On the occasion of the fifteenth stage this Sunday, a difficult task waited for the riders from Valerio Piva and Jean-Marc Rossignon, holders of the leader’s jersey in this Tour of Spain (2.WT, 14/08-5/09). Four climbs from which two of the longest in this Vuelta were on the programme, still in temperatures over 30 degrees.
The teammates of Odd Christian Eiking were immediately called into work as numerous breakaway attempts succeeded each other in the beginning of the stage. For more than two hours, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert controlled the attacks and brought back a dangerous breakaway with Kuss and de la Cruz.
It was not before the Alto de la Centenera (15 km at 5.3%), the first climb of the day after 70 kilometer, that the breakaway was formed.Around ten riders with Simone Petilli joined forces. The rest of the team of the red jersey led the peloton on the second climb of the day, the Puerto de Pedro Bernardo (9.1 km at 5.1%), preserving the gap around 5 minutes.
Dutch rider Wesley Kreder took the lead in the long downhill toward the penultimate climb, the very long Puerto de Mijares (20 km at 5.5%). There, Czech climber Jan Hirt took over and determined the rhythm of the peloton from the first to the last meter of the climb, skimming the red jersey group to around 30 riders. Rein Taaramäe then went down first, with Louis Meintjes and Eiking in his slipstream.
Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert caught the riders from the breakaway one by one als was also reunited with Petilli in the valley towards the Puerto San Juan de Nava (8.6 km at 4%), from which the top was situated 4 kilometer before the finish, making the team the best represented squad in the red jersey group.Thanks to the perfect control, Meintjes and Eiking were able to react on the accelerations in the final hectometers of the climb. The Norwegian rider finished the stage in 6th position, within 3 minutes behind stage winner Majka, survivor of the breakaway.
On the eve of the second rest day of this Vuelta, Odd Christian Eiking stays leader of the race, 54 seconds ahead of Guillaume Martin. Louis Meintjes stayed 14th in the provisional classification. Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert will be an eighth day in red this Tuesday, on the occasion of a transition stage towards Cantabria.