Vuelta a Espana 2018

August 25 - September 16, Malaga, Spain, Road - GT

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Patrick Fletcher

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'Like Ventoux': Vuelta a Espana contenders braced for La Covatilla - Stage 9 Preview

Vuelta a España hub page

Start list

Stage 8: Valverde beats Sagan in uphill sprint

Podcast: Vuelta analysis, Aqua Blue fallout, Cavendish's future

 

 

 

  1. 11:53:43 CEST

    Hola buenos dias! 

     

    It's a big, big day at the Vuelta. Stage 9. La Covatilla. This is one of the hardest days of the whole race and certainly the most decisive stage so far. We've seen glimpses of who's going well and who's not, but this hors-catégorie summit finish in western Spain will see the picture become much clearer. It may still be the first week, but this is one of the major GC rendez-vous. Anticipation is building at the start in Talavera de la Reina - we'll have every inch of the stage covered right here.

  2. 11:54:08 CEST

    Here's what's in store

     

  3. 12:00:09 CEST

    While the final riders are signing on, complete your own pre-race preparations with a read of our stage 9 preview. Our Spanish correspondent Alasdair Fotheringham has spoken to a few people to see what might be in store, including Dan Martin, who was victorious the last time a Vuelta stage finished at La Covatilla in 2011. Somewhat ominously, he likens it to Mont Ventoux...

     

    'Like Ventoux': Vuelta a Espana contenders braced for La Covatilla

     

  4. 12:02:05 CEST

    And, for no other reason other than it's a cool pic, here's Martin climbing with Vincenzo Nibali back in 2011. Both are here again today, along with Bauke Mollema, who moved into the overall lead that day. 

     

     

  5. 12:03:28 CEST

    It's almost time for the start!

  6. 12:04:43 CEST

    This is how things stand overall, rather generously extended to include 25 riders...

     

    1 Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 31:20:34
    2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:37
    3 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:48
    4 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:51
    5 Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:59
    6 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky 0:01:06
    7 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:11
    8 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:01:14
    9 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:01:18
    10 Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 0:01:23
    11 George Bennett (NZl) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:01:26
    12 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:01:27
    13 Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:28
    14 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 0:01:29
    15 David De La Cruz (Spa) Team Sky 0:01:34
    16 Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors 0:01:46
    17 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:02:50
    18 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:03:08
    19 Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 0:03:25
    20 Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:03:56
    21 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:04:28
    22 Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain-Merida 0:04:45
    23 Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:04:50
    24 Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team 0:05:07
    25 Louis Meintjes (RSA) Dimension Data 0:05:35

     

  7. 12:05:24 CEST

    We're moving. The riders have rolled out of Talavera de la Reina and are currently making their way through the neutralised zone. 

     

  8. 12:08:26 CEST

    The riders are currently bunched up behind the race director's car. There are some pulling alongside and even some nudging in front. Expect a big fight for the break today.

     

  9. 12:13:03 CEST

    Here we go! Javier Guillen emerges from the sunroof...

  10. 12:13:42 CEST

    We've gone through KM0 but Guillen hasn't waved it underway. Peter Sagan, we're hearing, has punctured...

     

  11. 12:14:40 CEST

    I suppose you have to wait for the world champion

     

  12. 12:15:51 CEST

    Sagan is in no hurry as he makes his way up through the cars

     

  13. 12:17:05 CEST

    Sagan reaches the back of the pack. Here we go.

     

  14. 12:17:33 CEST

    They're off!

     

    As soon as Sagan clips on, the red car zooms off the front, and the race is underway.

     

  15. 12:18:10 CEST

    First rider on the move, rather predictably, is Luis Angel Maté, who wears the blue and white spotted jersey as leader of the mountains classification. Plenty of points on offer today.

     

  16. 12:19:38 CEST

    Thomas De Gendt is also up there. It's always a good sign if you find yourself in a break with him. (I obviously don't say that through experience but I imagine it to be the case).

     

  17. 12:19:51 CEST

    Lots or riders keen to get involved here. 

     

  18. 12:20:36 CEST

    Around 12 riders have a small gap over a strung-out peloton.

