Date: 19th August, 2020. Wednesday.
Time: 4 PM

Team Presentation


Date: 19th August, 2020. Wednesday.
Time: 4:30 PM

"Hello boss."
"Jan, I'll sign with Stella tomorrow.
"If you're absolutely sure, I'll have everything ready tomorrow morning."
"Thank you Jan."
"Something new has popped up with Stella that I think you should know."
"What is it?"
"They'll have a new sponsor next year."
"I don't care Jan. As long as the management and the offer is the same."
"Sure boss."
"I'll see you tomorrow."
"Yes you will. Bring a pen that works."
"Bye Jan."

Date: 21st August, 2020. Friday.

Sinha signs with Duvel
- A Marca Report

The team management of Stella Artois cycling team, who will be sponsored by Duvel next season, announced the signing of Indian cyclist Abhishek Sinha for the 2021 season in a press conference late last night. The timing of the announcement is extremely surprising given that we are on the eve of the Vuelta a Espana, where Sinha leads the Lotto Soudal team.

This announcement is sure to raise some eyebrows and we can only speculate as to what the situation is like in the Lotto team bus. There have been reports of a sponsor discontinuation for the team, and this latest development will surely not help them attract a new one.

Stella Artois, more famous in their previous avatar of Quick-Step, already have the likes of Dumoulin, Alaphilippe and Barguil in their ranks. They are losing Pinot to Tinkoff, and Sinha has been drafted in as a long term replacement. Unlike Lotto, they have already secured their future by signing on Duvel as their new sponsor for the 2021 season. The details and duration of the sponsorships is not yet known but should become clear in the coming days...

I made up my mind to leave Lotto when I saw our start-list for the Vuelta. Absolutely no support on the climbs. I didn't even want an explanation. This was the last straw. I will be riding for Stella Artois, sorry Duvel, next season and challenging for bigger and better things. That's the plan anyway...
Good news the time with lotto was clearly turning in a wrong direction.
Some good teammates on Quick Step (sorry) hope it will be a good time there.

Nb: just a one year ?
Yes, just a one year deal. In fact, all the offers that I received were one year deals. The teams probably want to test me out before they commit for the longer term. Understandable on their part I guess.
Vuelta a Espana

It felt weird on the start line. The same riders I had got to know so well over the past two and a half years, now seemed to have become distant. I knew I had not helped their cause by making this announcement the day before. I clenched my teeth and carried on. I didn't have a lot I could say. Not that preparations left me with a lot of time for chit-chat. The DS called me over at the start of the day and made it clear that I'd be on my own. There would be no protection offered. This was literally going to be every man for himself for us. I shrugged and went away to get myself registered.

Stages 1 - 5

I didn't have high hopes for the TTT on Stage 1 and that expectation was met. We finished over a minute down on stage winners Tinkoff. Like in most GTs before this, I was playing catch up to my competitors.

Stage 2 was categorised as flat, but there were quite a few areas where the road rose and fell. A break of four was allowed to go away only after the first intermediate sprint. They built up a seven minute lead and for some time it looked like they might survive. After frantic chasing, the break was caught inside the last kilometer. The pace was extremely high in the last thirty kilometres. Four of my teammates could not stay with the peloton. I stayed safe as Geuens picked up the win.

Stage 3


The first differentiator did not disappoint. Having stayed with the pack. The first attacks were launched on the third climb. I could not follow and decided to go at my own pace instead. I lost a lot of time in the process, riding mostly alone. I managed 12th on the stage, but lost more than three minutes to stage winner Sergio Henao. I did move up to 13th in the GC.

Stage 4


Another tough stage in the first week. The break built up a lead of five minutes but did not survive till the end. This time, I did manage to follow the attack from the other riders. I tried to launch my own attacks a couple of times but could not get away. The reduced bunch finished together despite the steep gradients.

Stage 5 had peloton go over four uncategorised climbs. The pack split on the scond hill and then again on the third but none of the GC favourites were affected. I did a lot of work trying to get rid of some riders, but it did not work out. A bunch of around 50 riders reached the line together, where Demare sprinted to victory.

GC after Stage 5

1Sérgio HenaoOrica-GreenEDGE15h48'18
2Ilnur ZakarinSwissair+ 44
3Peter SaganTinkoff-Saxo+ 49
4Ion IzagirreTEAM Cepsa+ 56
5Daniel MartinTinkoff-Saxo+ 2'32
6Arnaud DuteilTeam Giant-Alpecin+ 2'38
7Cameron MeyerDrapac Professional Cycling+ 5'48
8Dayer QuintanaColombia+ 5'51
9Cyril GautierTeam Europcar+ 5'53
10Carlos VeronaTeam Sky+ 6'14
13Abhishek SinhaLotto Soudal+ 7'17

To be continued...
Let's hope it was the right move, leader in two GTs is a lot of pressure. And you're already on the back foot again in the Vuelta, probably should have tried harder to stay with the top guys on stage 3.
@Ripley: I could see the situation in this race repeated again and again if I stayed at Lotto. The move allows me to experience something new. Their mountain support is definitely stronger. Their TT squad is stronger too. If it doesn't work out, it's just a year long deal, so I can look elsewhere again. Not ideal, but not much I can do!

