Vuelta a Espana: Majka claims stage 14 at La Pandera

Rafel Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) soloed his way to the finish atop the first 'especial'-rated climb of the Vuelta a España to win Saturday's 14th stage from the early break. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) earned runner-up honours, 27 seconds down, with Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) taking third at 31.

Race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky) came home fourth just behind Nibali and retained his race lead.

The long and difficult climb had its effect on the overall rankings. While the top two easily held on to their places, the rest of the top 10 changed around. Esteban Chavez (Orica-Scott) put up a strong effort with an early attempt to jump away, but couldn't keep up in the end and dropped to fifth, 2:39 down. Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) who finished in the same time as the Nibali group, moved up to third, 2:17 behind Froome with Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha), also in that group, now sitting fourth at 2:25.

Fabio Aru (Astana) lost an additional 30 seconds on Froome as he struggled on the climb. Contador may have dropped some seconds to Froome at the end, but still moved up to eighth overall, at 3:19.

Majka was the sole remaining rider from a breakaway group which formed early in the 175km stage. Originally a ten-man group with a gap of over seven minutes, the gap was down to three minutes as the second climb of the day started. That split the group, and soon there were only five in the lead. The steep start to the final climb saw the group fragment, and Majka started his solo flight with 10 kilometres to go.

In the overall standings, Froome now has a lead of 55 seconds over Nibali, who picked up a time bonus of 4 seconds after beating the red jersey to third on the stage, while Chaves slips two places to 5th overall behind Kelderman and Zakarin.

How it unfolded

It was another hot day as the peloton set off one man short after Axel Domont (AG2R-La Mondiale) abandoned overnight.

It took about 20 kilometres for the day's break to form. When Rafal Majka, Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe), Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale), Simon Clarke, Davide Villella (Cannondale-Drapac), Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates), Bart De Clercq (Lotto-Soudal), Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), Stefan Denifl (Aqua Blue Sport) and Ricardo Vilela (Manzana Postobon) finally made the break from the field, Team Sky seemed happy to let the group established a lead.

Majka and company soon had a five-minute gap on the course which basically climbed most of the way, going from 120 meters at the start to 1830 meters at the mountaintop finish atop the Sierra de la Pandera. The gap also kept ascending, and reached seven minutes as king of the mountains Davide Villella (Cannondale-Drapac) led the group over the day's first climb, the category 3 Puerto el Mojon.

Meanwhile, the Dutch youngster Sam Oomen (Sunweb), who began the day 13th overall, had to abandon after becoming ill overnight.

With 80 kilometres to go, Bahrain-Merida, Trek-Segafredo and Astana moved to the front of the peloton and picked up the pace, and the gap dropped dramatically, hitting just over 4:30 with 50 kilometres remaining.

The final two climbs were soon looming, and with Katusha at the front, the peloton picked up the pace yet again. The gap was only three minutes with 30 kilometres left to go.

Konrad attacked on the ascent of the category 2 Alto de Locubin, and the break split behind him. He continued up accompanied by Costa, Majka, De Clerq, and Villella. Katusha still pulled a reduced peloton along, with the gap continuing to fall.

Marc Soler (Movistar) was the first to jump from the field, but his move didn't last long, and riders dropped from the early break began to drop back into the main field. The mountain points went to Villella, Majka, and Costa, with the peloton crossing over only 1:55 back.

Very soon the final climb started. La Pandera, the first hors categorie climb of this year's Vuelta, is 12 kilometres long, with narrow, steep and badly paved roads and an average gradient of 7.3%. The five leaders hit the lower slopes with a lead of just under two minutes.

The climb started out very steep, with a narrow street going up through the city streets of Valdepeñas de Jaen, and the field exploded. Up front, Villella had to drop back and was soon absorbed by the field, and Konrad too eventually fell back, but only after a fine stint of pace-setting in support of Majka. With 10 kilometres to go, Majka was solo in the lead, with the field 1:20 behind him. He was able to build the gap up as he climbed, with Costa trailing some 40 seconds back.