     

  19. 12:21:49 CEST

    Another chase group of around 12 has been pegged back and the peloton continues full whack. 

     

  20. 12:22:22 CEST

    The leading group with Maté is pulling away.

     

  21. 12:24:40 CEST

    Mollema is in there, along with Teuns, Leezer, Hollenstein, Van Bilsen. Full list to come.

     

  22. 12:25:22 CEST

    The peloton bunches up now. They seem content to let this breakaway go up the road. 

     

  23. 12:28:49 CEST

    Here are the 11 escapees

     

    Luis Angel Maté (Cofidis)

    Kenneth Van Bilsen (Cofidis)

    Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo)

    Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing)

    Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal)

    Ben King (Dimension Data)

    Reto Hollenstein (Katusha-Alpecin)

    Tom Leezer (LottoNL-Jumbo)

    Luis Mas (Caja Rural)

    Aritz Bagues (Euskadi-Murias)

    Jesus Ezquerra (Burgos-BH)

     

  24. 12:29:20 CEST

    Toilet stops all round in the peloton as the break is allowed to head up the road. Two minutes is the gap and that will continue to grow.

     

  25. 12:30:24 CEST

    After around 35km the road will start climbing. First up is the Puerto del Pico, a first-category ascent of 15.3km at 5.5%. 

  26. 12:35:57 CEST

    Problem for the race leader Molard. He whips off his shoe and it looks like a cleat problem as he grabs a multi-tool and makes some adjustments. 

     

  27. 12:44:04 CEST

    There are some interesting names in this break. Obviously Maté will be going all in for the KOM points and has a teammate with him in Van Bilsen. Mollema is a rider who can challenge for Grand Tour podiums but is stage hunting here, while Ben King has already won from the break at this Vuelta, on a summit finish no less. And then there's Thomas De Gendt and you don't need to say much more about him. Leezer and Hollenstein make it a decent WorldTour participation while Mas, Ezquerra, and Bagues make sure all the Spanish Pro Conti teams - and indeed, with Cofidis, all the wild card teams - are represented. 

     

  28. 12:45:45 CEST

    From a GC perspective, King is the best-placed rider, and perhaps that's why the gap isn't yawning out (it's only 3:20 at the moment). The Dimension Data man is just 6:34 down on Molard. Next best-placed is Mollema at 12:48, while none of the others are within half an hour. 

  29. 12:50:34 CEST

    Molard's FDJ teammates are in a line on the front of the bunch and the pace is pretty zippy. They're not chasing hard but they're putting a shift in, clearly unwilling to allow this breakaway much leeway. 

     

  30. 12:54:51 CEST

    In case you missed yesterday's action (it is the weekend, after all), here's our stage 8 report, with all the usual results and photos etc. It was a snoozy day but an exciting finale, with Valverde beating Sagan in an uphill sprint. 

     

    Vuelta a España: Valverde wins stage 8 in Almaden

     

     

  31. 12:57:38 CEST

    The road is rising gently ahead of the official start of the Puerto del Pico. 

     

  32. 13:01:01 CEST

    Crash at the back of the peloton. Loic Chetout (Cofidis) is on the deck in the gutter, while Mickael Cherel (AG2R is really banged up). 

     

  33. 13:01:32 CEST

    Cherel is back on his feet, thankfully. His jersey is ripped to shreds but he swings his leg over his bike and gets going again. 

     

  34. 13:04:47 CEST

    Cherel hangs onto the medical car as he gets his wounds patched up. 

     

  35. 13:05:13 CEST

    Meanwhile FDJ continue their work at the head of the peloton. 

     

  36. 13:12:17 CEST

    The breakaway riders are climbing and are currently negotiating the gentler gradients on the opening phase of the Puerto del Pico. 

     

     

  37. 157km remaining from 200.8km

    13:17:29 CEST

    On the lower slopes of the climb the gap has extended to 4:20. 

     

  38. 13:25:40 CEST

    Have you listened to our latest podcast? 

     

    It contains Vuelta analysis, along with discussion of Aqua Blue's demise and Mark Cavendish's uncertain future. Here's the link you need.

