Vuelta a Espana: Pinot wins stage 19 atop Coll de la Rabassa

Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) took a huge step towards securing overall victory at the Vuelta a Espana on the first of two final mountain stage in Andorra, distancing biggest rival Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) on the 2,025 metre high Coll de la Rabassa climb and extending his overall lead to 1:38 over the Spaniard.

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) won the stage after being able to stay with Yates, with Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) third at 13 seconds after he was distanced by the two in the final kilometre.

Valverde suffered on the climb, and despite some help from teammate Nairo Quintana, he finished eighth and lost 1:12. Thanks to also taking a six-second time bonus, Yates now leads Valverde by 1:38, with only Saturday’s short but climb-packed mountain stage to Coll de la Gallina separating the Briton from overall victory in Madrid. Kruijswijk moved up to third overall ahead of Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors), 1:50 down on Yates.

Valverde’s Movistar team had tried to control the stage, chasing down all the breakaway attempts on the flat and valley roads, in the hope the veteran Spaniard could win the stage and take a vital time bonus. However, Yates courageously turned the tables on Movistar. He took the initiative with 10km to race on the final climb, attacked hard, powered across to Quintana, Pinot and Kruijswijk and then drove all the way to the finish.

He blew away any suggestions that he was under pressure and about to crack as he did in the Giro d’Italia.

“I felt good. I felt good myself when I tried. The team did a fantastic job again. Jack [Haig] did a really good job to set me up before I went away, and Adam [Yates] was always behind in case I came back, so we did a fantastic job,” Yates said happily but cautiously about Saturday’s final mountain stage.

“I'm very wary of tomorrow. I'll try to stay focused now and of course enjoy the day, but really it's not over until it's over.”

Pinot was happy with his second stage win in the mountains of the Vuelta a Espana after being able to hold onto Yates and even help with the pacing.

“It is the icing on the cake,” Pinot said after also winning at Lagos de Covadonga last Sunday.

“I didn’t think that I would do it. I wasn’t feeling good on Wednesday but I found my legs again. I just wanted to have fun and give it a try. It was a nice stage today. I really wanted to attack early.”

The Frenchman admitted that he was scared Yates was so strong that he would drop him before the finish.

“I was scared of him. I think he knows the climb really well, so he knew exactly where to go and he knew what he was doing. He knew that Alejandro Valverde wasn’t that good so it was a good moment.

How it unfolded

The tension was high at the start in Lleida as the riders expected an aggressive stage and feared the 17km climb to the finish on the Coll de la Rabassa.

Simon Yates reminded everyone that he has lived in Andorra since 2015 and knows the roads of the final mountain stages, while Valverde tried to ride the wave of support for a Spanish winner. Only one of them would emerge from the Pyrenees and be crowned the winner of the 2018 Vuelta a Espana in Madrid.

The flat open roads towards the Pyrenees were perfect for attacks and they came one after another despite almost three weeks of racing. Nothing stuck until the fatigue began to hurt and Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) got away with Simon Clarke (EF Education First-Drapac) and Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Dimension Data) after 40km.

Movistar flexed their muscles by leading the chase and so Clarke eased up with 100km to race. The other two were eventually chased down, but other riders jumped across before the peloton came back together to form a new break of 12. Movistar chased yet again, lining out the peloton and then closing down the move despite Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Sky) trying his hand.

The British WorldTour team continued to race hard, and Jonathan Castroviejo made sure he was in the next attack with Tom Van Asbroeck (EF Education First-Drapac) and Benjamin Thomas (Groupama-FDJ) that went away with 80km to go. Van Asbroeck soon sat up but the other two were allowed open a 1:30 lead as Movistar kept the race under control. The riders covered 90km in the first two hours of racing.

The stage remained finely balanced as the Pyrenees loomed larger and larger into view and the kilometres kicked down to the foot of the climb.

