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VUELTA’21 Stage 9: Caruso Crushes the Velefique!

Another Big Day in the Spanish Mountains

Vuelta Stage Report: Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) showed the peloton a clean pair of heels to solo to victory on the twisting climb of the Alto de Velefique. Behind the Italian, Primoz Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) consolidated his overall lead attacking with Movistar’s Enric Mas on the final climb.

The final K for Caruso

The mountain stage 9 to the Alto de Velefique was won by Damiano Caruso. After 188 kilometres, the Bahrain Victorious rider, who was part of the break of the day, was first to the top of the tricky 13 kilometre climb. Primož Roglič along with Enric Mas, rode away from the other GC men on the final climb.

Stage 9 Profile

Technical director, Fernando Escartín: “Very tough, pure mountain stage. Over 180km with slopes totalling almost 4500m and a similar layout to the stage won by Ryder Hesjedal in 2009: Alto Collado Venta Luisa, Alto de Castro de Filabres and Velefique, all of them concentrated in the second-half of the stage.”

Another day in red for Roglič

A tough day ahead

It took a long time before a leading group managed to take any time. Lotto Soudal was very active, first Florian Vermeersch in an escape attempt and later Silvain Moniquet. However, all they all failed, partly because the riders had the wind against them at times. After 90 kilometres 11 riders managed to make the ‘break of the day’.

Lots of fans at the Sign-on presentation

Sivakov and Roglič getting ready for the off

Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious), Romain Bardet, Martijn Tusveld (DSM), Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo), Olivier Le Gac, Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ), Rafal Majka (UAE Team Emirates), Lilian Calmejane (AG2R Citroën), Ángel Madrazo (Burgos-BH), Julen Amezqueta (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Robert Stannard (BikeExchange) got together after the climb of the Alto de Cuatro Vientos. Wout Poels took the KOM points. The leading group quickly took a 3 minute lead from the Jumbo-Visma led peloton.

The start

On the cat-1 Alto Collado Venta Luisa (29km at 4.4%) it was INEOS Grenadiers who lifted the pace, which thinned out the main peloton. Up front; Caruso rode away from the leading group, dropping Amezqueta, Bardet, Tusveld and Majka by 1:30, while the GC riders were at 2 minutes. Those were the differences at the top of the Collado Venta Luisa, with 55 kilometres to go to the finish. On the descent, Caruso extended his lead even further.

The first break of the day – Antonio Jesus Soto (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Florian Vermeersch (Lotto Soudal) and Nick Schultz (Team BikeExchange)

In the short Alto de Castro de Filabres (7 km at 3.9%) Caruso had a two minute lead on the Bardet group, where Tusveld had to let go. In the pack, INEOS Grenadiers stopped chasing, leaving Jumbo-Visma to take command. The Dutch team pushed the pace and gave Geoffrey Bouchard space when he attacked. The Frenchman managed to make the connection with Bardet and co after a nice climb. At the foot of the final climb, that group faced a gap of more than three minutes on Caruso.

No water under that bridge

Bike riders under this one

The GC group started the Alto de Velefique (13.2km at 6.4%) 5 minutes behind Caruso. Jumbo-Visma had no reason to chase hard behind the Italian and the riders in-between. INEOS Grenadiers wanted to turn up the volume, first Dylan van Baarle and then Pavel Sivakov put on the pressure, which was at the expense of Mikel Landa of Bahrain Victorious.

Dry around here

Heading south for some more hot days

The first serious attack came 10 kilometres below the summit from Adam Yates. Miguel Ángel López and Sepp Kuss jumped on his wheel. At the 9 kilometre banner, Primož Roglič counter attacked. He was soon across to Yates and López’s group, with Enric Mas in tow. Egan Bernal struggled to keep up with the acceleration, but rejoined at his own pace.

The peloton through the sprint in Tíjola with 87km to go

The pace was high

Yates, Bernal, Roglič, Mas and López had the best legs, but they let a chasing group return. Richard Carapaz was next from the INEOS camp to attack, but that attempt was also countered. Caruso still had 3 minutes in hand. Yates then put in another attack, after which it was López who launched Mas and Roglič up the road. They caught Yates and immediately left.

The big break of the day – Lilian Calmejane (AG2R-Citroën), Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious), Angel Madrazo (Burgos-BH), Julen Amezqueta (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Olivier Le Gac, Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ), Robert Stannard (BikeExchange), Romain Bardet, Martijn Tusveld (DSM), Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo) and Rafal Majka (UAE Team Emirates) opened a gap of 2:27 at km 98

Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) was alone at the front with 70km to go

The Jumbo-Visma leader initially left Mas on the front, but eventually started to work with the Movistar rider. He hoped that this would put his other competitors at a greater disadvantage. A group with Yates, López, Jack Haig and an in trouble Bernal followed at about 20 seconds. Australian Haig, Bahrain Victorious’s best placed climber, was able to pull away from that group.