     

  39. 13:34:35 CEST

    The 11 breakaway riders are all still together as they come into the final 3km of the the Puerto del Pico and the panoramic views get better and better. 

     

  40. 13:38:25 CEST

    The gap back to the peloton has increased to 5:11. FDJ are still on the front, setting a modest tempo. 

     

  41. 13:41:03 CEST

    Maté leads the break into the final kilometre of the climb. We can probably expect him to be sprinting in sight of the banner.

     

  42. 13:44:20 CEST

    There goes Maté as the banner comes into view. It's not the most intense scrap but the Spaniard grabs maximum points to extend his KOM lead. Mollema and King were also up there.

  43. 13:44:58 CEST

    The group split in two in sight of the line but they're about to join back up on the descent. 

     

  44. 144km remaining from 200.8km

    13:45:55 CEST

    It's only a very short descent before the road heads uphill again for the second climb of the day, the Cat-3 Alto de Gredos. 

     

  45. 13:46:36 CEST

    A reminder of the stage profile

     

     

  46. 13:48:04 CEST

    FDJ lead the peloton over the top of the Puerto del Pico, 5:23 in arrears.

     

  47. 13:49:18 CEST

    The Alto de Gredos begins for the 11 leaders. It's 10.1km long but with a modest average gradient of 3.7%. 

     

  48. 13:50:10 CEST

    KOM results at Puerto del Pico (km 52.3)


    1. Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), 10 pts
    2. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) 6 pts
    3. Ben King (Dimension Data) 4 pts
    4. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), 2 pts
    5. Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), 1 pt

     

  49. 13:52:50 CEST

    In terms of the provisional overall KOM standings, my calculations are as follows:

     

    1 Luis Angel Maté (Cofidis) - 42 pts
    2 Pierre Rolland (EF Education First-Drapac) - 20
    3 Benjamin King (Dimension Data) - 16
    4 Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) - 12   
    5 Ben Gastauer (AG2R La Mondiale) - 7
     

     

  50. 13:57:00 CEST

    Loic Chetout now gets some attention from the doctors. The back of his skinsuit is almost completely ripped, leaving his back exposed to the beaming sun. There's also some pretty bright road rash on his back and hip, which he's currently getting patched up properly. 

     

  51. 135km remaining from 200.8km

    14:02:05 CEST

    The situation remains stable on this second climb. The break are working well together and FDJ are still keeping a lid on things 5:25 behind. 

  52. 14:04:02 CEST

    After this climb there's a Cat-2 ascent followed by a tricky descent and a long spell in the 'valley' - though the roads aren't exactly flat. Those roads should ensure that the movement from the GC contenders is reserved exclusively for the final climb to La Covatilla. 

     

  53. 14:10:30 CEST

    Another shout, for those tuning in late, for our preview of today's big summit finish at La Covatilla. 


    'Like Ventoux': Vuelta a Espana contenders braced for La Covatilla

     

     

  54. 14:11:00 CEST

    We're heading for the crest of the Alto de Gredos, and another fight for KOM points. 

     

  55. 131km remaining from 200.8km

    14:12:23 CEST

    It's more hotly contested this time but it's the same three riders in the mix. Maté grabs the maximum once again, with a photo finish between Mollema and King for second place. 

     

  56. 14:14:28 CEST

    KOM results at Alto de Gredos


    1. Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), 3 pts
    2. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) 2 pts
    3. Ben King (Dimension Data) 1 pts

     

  57. 14:15:00 CEST

    The stil-FDJ-led peloton is still 5:25 behind the 11 leaders. 

     

  58. 14:22:06 CEST

    After two hours of racing the average speed is 35.3km/h. 

     

  59. 14:29:49 CEST

    Movistar in the peloton.

     

     

  60. 115km remaining from 200.8km

    14:32:57 CEST

    Time for the next climb! This is the third in this sort-of trio, and the last test ahead of the march to the foot of La Covatilla. 

     

    Peña Negra

    Category 2

    13 kilometres

    4.5%

     

  61. 14:38:54 CEST

    The breakaway riders continue to stick together on this climb. They're aware of the roads that separate this from the final climb and realise that numbers is probably their greatest strength for the time being. 