The quiet before the storm was broken by Movistar with 34km when they sensed a chance to attack on an exposed road.

For several minutes the Movistar riders, with several Quick-Step Floors riders joining in the fun, tried to drag a small group clear. The lined-out peloton snapped for a moment, and Simon Yates was not up front with Movistar, sparking panic. However, Mitchelton-Scott kept their cool and Bora-Hansgrohe dragged the peloton up to Movistar, ending the emergency.

Castroviejo and Thomas were caught at the very foot of the 17km Coll de la Rabassa climb after entering Andorra. They shook hands, congratulating each other on their effort but there was no freedom for a minor breakaway. Today was all about the fight for general classification and the best climbers.

Quintana was the first to take on the race as he looked to try to win the stage. He surged away with 13km to go, with George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) helping Kruijswijk join him. After Bennett was distanced, his work done, Pinot attacked the group and joined the attack, making the move even more interesting.

Simon Yates had teammate Haig and twin brother Adam to help with the chase. However, he didn’t need it and threw caution to the wind by attacking alone in the big chainring. Valverde was unable to respond and was left in the group of riders fighting for the less placing in the overall classification.

Simon Yates soon joined Quintana, Kruijswijk and Pinot and even upped the pace. Valverde struggled behind, obliging Mas and others to lead the chase. The gap rose constantly, to 15, 20, 25, and then 30 seconds, with Yates doing huge turns on the front as the gradient eased the kilometres ticked down. It was the turning point of the Vuelta a Espana.

Quintana was ordered to drop back to help Valverde, but a flat with six kilometres to go forced him to change bikes and he was soon dropped. His attack proved to be way over ambitious and left Valverde exposed. Simon Yates had found a weakness and landed a huge blow as Valverde struggled at altitude.

With three kilometres to go Yates, Pinot and Kruijswijk lead by over a minute. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) was alone chasing in the middle, with Mas, Lopez and Uran able to attack a struggling Valverde as they fought for every second and every spot in the top ten.

Pinot was able to distance Yates briefly, but he did not care. He had finally stamped his authority on the 2018 Vuelta a Espana. 


Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ3:42:05
2Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott0:00:05
3Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo0:00:13
4Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:00:52
5Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro TeamRow 4 - Cell 2
6Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step FloorsRow 5 - Cell 2
7Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb0:01:03
8Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team0:01:12
9Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:01:15
10Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team0:01:49
11Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe0:02:20
12Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 11 - Cell 2
13Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 12 - Cell 2
14Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-MeridaRow 13 - Cell 2
15Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 14 - Cell 2
16Daniel Moreno (Spa) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 15 - Cell 2
17Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 16 - Cell 2
18Mikel Bizkarra Etxegibel (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias0:02:24
19Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team0:02:33
20Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott0:03:04
21Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana Pro Team0:03:21
22Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar Team0:04:02
23Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo0:05:20
24Benjamin King (USA) Dimension Data0:05:36
25Hector Saez Benito (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-MuriasRow 24 - Cell 2
26Luis Guillermo Mas Bonet (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA0:05:49
27Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates0:05:58
28Edward Ravasi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates0:06:09
29Cristian Rodriguez Martin (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA0:08:34
30Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott0:09:52
31Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 30 - Cell 2
32Mikel Iturria Segurola (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-MuriasRow 31 - Cell 2
33José Mendes (Por) Burgos BH0:10:27
34Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Katusha-AlpecinRow 33 - Cell 2
35Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:11:44
36Floris De Tier (Bel) LottoNL-JumboRow 35 - Cell 2
37Martijn Tusveld (Ned) Team SunwebRow 36 - Cell 2
38Jai Hindley (Aus) Team SunwebRow 37 - Cell 2
39Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension DataRow 38 - Cell 2
40Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 39 - Cell 2
41Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 40 - Cell 2
42Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA0:12:59
43Jorge Cubero Galvez (Spa) Burgos BHRow 42 - Cell 2
44Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 43 - Cell 2
45Léo Vincent (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 44 - Cell 2
46Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 45 - Cell 2
47Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick-Step Floors0:13:06
48Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:14:02
49Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:15:44
50Alexandre Geniez (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 49 - Cell 2
51Mathias Le Turnier (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 50 - Cell 2
52Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 51 - Cell 2
53Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 52 - Cell 2
54Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension DataRow 53 - Cell 2
55Damien Howson (Aus) Mitchelton-ScottRow 54 - Cell 2
56Davide Villella (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 55 - Cell 2
57Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La MondialeRow 56 - Cell 2
58Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 57 - Cell 2
59Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar TeamRow 58 - Cell 2
60Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 59 - Cell 2
61Sergio Henao (Col) Team SkyRow 60 - Cell 2
62Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 61 - Cell 2
63Tiago Machado (Por) Katusha-AlpecinRow 62 - Cell 2
64Aritz Bagues Kalparsoro (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-MuriasRow 63 - Cell 2
65Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team SkyRow 64 - Cell 2
66Sepp Kuss (USA) LottoNL-JumboRow 65 - Cell 2
67Stephane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 66 - Cell 2
68Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing TeamRow 67 - Cell 2
69Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 68 - Cell 2
70Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 69 - Cell 2
71David De La Cruz (Spa) Team SkyRow 70 - Cell 2
72Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-MeridaRow 71 - Cell 2
73Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:16:11
74Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo0:16:48
75Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-HansgroheRow 74 - Cell 2
76George Bennett (NZl) LottoNL-Jumbo0:17:51
77Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro Team0:18:01
78Jesus Ezquerra Muela (Spa) Burgos BHRow 77 - Cell 2
79Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 78 - Cell 2
80Joey Rosskopf (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 79 - Cell 2
81Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 80 - Cell 2
82Louis Meintjes (RSA) Dimension DataRow 81 - Cell 2
83Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 82 - Cell 2
84Pierre Rolland (Fra) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 83 - Cell 2
85Francisco Ventoso (Spa) BMC Racing TeamRow 84 - Cell 2
86Oscar Rodriguez Garaicoechea (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-MuriasRow 85 - Cell 2
87Eduard Prades Reverter (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-MuriasRow 86 - Cell 2
88Oscar Cabedo Carda (Spa) Burgos BHRow 87 - Cell 2
89Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 88 - Cell 2
90Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team SunwebRow 89 - Cell 2
91Benjamin Thomas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ0:18:32
92Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:20:14
93Johann Van Zyl (RSA) Dimension DataRow 92 - Cell 2
94Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 93 - Cell 2
95Jetse Bol (Ned) Burgos BHRow 94 - Cell 2
96Igor Anton (Spa) Dimension DataRow 95 - Cell 2
97Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Team SkyRow 96 - Cell 2
98Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team SkyRow 97 - Cell 2
99Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 98 - Cell 2
100Jhonatan Restrepo (Col) Katusha-AlpecinRow 99 - Cell 2
101Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-SegafredoRow 100 - Cell 2
102Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team EmiratesRow 101 - Cell 2
103Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 102 - Cell 2
104Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 103 - Cell 2
105Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 104 - Cell 2
106Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar TeamRow 105 - Cell 2
107Mickael Delage (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 106 - Cell 2
108Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-MuriasRow 107 - Cell 2
109Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar TeamRow 108 - Cell 2
110Ian Boswell (USA) Katusha-AlpecinRow 109 - Cell 2
111Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team SunwebRow 110 - Cell 2
112Marc Sarreau (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 111 - Cell 2
113Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Eri) Dimension DataRow 112 - Cell 2
114Thomas Leezer (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo0:20:23
115Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team EmiratesRow 114 - Cell 2
116Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias0:20:32
117Loic Chetout (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:20:40
118Nikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:20:48
119Jose Herrada (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:21:16
120Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 119 - Cell 2
121Antoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-FDJRow 120 - Cell 2
122Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida0:21:23
123Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors0:25:17
124Michael Albasini (Swi) Mitchelton-ScottRow 123 - Cell 2
125Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 124 - Cell 2
126Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo0:25:37
127Lars Boom (Ned) LottoNL-JumboRow 126 - Cell 2
128Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott0:25:59
129Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Quick-Step FloorsRow 128 - Cell 2
130Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team SkyRow 129 - Cell 2
131Michael Mørkøv (Den) Quick-Step FloorsRow 130 - Cell 2
132Pablo Torres Muiño (Spa) Burgos BHRow 131 - Cell 2
133Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 132 - Cell 2
134Mitchell Docker (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 133 - Cell 2
135Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-SegafredoRow 134 - Cell 2
136Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 135 - Cell 2
137Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-ScottRow 136 - Cell 2
138Luka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 137 - Cell 2
139Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-JumboRow 138 - Cell 2
140Kasper Asgreen (Den) Quick-Step FloorsRow 139 - Cell 2
141Alex Edmondson (Aus) Mitchelton-ScottRow 140 - Cell 2
142Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 141 - Cell 2
143Antonio Molina Canet (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 142 - Cell 2
144Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 143 - Cell 2
145Diego Rubio Hernandez (Spa) Burgos BHRow 144 - Cell 2
146Jonathan Lastra Martinez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 145 - Cell 2
147Michael Storer (Aus) Team SunwebRow 146 - Cell 2
148Nelson Andres Soto Martinez (Col) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 147 - Cell 2
149Matthias Brändle (Aut) Trek-SegafredoRow 148 - Cell 2
150Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-HansgroheRow 149 - Cell 2
151Max Walscheid (Ger) Team SunwebRow 150 - Cell 2
152Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 151 - Cell 2
153Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-HansgroheRow 152 - Cell 2
154Daniele Bennati (Ita) Movistar TeamRow 153 - Cell 2
155Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-SegafredoRow 154 - Cell 2
156Michael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 155 - Cell 2
157Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 156 - Cell 2
158Stephen Cummings (GBr) Dimension DataRow 157 - Cell 2
DNSLukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-HansgroheRow 158 - Cell 2
DNFLaurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 159 - Cell 2
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Sprint - Sant Julià de Lòria - 136.7 km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Team Sky4pts
2Benjamin Thomas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Finish - Naturlandia. Coll de la Rabassa - 154.4 km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ25pts
2Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott20Row 1 - Cell 3
3Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo16Row 2 - Cell 3
4Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale14Row 3 - Cell 3
5Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team12Row 4 - Cell 3
6Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors10Row 5 - Cell 3
7Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb9Row 6 - Cell 3
8Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team8Row 7 - Cell 3
9Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale7Row 8 - Cell 3
10Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team6Row 9 - Cell 3
11Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe5Row 10 - Cell 3
12Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team4Row 11 - Cell 3
13Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin3Row 12 - Cell 3
14Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida2Row 13 - Cell 3
15Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe1Row 14 - Cell 3
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Mountain - Naturlandia. Coll de la Rabassa - 154.4 km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ10pts
2Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott6Row 1 - Cell 3
3Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo4Row 2 - Cell 3
4Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale2Row 3 - Cell 3
5Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team1Row 4 - Cell 3
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#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Team Sky
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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Astana Pro Team11:13:01
2Movistar Team0:00:17
5Euskadi Basque Country0:11:06
6EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:12:37
8Team Sunweb0:17:45
9Quick-Step Floors0:18:56
11AG2R La Mondiale0:19:12
12Caja Rural-Seguros RGA0:20:36
14UAE Team Emirates0:21:05
15BMC Racing Team0:23:02
17Dimension Data0:26:18
18Lotto Soudal0:34:34
21Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:40:26
22Team SkyRow 21 - Cell 2
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