Romain Bardet was collecting KOM points

INEOS and Jumbo controlled the peloton

Damiano Caruso, who won a stage and came second in the Giro d’Italia earlier this year, rode a solo of more than 70 kilometres and had more than a minute left at the finish on the red jersey wearer Roglič. Caruso finished a long breakaway brilliantly and took his second stage win in a Grand Tour.

Caruso had over 5 minutes on the peloton at the start of the final climb

The Bardet/Majka group were 3:30 behind Caruso

Roglič sprinted away from Mas in the last 100 metres to take second place and the six bonus seconds. Mas had to make do with third place and four seconds bonus. The group with Haig, López and Yates followed at about 40 seconds from Roglič. Well behind that, Gino Mäder, Giulio Ciccone and Egan Bernal crossed the line.

Action to come on the Alto de Velefique

There were happy faces in the Jumbo-Visma camp, as Roglič extended his lead in the overall standings to 28 seconds on the new second placed rider, Enric Mas. Miguel Ángel López is now third at 1:21. Haig is fourth at 1:42, while Egan Bernal is fifth at 1:52 going into the first rest day.

Caruso was out front in the dry heat for a long time – 71 kilometres

Stage winner, Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious): “71km alone at the front, it’s a lot! I went only because I knew Ineos was setting a very hard tempo. I told myself I’d attack before they catch my group. I thought the gap was bigger than it really was. What I did brought me an amazing feeling. It’s incredible for me to achieve this after the Giro. The last climb was so long. I knew it was getting tight. I focused on my own tempo. When we did the last few kilometres, I realised I had a chance to win. I feel sorry for Mikel Landa who has had some difficulties today. We had the two goals to ride for GC and the stage win. I kept my tempo to win. I thank all the fans who have kept supporting me after the Giro. Moreover I thank my family with this victory.”

A stunning win for Caruso

Overall leader and 2nd on the stage, Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma): “We deserve the rest day. It was a hard day. Again it was super hot, with some big climbs so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Our guys did a great job. Ineos put a hard pace on the long climb and in the end it was quite fast, a big explosion. Luckily, I had good legs and I could finish it. Enric [Mas] was super strong today. We arrived together. It’s the beginning. Now we have the rest day and we need to stay in one piece with the full team and I’m looking forward to the next stages.”

A good days work for Roglič

Vuelta a España Stage 9 Result:
1. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious in 5:03:14
2. Primoz Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma at 1:05
3. Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar at 1:06
4. Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious at 1:44
5. Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Movistar
6. Adam Yates (GB) INEOS Grenadiers
7. Gino Mäder (Swi) Bahrain Victorious at 2:07
8. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 2:10
9. Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) INEOS Grenadiers
10. David de la Cruz (Spa) UAE Team Emirates at 2:40
11. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma
12. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 2:43
13. Louis Meintjes (RSA) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux at 2:45
14. Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) AG2R Citroën at 3:39
15. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech at 3:48
16. Fabio Aru (Ita) Qhubeka NextHash
17. Juan Pedro Lopez Perez (Spa) Trek-Segafredo
18. Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Movistar
19. Mikel Nieve Iturralde (Spa) BikeExchange at 3:56
20. Felix Grossschartner (Aut) BORA-hansgrohe at 4:16
21. Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux at 5:04
22. Mark Padun (Ukr) Bahrain Victorious
23. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain Victorious
24. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis
25. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 6:20.

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 9:
1. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma in 34:18:53
2. Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar at 0:28
3. Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Movistar at 1:21
4. Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious at 1:42
5. Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) INEOS Grenadiers at 1:52
6. Adam Yates (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 2:07
7. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 2:39
8. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma at 2:40
9. Felix Großsschartner (Aut) BORA-hansgrohe at 3:25
10. David de la Cruz (Spa) UAE Team Emirates at 3:55
11. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech
12. Gino Mäder (Swi) Bahrain Victorious at 4:00
13. Louis Meintjes (RSA) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux at 4:05
14. Fabio Aru (Ita) Qhubeka NextHash at 4:36
15. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 5:35
16. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain Victorious at 5:47
17. Juan Pedro Lopez Perez (Spa) Trek-Segafredo at 5:52
18. Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates at 7:40
19. Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux at 9:10
20. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis at 9:39
21. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) INEOS Grenadiers at 10:57
22. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 11:24
23. Rémy Rochas (Fra) Cofidis at 18:09
24. Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Movistar at 20:14
25. Rafal Majka (Pol) UAE Team Emirates at 21:14

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