     

  62. 14:49:46 CEST

    Here's Molard stopping to fiddle with his cleats earlier

     

     

  63. 14:52:05 CEST

    Sagan is dangling at the back of the peloton on this Cat-2 climb.

  64. 14:53:23 CEST

    Antoine Duchesne takes over the pace-making for FDJ but it's pretty relaxed out there as he fetches some supplies from a musette. 

     

  65. 106km remaining from 200.8km

    14:53:36 CEST

    The gap extends slightly to the six-minute mark. 

     

  66. 14:58:09 CEST

    Into the final 2km of the climb for the break and they've found another half a minute. 6:30 is the gap. 

     

  67. 14:58:48 CEST

    As the clock nudges up, Ben King is inching closer to the virtual overall lead of the race...

     

  68. 14:59:56 CEST

    And there it is. 6:36 now, and that means that if the stage were to finish now, King would be in red. 

     

  69. 15:03:24 CEST

    Here comes the top of the climb...

     

  70. 15:03:32 CEST

    De Gendt accelerates

     

  71. 102km remaining from 200.8km

    15:05:17 CEST

    De Gendt opens it up and Mate quickly responds. Weirdly, De Gendt looks round and waves him through, and Mate indeed gladly comes through for the points. As the descent begins, De Gendt comes up and pats Mate on the back. 

     

  72. 15:07:41 CEST

    KOM result at Puerto de Peña Negra (km 98)


    1. Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis) 5pts
    2. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) 3pts
    3. Ben King (Dimension Data) 1pt

     

  73. 15:09:13 CEST

    Mate therefore extends his lead in the mountains classification. Here's how it stands:

     


    1. Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis) 60 pts
    2. Pierre Rolland (EF-Drapacl) 20pts
    3. Ben King (Dimension Data) 18 pts

     

  74. 15:13:41 CEST

    Long, fast descent now, and it looks like a fun one. 

     

  75. 92km remaining from 200.8km

    15:14:00 CEST

    A reminder of the profile

     

     

  76. 81km remaining from 200.8km

    15:27:06 CEST

    Just over 80km left now as the road tilts back uphill following that descent, which was negotiated safely by all. The gap between the break and peloton has extended again and now stands at 6:45.

     

  77. 15:28:15 CEST

    The peloton come through the feed zone and that's going to knock a bit more pace out. 

     

  78. 15:34:32 CEST

    'Put purely and simply, Sunday is crunch time for Colombia’s Miguel Angel López'

     

    So writes Alasdair Fotheringham in this story on the Colombian. What can he do today? (Lopez that is - not Fotheringham)

     

  79. 72km remaining from 200.8km

    15:41:01 CEST

    Hope building for the break

     

    The easing of the pace post-feed zone has allowed the gap to the break to stretch out to nearly 9 minutes. FDJ are still on the front but hardly exerting themselves at the moment. 

     

  80. 15:50:14 CEST

    If the break does make it to the foot of La Covatilla, it'd be hard to bet against Bauke Mollema. He came close on stage 5 but this summit finish is a better chance for the Dutchman. Ben King has obviously already won a summit finish at this Vuelta and is clearly in great form. Thomas De Gendt has to be a contender, having won on the Stelvio in the Giro d'Italia and Mont Ventoux at the Tour de France.

     

  81. 15:54:20 CEST

    Predictions please

     

    Who's your pick for the stage win today? Let me know via Twitter @paddyfletch

     

  82. 16:03:31 CEST

  83. 55km remaining from 200.8km

    16:04:42 CEST

    55km to go and the gap isn't getting any smaller. FDJ are still on the front, and no other teams seem interested in helping them bring back this break. It's nearly up at 10 minutes now.

     

  84. 16:11:08 CEST

    Puncture for Luis Mas in the break but the Caja Rural rider gets back in.

  85. 50km remaining from 200.8km

    16:13:15 CEST

    50 to go now and the gap is still up at 9:40. It's not a done deal yet but it's looking very good for the break. 

     

  86. 16:21:41 CEST

    André Greipel has just won the opening stage at the Tour of Britain, beating Caleb Ewan - the rider who will replace him at Lotto Soudal next year. 