Didn't have the legs on stage 3. Haven't peaked yet.
Vuelta a Espana

Stages 6 - 11

Stage 6


The early break was caught at the base of the intermediate climb. At the top, the select group was down to forty. Ion Izagirre and Dan Martin attacked out of the group with me and Bongiorno following. We caught up with the others but I eventually dropped back to the chasing group. Martin won the stage ahead of Izagirre and Bongiorno. Sergio Henao gained a few seconds to the bigger group. I finished 8th on the day, losing 30 seconds. I gained two places in the GC.

Stage 7 was flat and won by Sagan. Theuns got 3rd place for us.

Stage 8


The break was caught before the category 2 climb but there were no attacks from anyone on the ascent. Three riders attacked on the descent but two were caught very soon. I could not stay with my rivals once again, losing three minutes to stage winner Zakarin. The Russian took the lead in the GC. Despite my losses, I moved up to 10th in the GC.

Stage 9 was a gradual downhill with a small climb just before the finish. A select group of 20 riders reached the finish together with Sergio Henao taking the sprint victory. No time gaps were recorded at the top.

Stage 10 was another flat stage. The early break consisted of 26 riders, which soon came down to 19. With 90 km to go, the break was just a single riders. Dan Martin fell with around 50 km to go and lost three minutes to the peloton. He managed to recover with the help of a couple of teammates. The break was caught with 15 km to go. Danny Van Poppel won the sprint. Theuns finished 7th for us.

Stage 11


The ITT was a chance for me to get back some time to those around me. The course was favourable and I wanted to take full advantage. I crossed the first intermediate 13 seconds down on the best time. In the seconds time check, I was in the lead. At the finish, I was two second shy of Moser's best time! Zakarin, the last starter, blitzed the field, consolidating his lead in the GC. Ion Izagirre finished with the same time as Moser, which meant I finished 4th on the stage.

GC after Stage 11

1Ilnur ZakarinSwissair36h19'49
2Ion IzagirreTEAM Cepsa+ 2'08
3Sérgio HenaoOrica-GreenEDGE+ 4'18
4Peter SaganTinkoff-Saxo+ 7'57
5Daniel MartinTinkoff-Saxo+ 9'23
6Arnaud DuteilTeam Giant-Alpecin+ 11'16
7Abhishek SinhaLotto Soudal+ 11'20
8Rafał MajkaTEAM Cepsa+ 11'42
9Cyril GautierTeam Europcar+ 11'43
10Dayer QuintanaColombia+ 12'31

Fine comeback at the hilly ITT, a GC top 5 could be possible if all turns out right.
Top 5 definitely within reach now Grin
Vuelta a Espana

I write this report from the second rest day of the Vuelta.

Stages 12 - 15

I felt the effects of my effort in the ITT on Stage 12. The early break was caught with 20 km left. The pace picked up and I couldn't handle it. I gradually got distanced from the pack and lost just over a minute to stage winner Vuillermoz.

Stage 13 was flat. The early break consisted of of five riders. Four of them were caught 2 km from the line but Adriano Malori survived to take the stage win.

Stage 14


Four climbs and the MTF awaited us on this stage. The early breaks were briyght back each time. A strong break of seven, including Oomen and Rolland, were allowed to get away after the first climb. We lost a teammate with Roelandts abandoning after a fall on the second climb. The peloton was down to around ninety on the fourth climb. The big casualty of the day was Sergio Henao who was dropped on this climb and didn't recover. Dayer Quintana made the first attack but was quickly brought back by the good work of Leigh Howard. I missed the decisive attack of the GC leaders but chased at my own pace. Sagan and Dan Martin were distanced early on the climb to the finish. I started making up the places and caught back to everyone in GC contention barring Zakarin, Vuillermoz and Sepulveda. I ended up 7th on the day, with Penven winning from the break. I moved up to 5th in the GC.

Stage 15


de Gendt joined the strong nine man break. Two more riders joined up with the break before the first climb. The peloton was down to less a hundred riders on the first category climb. de Gendt and a couple more from the break fell back to the pack with 20 km to go, before the climb to the finish started. Once again, I held my steady pace as the attacks started. For some time, I lost my bearings as to who was going forwards and who backwards and just kept pedalling at a high gear. I kept jumping from wheel to wheel, barely looking up to see who I was following. I made my way back to within two minutes of the stage winner, Mads Theodorson, once again from the day's break. Zakarin clocked the same time, two minutes ahead of me. When I looked at the timing screens a couple of minutes after finishing, I was shocked to see I had moved up to 3rd in the GC. All those wheels I had been traversing had been of my rivals, struggling a whole lot more than I was!

GC after Stage 15

1Ilnur ZakarinSwissair53h10'35
2Ion IzagirreTEAM Cepsa+ 7'21
3Abhishek SinhaLotto Soudal+ 15'32
4Alexis VuillermozAg2r La Mondiale+ 15'37
5Peter SaganTinkoff-Saxo+ 16'37
6Daniel MartinTinkoff-Saxo+ 17'16
7Eduardo SepulvedaTinkoff-Saxos.t.
8Dayer QuintanaColombia+ 17'41
9Rafał MajkaTEAM Cepsa+ 18'07
10Arnaud DuteilTeam Giant-Alpecin+ 19'11

I am now within sniffing distance of my first podium. The last week of racing remains.

To be continued...
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