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Vuelta a Espana

Fourth top 10 for Minali, day 7 in red for Eiking

The riders in the Tour of Spain (2.WT, 14/08-5/09) started the final week of the event with a transition stage towards Asturia. This sixteenth stage, with start in Laredo (Cantabria) offered a parcours suited for a bunch sprint with the Alto de Hijas (3.7km at 7.2%) as the only categorized difficulty of the day with 80 kilometer to go.

The stage of 180 kilometer was presented as flat, despite the more than 2000 meters of climbing. It didn’t prevent the sprinter’s teams to chase behind the early breakaway of six riders. In the beginning of the race, Rein Taaramäe was involved in a big crash. UAE Team Emirates tried to make use of the non categorized Alto de Cipriano (5.1 km à 4,2%) to drop some of the sprinters. Race leader Odd Christian Eiking was vigilant and well surrounded by his teammates so wasn’t caught by surprise. The acceleration brought most of the escapees back, except for Stan Dewulf who was only caught in the final kilometer. The curves in the roads of Santa Cruz de Bezana welcomed Fabio Jakobsen as the winner of a bunch sprint. Italian sprinter Riccardo Minali took a fourth top 10 thanks to his 8th place.

The Norwegian leader Eiking reached the finish without issues and will take the start of the seventeenth stage in his red jersey for the seventh day in a row. Louis Meintjes (13th) climbs one position in the general classification as a consequence of the abandon of Ciccone. This Wednesday will be a decisive day for the general classification in the heights of Asturia, with a mountain top finish on Lagos de Cavadonga (12.5 km at 7%), preceded by a double ascension of the Collada Llomena (7.6 km at 9,1%).

Even though on paper there was no big danger of loosing the jersey today, I admit that I didn't feel great after the restday. So this stage was a perfect opportunity to warm up the engine before tomorrow's hard stage. I knew the Lagos de Cavadonga and I'm convinced that the stage will be decisive for the general classification. It will certainly be a hard race from the start. I'm looking forward to it!

I'm satisfied with this 8th place, because taking into account the circumstances it was probably the best possible result. It was not my best day after the restday, so I suffered a lot in the final 50 kilometer. With my teammates doing a fantastic job again to keep Odd Eiking and Louis Meintjes in the front, I managed to sneak in the sprint. My sprint wasn't perfect, but I'm satisfied with my fourth top 10. Maybe there's another sprint chance on Saturday, bur before, I'll be with my teammates to battle for the defense of the red leader's jersey!

We knew that it wouldn't be easy to control this transition stage, and the race was nervous indeed. We gave the responsibility of the chase out of hands to the sprinter's teams, which enabled us to save some energy. We will need all of our resources in the next days! Louis Meintjes is feeling good and Odd Christian Eiking is still leading the general classification, so our ambition to finish in the top 10 is realistic. We're curious to know how Odd will pass the climbs tomorrow, because this is a whole new situation for him. We stay down-to-earth and wee'll fight till the end for this leader's jersey! 


1.Fabio JakobsenDeceuninck Quick Step4:08:57
2.Jordi MeeusBORA Hansgrohe+0
3.Matteo TrentinUAE Team Emirates+0
8.+032.+035.LOUIS MEINTJESIntermarché-Circus-Wanty+0LOUIS MEINTJES


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