     

  87. 43km remaining from 200.8km

    16:22:49 CEST

    Movistar have now put a rider on the front of the peloton. Finally. That's the first time a non-FDJ rider has done some work. 

     

  88. 40km remaining from 200.8km

    16:26:10 CEST

    Duchesne is back on the front for FDJ, with most of the Movistar team tucked in behind. The gap isn't coming down, however - 9:45.

     

  89. 16:34:25 CEST

    Ben King must now be starting to think about the possibility of the red jersey. He's currently 3:25 up, provisionally, on Molard, though Valverde - second overall at 37 seconds - might be the bigger threat. 

     

  90. 16:35:25 CEST

    Movistar are on the front now but not bringing the gap down. The Spanish squad have the ability and strength in depth to dominate the final climb, and this could be an important day for Quintana. 

     

  91. 16:36:55 CEST

    Another GC squad we should talk about is LottoNL-Jumbo. They shredded the bunch on the Puerto de Alfacar on stage 4, with youngster Sepp Kuss putting in a big turn. There were no attacks from George Bennett this day but will we see the black-and-yellow jerseys imposing themselves again today? 

     

  92. 16:37:57 CEST

    As I write that, Team Sky punch their way through to the head of the bunch. One of the big questions at this Vuelta so far is whether or not Kwiatkowski can be considered a genuine GC contender. Today should provide an answer. 

  93. 16:43:18 CEST

    Team Sky's emergence sees the gap to the break start to fall. 8:50 is the latest check. 

     

  94. 30km remaining from 200.8km

    16:44:04 CEST

    De Gendt attacks!

     

    The Belgian senses the moment and accelerates hard on an uphill kick

     

  95. 16:44:45 CEST

    King is straight on it. Mollema, too. Teuns, Ezquerra, and Mas all make their way across. 

     

  96. 16:45:25 CEST

    De Gendt perhaps knew he had to do something. Sky are really upping the tempo in the peloton and the gap is now just 7:45. 

     

  97. 16:45:39 CEST

    Hollenstein now drags himself across to make it six out front. 

     

  98. 16:45:51 CEST

    Movistar have taken over from Sky and the charge continues. 

     

  99. 16:47:22 CEST

    The peloton has finally woken up. King surely won't be in red at the end of the day. It's far from certain the break will contest stage honours. 

     

  100. 26km remaining from 200.8km

    16:48:34 CEST

    A reminder of the stage profile. The final climb to La Covatilla officially begins with 9.8km to go, but as you can see the road starts rising well before that. 

     

     

  101. 16:50:49 CEST

    Alasdair Fotheringham, who has driven the final climb up to the press room, informs us that there's a big pinchpoint coming with 20km to go, so in a few km's time. And it's steep there, too. A bit later there's a sketchy descent ahead of the final climb. 

     

  102. 16:52:06 CEST

    The approach here is actually a little different to when la Covatilla last featured in 2011. More details - plus insight from Dan Martin and others - in our stage preview. 

     

    'Like Ventoux': Vuelta a Espana contenders braced for La Covatilla

     

  103. 16:52:47 CEST

    Bauke Mollema, incidentally, finished second behind Dan Martin on that day in 2011, and took the red jersey from Joaquim Rodriguez. More happy memories in store at La Covatilla for the Dutchman?

     

  104. 16:54:35 CEST

    There's talk of a headwind on the latter part of the climb, which is exposed. If so, that could deter attacks. 

     

  105. 16:55:09 CEST

    De Gendt accelerates again and Hollenstein struggles.

     

  106. 16:56:12 CEST

    The six leaders are back together as the road gets really steep.

     

  107. 16:57:47 CEST

    Team Sky are back on the front as the gap comes down to 7 minutes.

     

  108. 16:59:14 CEST

    Mate has made his way across to the six leaders. 

     

  109. 16:59:40 CEST

    Luis Mas attacks from the break now as the pace eases. King sets off in pursuit.

     

  110. 17:00:30 CEST

    De Gendt leads the rest, refusing to panic for the moment. 

