At the Giro d'Italia, Fernando Gaviria was the main man for QuickStep-Floors with four stage wins. At the Tour de France, it was Marcel Kittel taking up the mantle and claiming five before crashing out. At the Vuelta a Espana, Italian Matteo Trentin has taken on the responsibility and been rewarded with two stages in the opening ten stages.
The Italian is a two-time Tour stage winner and also won a stage of his home Grand Tour last year. On his Vuelta debut, Trentin has gone to another level with his two stage wins while helping teammates Yves Lampaert and Julian Alaphilippe to their maiden Grand Tour stage wins.
In his last Grand Tour with QuickStep-Floors, Trentin is bound for Orica-Scott from 2018, he has set about ensuring the team can match its five stage wins from the Giro and the Tour, explaining after his stage 10 victory that "Now we need a fifth stage win at La Vuelta".
Trentin added that he had marked the stage as one for the breakaway and made it his objective to infiltrate the breakaway.
“I was thinking of this stage for a while now and the plan was to get in the breakaway, knowing there was a solid chance it could stick," he said.
With the category three Alto del Morrón de Totana, into the category one Collado Bermejo climbs before the descent into Murcia for the finish, the stage on paper didn't appear to suit a sprint between Trentin and Movistar's JJ Rojas considering the other riders in the breakaway. However, on the Collado Bermejo it was Trentin and teammate Niki Terpstra pushing the pace to force a selection. Cresting the climb with Jaime Roson Garcia (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data) for company, Ropjan and Trentin quickly rode away from the duo to set up the sprint.
Despite Rojas having the advantage of local knowledge, the Murcia rider was powerless against Trentin in the battle for the stage with the Italian enjoying a comfortable win. Trentin's fifth career Grand Tour stage win also saw him retake the lead in the points classification while he had a third trip to the podium for the combativity award to cap off the stage.
"I really wanted that victory," he said. "I knew the downhill was super technical. It was good for me having (Jose Joaquin) Rojas with me because he was really good in the downhill. I just followed him and to be honest, when he was really pushing, I was a bit in trouble to follow him even though I'm good descender. We could distance all the other riders and then I dominated the sprint."
Stage 11 takes the Vuelta peloton to its first mountain summit for the race with Trentin likely to return to a domestique role for teammate David de la Cruz who will be aiming to make it five stages for QuickStep-Floors.
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