AUSTRALIA’S latest road cycling headline act has done it again – and can hardly believe it, writes JOHN TREVORROW
AUSTRALIAN Michael Storer (Team DSM) dominated the large breakaway to take out another brilliant solo win on stage 10 of the Vuelta, his second in four days.
The 24 year old from Sydney is the first Australian to win two stages of the Spanish Grand Tour since Michael Matthews in 2013.
“I dreamt of one stage at this Vuelta and now I have two after 10 days. It’s truly unbelievable. Even more so than the last time,” Storer said. “There was a massive fight for the breakaway. It was one of those epic days where it took more than 80 kilometres before it went. I was happy to get in there and then I was feeling good on the last climb, and I knew exactly what I needed to do – I needed to attack.”Embed from Getty Images
Like his win on stage 7, he burst clear from talented company on the final seven km climb and managed to impressively hold off the remnants of the 31 strong breakaway group on the tricky descent to win by 22 seconds from Belgian Mauri Vansevenant (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Frenchman Clément Champoussin (AG2R Citroën), Dutchman Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers) and Norwegian Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) who has taken over the race lead.
As Storer soloed to victory, the red jersey battle erupted once more on the climb albeit 12 min in arrears. The Jumbo Visma team of race leader Primoz Roglic had decided to not chase down the breakaway and seemed happy to relinquish the leader’s red jersey. But then on the steepest gradients of the final climb Roglic attacked. He burst clear of his rivals with Movistar pair Enric Mas and Lopez plus Aussie Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) the only contenders able to stay close. The Ineos tactics seemed to have backfired. Their high speed on the climbs was intended to put Roglic under pressure, but instead provided the springboard for Roglic, resulting in Egan Bernal and Adam Yates losing time again . The Ineos Grenadiers challenge for overall victory looks in big trouble.
With a 15 km tricky descent to the finish, Roglic seemed to be pushing the limits and then disaster struck when he overcooked it and hit the tarmac. He was quickly back on his bike and seemingly uninjured and was caught by the chasing trio.
But I question Roglic’s tactics. The only way I can see the Slovenian losing this Vuelta is to crash out or crack under pressure in the final week. He certainly opened the door to both scenarios on stage 10. Sure, he has gained another 30 seconds on Bernal and Yates but his biggest challenge has looked to be the Movistar pair of Mas and Lopez and for all the effort, he gained nothing on them.
For the Aussies it was a great day. Storer taking his second victory, BikeExchange duo Nick Schultz and Damien Howson joining him in the large break and of course Jack Haig showing he is a definite podium chance.
Haig has dropped from fourth to sixth because of new leader Eiking and second placed Frenchman Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) gaining so much time in the breakaway but they are sure to drop out of contention once the real mountains start again in a couple of days time. But putting time into Bernal and Yates was very positive.
“I didn’t collaborate on the climb, I was pretty pinned. But I said when we get to the finale I’ll do my best and let’s try and put some time into these guys. They helped a little bit, but I expected more because we were distancing a champion. Every day I’m getting more confident and today was a good test again.” Haig said.