     

  111. 18km remaining from 200.8km

    17:02:34 CEST

    King and Mas hit some cobbled streets as the road rises through a small village. This is the pinch point I mentioned. The streets are very narrow. 

     

  112. 17:02:49 CEST

    King drops Mas.

     

  113. 17:03:26 CEST

    Fans step out from their front doors to cheer the riders on. These roads are ridiculously narrow and steep.

     

  114. 17:03:58 CEST

    This is all good for the break, but it's going to be a tricky one for the peloton. Teams will want to be well positioned. 

     

  115. 17:05:05 CEST

    King comes out of the town centre and back onto the smooth tarmac and wider roads. He must be feeling strong today to go solo from this far out. Still 7km to go until the official start of the climb.

     

  116. 17:05:27 CEST

    Astana hit the front of the peloton now.

     

  117. 17:08:20 CEST

    A reminder of the overall standings ahead of this big showdown

     

    1 Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 31:20:34
    2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:37
    3 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:48
    4 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:51
    5 Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:59
    6 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky 0:01:06
    7 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:11
    8 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:01:14
    9 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:01:18
    10 Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 0:01:23
    11 George Bennett (NZl) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:01:26
    12 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:01:27
    13 Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:28
    14 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 0:01:29
    15 David De La Cruz (Spa) Team Sky 0:01:34
    16 Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors 0:01:46
    17 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:02:50
    18 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:03:08
    19 Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 0:03:25
    20 Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:03:56
    21 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:04:28
    22 Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain-Merida 0:04:45
    23 Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:04:50
    24 Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team 0:05:07
    25 Louis Meintjes (RSA) Dimension Data 0:05:35

     

  118. 17:08:44 CEST

    Astana lead the peloton onto those cobbled, narrow, steep streets.

     

  119. 17:09:46 CEST

    It's pretty much two abreast here as Astana continue on the front. 

     

  120. 17:10:42 CEST

    Kwiatkowski is well-positioned in third-wheel, but without any teammates in the immediate vicinity. 

     

  121. 13km remaining from 200.8km

    17:11:21 CEST

    King is still solo on the approach to the climb, with just 3km to go. The peloton is 6:10 in arrears.

     

  122. 17:12:30 CEST

    Mas has been caught so we have six riders - De Gendt, Mollema, Teuns, Mas, Mate, Hollenstein - in pursuit of King.

     

  123. 17:13:03 CEST

    King nearly misjudges another tricky corner as the road ducks downhill. 

     

  124. 17:13:21 CEST

    King has found 1:10 on his breakaway companions!

     

  125. 17:13:59 CEST

    De Gendt drifts off the back of the chase group but he's getting back in now.

     

  126. 17:17:57 CEST

    King continues to extend his lead. 1:25 now. He gets a bottle from his team car. He could get a fine for that given it's in the last 15km but that will matter little if it helps him win the stage. 

     

  127. 17:18:29 CEST

    In the peloton Sivakov slides out on one of those tricky corners. 

     

  128. 9.8km remaining from 200.8km

    17:18:48 CEST

    The climb to La Covatilla begins for King

     

  129. 17:19:14 CEST

    Luis Mas accelerates from the chase group behind. 

     

  130. 17:20:04 CEST

    Team Sky take over from Astana once again. It's Castroviejo, with Kwiatkowski sitting second wheel. 

     

  131. 17:21:19 CEST

    Mollema has taken up the chase, dropping Mas. 

     

  132. 17:22:11 CEST

    Mollema's head is bobbing, while up the road King has his arms folded over his bars, treating this HC climb like a TT. 1:20 is the gap as Mollema starts to peg him back.

     

  133. 17:23:02 CEST

    The early kilometres are the easiest, and that explains King's position. He won't be able to do that when it hits double digits. 

     

  134. 17:23:15 CEST

    Here's how the climb looks on paper

     

     

  135. 7.1km remaining from 200.8km

    17:23:50 CEST

    This is looking good for Mollema. He has reduced the gap to 1:05. 

     

  136. 17:24:38 CEST

    King is grimacing. Going that early was always going to be a risk. It could pay off handsomely, but could also backfire. 

     

  137. 17:25:35 CEST

    The peloton begin to climb now. They're 5:49 down on King at the front of the race.