Sky eventually took over the lead work again, with Wout Poels setting the pace in support of Froome, but Majka's lead stayed around the 1:20 mark. Costa was caught by the field with just over 4 kilometres to go.

Bardet then attacked, followed by Movistar's Carapaz. Esteban Chaves jumped to join them and while Bardet was soon dropped, they were quickly joined by Contador and Nibali. The gap was not large, however, and soon Contador and Nibali set off on their own in pursuit of Majka.

Majka had 1:08 with three kilometres still to climb. Froome, having lost his Sky helpers, took over the chase himself, catching Contador and Nibali in the company of Miguel Angel Lopez. As the pace dropped, Kelderman, Chaves, and Zakarin also joined up with this elite red jersey group once again.

When Kelderman launched a tentative attack with two kilometres to go, Lopez responded and then put in a fierce acceleration of his own. By that point, Majka had 40 seconds in hand, and he stoutly defended his lead up, metre by metre.

He had 32 seconds over Lopez at the flamme rouge, with Froome and company at 54 seconds. Contador, Froome and Nibali crossed under the marker together, with Kelderman and Chaves not far behind.

Majka easily maintained his lead to the end, with Lopez taking second and Nibali leading the group of favourites over the line some 30 seconds later. Contador had to drop back near the end and again lost a few seconds.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe4:42:10
2Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team0:00:27
3Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:00:31
4Christopher Froome (GBr) Team SkyRow 3 - Cell 2
5Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 4 - Cell 2
6Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team SunwebRow 5 - Cell 2
7Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Trek-Segafredo0:00:37
8Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky0:00:46
9Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-Scott0:00:57
10Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:01:03
11Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac0:01:13
12Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team0:01:19
13Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 12 - Cell 2
14Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar TeamRow 13 - Cell 2
15David de la Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step FloorsRow 14 - Cell 2
16Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 15 - Cell 2
17Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team0:01:43
18Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team0:01:49
19Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team0:02:15
20Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA0:03:01
21Louis Meintjes (RSA) UAE Team EmiratesRow 20 - Cell 2
22Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Team Sky0:04:07
23Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:04:12
24Luis Angel Maté Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:05:20
25Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates0:05:33
26Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) FDJ0:06:09
27Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:06:44
28Stef Clement (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo0:06:50
29Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Trek-Segafredo0:08:16
30Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step FloorsRow 29 - Cell 2
31Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) FDJ0:08:20
32Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:08:41
33Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Dimension Data0:09:31
34Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo0:09:41
35Jack Haig (Aus) Orica-Scott0:11:36
36Matej Mohoric (Slo) UAE Team Emirates0:11:48
37Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Astana Pro TeamRow 36 - Cell 2
38Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott0:12:29
39Darwin Atapuma (Col) UAE Team Emirates0:13:05
40Jaime Roson Garcia (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 39 - Cell 2
41Bernardo Suaza (Col) Manzana PostobonRow 40 - Cell 2
42Fabricio Ferrari (Uru) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 41 - Cell 2
43Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates0:13:26
44Clement Chevrier (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:15:06
45Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:15:41
46Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe0:15:43
47Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky0:16:02
48Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team0:16:55
49Ricardo Vilela (Por) Manzana PostobonRow 48 - Cell 2
50Koen Bouwman (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo0:17:37
51Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors0:17:52
52Diego Rosa (Ita) Team SkyRow 51 - Cell 2
53Simon Clarke (Aus) Cannondale-Drapac0:17:58
54Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale-DrapacRow 53 - Cell 2
55Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo0:18:58
56Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-SegafredoRow 55 - Cell 2
57Jesus Hernandez Blazquez (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 56 - Cell 2
58Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Katusha-AlpecinRow 57 - Cell 2
59Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension Data0:19:41
60Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:20:24
61Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team SkyRow 60 - Cell 2
62Lluís Guillermo Mas Bonet (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 61 - Cell 2
63Eros Capecchi (Ita) Quick-Step FloorsRow 62 - Cell 2
64Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 63 - Cell 2
65David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Team Sky0:20:27
66Stefan Denifl (Aut) Aqua Blue SportRow 65 - Cell 2
67Juan Felipe Osorio (Col) Manzana Postobon0:20:37
68Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 67 - Cell 2
69Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto SoudalRow 68 - Cell 2
70Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal0:20:42
71Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 70 - Cell 2
72Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 71 - Cell 2
73Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 72 - Cell 2
74Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Orica-ScottRow 73 - Cell 2
75Aldemar Reyes (Col) Manzana PostobonRow 74 - Cell 2
76Hernán Aguirre (Col) Manzana PostobonRow 75 - Cell 2
77Fernando Orjuela (Col) Manzana PostobonRow 76 - Cell 2
78Floris De Tier (Bel) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 77 - Cell 2
79Daan Olivier (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 78 - Cell 2
80Guillaume Bonnafond (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 79 - Cell 2
81Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-SegafredoRow 80 - Cell 2
82Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar TeamRow 81 - Cell 2
83Kilian Frankiny (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 82 - Cell 2
84Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 83 - Cell 2
85Daniel Hoelgaard (Nor) FDJRow 84 - Cell 2
86Joe Dombrowski (USA) Cannondale-Drapac0:20:49
87Jeremy Maison (Fra) FDJ0:21:35
88Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:22:31
89Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team SunwebRow 88 - Cell 2
90Francisco Ventoso (Spa) BMC Racing TeamRow 89 - Cell 2
91Antonio Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:22:50
92Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:23:00
93Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:23:24
94Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo0:23:27
95Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo0:24:16
96Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott0:24:31
97Sam Bewley (NZl) Orica-ScottRow 96 - Cell 2
98Hector Sáez Benito (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 97 - Cell 2
99Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 98 - Cell 2
100Lennard Kämna (Ger) Team Sunweb0:24:34
101Chris Hamilton (Aus) Team SunwebRow 100 - Cell 2
102Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:25:13
103Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:25:19
104Sergei Chernetckii (Rus) Astana Pro Team0:25:22
105Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step FloorsRow 104 - Cell 2
106Federico Zurlo (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 105 - Cell 2
107Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky0:25:26
108Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ0:25:44
109Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:26:07
110Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha-AlpecinRow 109 - Cell 2
111Matvey Mamykin (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 110 - Cell 2
112Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:26:28
113Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar Team0:26:30
114Michel Kreder (Ned) Aqua Blue Sport0:26:34
115Toms Skujins (Lat) Cannondale-Drapac0:27:25
116Rubén Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team0:28:17
117Matteo Trentin (Ita) Quick-Step Floors0:29:09
118Alexandre Geniez (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 117 - Cell 2
119Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro TeamRow 118 - Cell 2
120David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 119 - Cell 2
121Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 120 - Cell 2
122Loic Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 121 - Cell 2
123Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 122 - Cell 2
124Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 123 - Cell 2
125Rafael Reis (Por) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 124 - Cell 2
126Lorrenzo Manzin (Fra) FDJRow 125 - Cell 2
127Mark Christian (GBr) Aqua Blue SportRow 126 - Cell 2
128Tim Declercq (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 127 - Cell 2
129Diego Rubio (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 128 - Cell 2
130Remy Mertz (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 129 - Cell 2
131Christian Knees (Ger) Team SkyRow 130 - Cell 2
132Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 131 - Cell 2
133Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) UAE Team EmiratesRow 132 - Cell 2
134Adam Blythe (GBr) Aqua Blue SportRow 133 - Cell 2
135Peter Koning (Ned) Aqua Blue SportRow 134 - Cell 2
136Anthony Turgis (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 135 - Cell 2
137Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Bora-HansgroheRow 136 - Cell 2
138Jetse Bol (Ned) Manzana PostobonRow 137 - Cell 2
139Jacques Janse van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension DataRow 138 - Cell 2
140Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R La MondialeRow 139 - Cell 2
141Brendan Canty (Aus) Cannondale-DrapacRow 140 - Cell 2
142Michael Mørkøv (Den) Katusha-AlpecinRow 141 - Cell 2
143Aaron Gate (NZl) Aqua Blue SportRow 142 - Cell 2
144Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 143 - Cell 2
145Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Orica-ScottRow 144 - Cell 2
146Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Aqua Blue SportRow 145 - Cell 2
147Arnaud Courteille (Fra) FDJRow 146 - Cell 2
148Conor Dunne (Irl) Aqua Blue SportRow 147 - Cell 2
149Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Cannondale-DrapacRow 148 - Cell 2
150Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La MondialeRow 149 - Cell 2
151Juan José Lobato (Spa) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 150 - Cell 2
152Thomas Scully (NZl) Cannondale-DrapacRow 151 - Cell 2
153Sebastián Molano (Col) Manzana PostobonRow 152 - Cell 2
154Hernando Bohórquez (Col) Manzana PostobonRow 153 - Cell 2
155William Clarke (Aus) Cannondale-DrapacRow 154 - Cell 2
156Manuele Boaro (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 155 - Cell 2
157Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 156 - Cell 2
158Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Bahrain-MeridaRow 157 - Cell 2
159Sacha Modolo (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 158 - Cell 2
160Magnus Cort (Den) Orica-ScottRow 159 - Cell 2
161Domen Novak (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 160 - Cell 2
162Kenneth Van Bilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 161 - Cell 2
163Nikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 162 - Cell 2
164Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step FloorsRow 163 - Cell 2
165Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-ScottRow 164 - Cell 2
166Michael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 165 - Cell 2
167Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 166 - Cell 2
168Rein Taaramäe (Est) Katusha-Alpecin0:30:18
169Jimmy Turgis (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:34:07
170Chad Haga (USA) Team Sunweb0:34:40
171Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb0:36:39
DNSAxel Domont (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 171 - Cell 2
DNFSam Oomen (Ned) Team SunwebRow 172 - Cell 2
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Points
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe25pts
2Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team20Row 1 - Cell 3
3Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida16Row 2 - Cell 3
4Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky14Row 3 - Cell 3
5Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin12Row 4 - Cell 3
6Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb10Row 5 - Cell 3
7Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Trek-Segafredo9Row 6 - Cell 3
8Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky8Row 7 - Cell 3
9Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-Scott7Row 8 - Cell 3
10Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team6Row 9 - Cell 3
11Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac5Row 10 - Cell 3
12Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team4Row 11 - Cell 3
13Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale3Row 12 - Cell 3
14Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar Team2Row 13 - Cell 3
15David de la Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors1Row 14 - Cell 3
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Sprint 1 - Alcalá la Real, km 130
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates4pts
2Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Mountain 1 (Cat. 3) Puerto El Mojón, km 85.5
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac3pts
2Simon Clarke (Aus) Cannondale-Drapac2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Mountain 2 (Cat. 2) Puerto Locubin, km 153.1
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac5pts
2Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe3Row 1 - Cell 3
3Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Mountain 3 (Cat. E) Sierra de la Pandera, km 175
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe15pts
2Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team10Row 1 - Cell 3
3Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida6Row 2 - Cell 3
4Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky4Row 3 - Cell 3
5Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin2Row 4 - Cell 3
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Most combative
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Luis Angel Maté Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
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Teams
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Astana Pro Team14:09:19
2Team Sky0:02:35
3Team Lotto NL-Jumbo0:15:01
4Movistar Team0:17:14
5UAE Team Emirates0:17:33
6Bahrain-Merida0:20:07
7BMC Racing Team0:21:51
8Orica-Scott0:22:13
9Quick-Step Floors0:24:38
10Trek-Segafredo0:25:02
11Caja Rural-Seguros RGA0:26:22
12Lotto Soudal0:30:41
13FDJ0:32:22
14Bora-Hansgrohe0:33:36
15Cannondale-Drapac0:34:20
16AG2R La Mondiale0:38:49
17Katusha-Alpecin0:41:11
18Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:43:37
19Team Sunweb0:44:47
20Manzana Postobon Team0:47:48
21Dimension Data0:55:32
22