     

  138. 17:26:43 CEST

    Bora appear at the head of the peloton. Buchmann is third overall, 48 seconds down on Molard and 11 seconds down on Valverde. He has Rafal Majka setting things up for him at the moment.

     

  139. 17:27:09 CEST

    King starts weaving on the double-digit gradients. This is a much tougher ascent than Alfacar on stage 4. 

     

  140. 6.1km remaining from 200.8km

    17:27:47 CEST

    Mollema is bobbing all over the place, sweat dripping from his face. He looks more uncomfortable than King but he's still drawing closer. 50 seconds now, with 6.1 to go.

     

  141. 17:28:16 CEST

    The GC men are sitting tight in the peloton on the gentle lower slopes.

     

  142. 17:29:12 CEST

    King is in trouble now. His head is waving from side to side and his face contorted into a permanent grimace. He weaves across the road before steadying himself again.

     

  143. 17:30:11 CEST

    It's clear that King is nearing the end of resources but has he timed it perfectly? He gambled by going early but gave himself a headstart of 1:30. At the moment, it looks like it might leave him just short. 

     

  144. 17:30:42 CEST

    Molard dropped

     

  145. 17:31:21 CEST

    His FDJ teammates have been on the front all day but Molard loses contact now and it looks like he'll be handing over that red jersey at the end of the day. Pinot is still in contention for FDJ.

     

  146. 17:31:31 CEST

    Zakarin dropped again too.

     

  147. 17:31:58 CEST

    Still it's Majka on the front of the peloton as it thins out, with compatriot Kwiatkowski lurking behind.

     

  148. 5km remaining from 200.8km

    17:32:19 CEST

    5km to the summit for King and still Mollema closes. 30 seconds is the gap now.

     

  149. 17:33:00 CEST

    Molard has lost 35 seconds so far. 

     

  150. 17:33:33 CEST

    The peloton is now becoming more of a 'GC group' as Majka's work continues to enforce a natural selection.

     

  151. 4.3km remaining from 200.8km

    17:34:33 CEST

    King digs in. He hasn't lost any time in the last 0.7km.

  152. 17:35:38 CEST

    Simon Yates is moving up towards the front of the GC group, being guided by Haig. For LottoNL Kuss is there again for Bennett.

     

  153. 17:36:07 CEST

    Quick-Step's young Spaniard Enric Mas is dropped now, too.

     

  154. 17:36:23 CEST

    Around 25 riders left in the GC group.

     

  155. 3.7km remaining from 200.8km

    17:36:54 CEST

    Up front the pursuit continues, and this is a nail-biter!

     

    3.7 to go and it's down to 21 seconds.

     

  156. 17:37:29 CEST

    Here's the finale. It gets easier towards the end, which will help King...

     

     

  157. 17:38:03 CEST

    No attacks just yet from the GC men.

     

  158. 17:38:38 CEST

    Molard is drifting all the time and is now 1:15 down on the GC contenders.

     

  159. 17:38:55 CEST

    Majka pulls over. Huge turn from the Pole. WIll we see attacks now?

     

  160. 2.8km remaining from 200.8km

    17:39:23 CEST

    The roads are exposed up near the top of La Covatilla. King is digging in and holding Mollema at 19 seconds. 

     

  161. 17:40:01 CEST

    Mollema is running out of ground here and needs to close those last seconds sooner rather than later. 

     

  162. 17:40:25 CEST

    20 left in the GC group. 

     

  163. 17:41:07 CEST

    The road very much flattens out now with just over 2km to go and King may believe once more. He even finds a few more seconds! 20 now!

     

  164. 17:41:36 CEST

    Kuss hits the front of the GC group now. What a prospect he is.

     

  165. 2km remaining from 200.8km

    17:42:08 CEST

    Last 2000 metres for King. It looks like he's on his way to a second stage win! Extraordinary stuff.

     

  166. 17:42:37 CEST

    Mollema's still bobbing but can't bring the gap back under 20 seconds. It looks like another second place for the Dutchman. 

     

  167. 1.5km remaining from 200.8km

    17:43:25 CEST

    King looks behind and sees Mollema. It's still in the balance but these gentler gradients are seeing the metres tick by a little quicker.

     

  168. 1.3km remaining from 200.8km

    17:43:45 CEST

    Mollema sprints out of the saddle, giving it one last roll of the dice.

     

  169. 17:44:06 CEST

    Kuss dances on the pedals out of the saddle. Bennett is tucked in behind. No attacks yet...

     

  170. 17:44:33 CEST

    King is in a world of pain, but he's heading towards the final kilometre and that banner should give him a second wind.

     

  171. 17:45:25 CEST

    You can almost feel the heaviness of Mollema's legs as you watch him pedal. 

     

  172. 1km remaining from 200.8km

    17:45:44 CEST

    30 seconds now for King as he enters the final kilometre!

     

  173. 17:45:57 CEST

    King is going to take his second stage win, that looks certain now.

     

  174. 17:46:37 CEST

    King reaches 500m to go and looks behind. He surely knows he has this now but these final metres must feel endless still

     

  175. 17:46:55 CEST

    King shakes his head - almost in disbelief. He knows he has this. 

     

  176. 17:47:12 CEST

    King comes into the final 200 metres

     

  177. 17:47:23 CEST

    King is shaking his head all the way to the line

     

  178. 17:47:44 CEST

    One last burst out of the saddle takes him to the line, and he raises his arms in celebration

     

  179. 17:47:51 CEST

    Ben King (Dimension Data) wins stage 9 of the Vuelta a España

  180. 17:48:07 CEST

    We turn out attention back down the mountain as Quintana attacks!

     

  181. 17:48:25 CEST

    It's a short-lived acceleration, with Ion Izaguirre tracking it.

     

  182. 17:48:37 CEST

    A defeated Mollema crosses the line 45 seconds down.

     

  183. 17:48:46 CEST

    Attack from Kelderman!

     

  184. 17:49:01 CEST

    Quintana is on Kelderman's wheel as the GC group explodes!

     

  185. 17:49:21 CEST

    Uran, Lopez and Izaguirre make their way up to Kelderman and Quintana. 

     

  186. 17:49:36 CEST

    This group of five is gaining time on the rest of the field.

     

  187. 17:50:05 CEST

    Yates is coming over in pursuit. Bennett not far behind. Pinot leading another group a bit further back.

     

  188. 17:50:51 CEST

    Lopez sprints, finishing with Kelderman and Quintana. Izaguirre a little behind with Uran. 

  189. 17:51:06 CEST

    Valverde loses several seconds. Aru plenty more. 

     

  190. 17:51:18 CEST

    Kwiatkowski is going to slip down the standings.

     

  191. 17:54:09 CEST

    It looks like Simon Yates has done enough to take the overall lead.

     

  192. 17:57:43 CEST

    Stage 9 result

     

    1 Benjamin King (USA) Dimension Data 05:30:38
    2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 05:31:26
    3 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team 05:33:16
    4 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 05:33:18
    5 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 05:33:18
    6 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 05:33:18
    7 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 05:33:21
    8 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 05:33:24
    9 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 05:33:27
    10 George Bennett (NZl) LottoNL-Jumbo 05:33:40

     

  193. 17:58:47 CEST

    General Classification after stage 9


    1 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 36:54:52
    2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 36:54:53
    3 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 36:55:06
    4 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 36:55:08
    5 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 36:55:09
    6 Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 36:55:16
    7 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 36:55:19
    8 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 36:55:24
    9 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 36:55:35
    10 George Bennett (NZl) LottoNL-Jumbo 36:55:40

     

  194. 18:20:06 CEST

    King speaks

     

    "To get one stage win was a dream come true. I made winning a Grand Tour stage a major career goal, so today was really nice to show that first one wasn’t a random thing.

     

    "I’ve never suffered that much in my entire life, I’m still a little foggy in my mind, but I’m sure it will sink in soon what an accomplishment this is."

  195. 19:14:31 CEST

     

  196. 19:25:48 CEST

    Here's our report page, with results and photos

     

    Vuelta a Espana: King conquers La Covatilla

     


     

     

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