Winner: Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates)
Hello there and welcome to our live coverage of stage 13 of the Vuelta a España. After two days for the breakaway, the GC battle resumes in earnest today, with a very tough stage that finishes atop the the steep HC climb of Los Machucos. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) is in the red jersey and his rivals can't let this opportunity go begging.
The riders have just rolled out of Bilbao and are making their way through the neutralised section. Racing will be underway shortly.
"Often compared to the Angliru climb in nearby Asturias in terms of its brutal steepness, at 7.4 kilometres rather than 12 kilometres long, Los Machucos, first tackled in 2017, is notably shorter than the Vuelta a España’s best known ascent. But with an average gradient of 12 per cent and several segments at well over 20 per cent, Los Machucos is almost as daunting as its Asturian cousin."
Alasdair Fotheringham there, writing about Los Machucos in our preview feature. For the full details - including why there's a monument to a cow at the top - here's the link you need.
The flag has dropped and the race is underway.
This isn't something you see every day. The start location was Athletic Bilbao's San Mamés football stadium, and the riders actually did a lap of the pitch... on the grass...
😲 @AthleticClub 🙌#LaVuelta19 pic.twitter.com/RocM7UQ4dkSeptember 6, 2019
😊 ¿Tenemos nuevos fichajes, @AthleticClub? / New signings? 🚴♂️ @OmarFraile @Jonathanlastra_ @MikelBizkarra #LaVuelta19📸: @PhotoGomezSport pic.twitter.com/zNwOcUQ3RvSeptember 6, 2019
After several kilometres of racing, we have Pawel Bernas (CCC Team), Ben O'Connor (Dimension Data) and Wout Poels (Team Ineos) off the front of the peloton trying to form a breakaway.
Poels, O'Connor, and Bernas aren't the only ones who want to head up the road today. We're now seeing responses from others in the bunch.
Aru out of the Vuelta
Fabio Aru did not take to the start today, with his team saying he's suffering from muscular damage.
Aru underwent iliac artery surgery in the spring and came back in the summer to rider the Tour de France and now the Vuelta. He's still some way short of his best and, despite an eye-catching 8th place on Mas de la Costa on stage 7, he finished yesterday 54th on GC, nearly an hour down on Roglic.
20km ridden and still the peloton is as one, with no breakaway attempts sticking so far.
Aru: "The situation is getting worse, so together with the team's medical staff it was decided to stop and carry out further checks."
Full story: Fabio Aru abandons Vuelta a España
28km down and still no break. It's Groundhog Day. Yesterday we went a full 100km without a break forming in a start that was run off at nearly 50km/h. Similar story so far today.
We have no fewer than six climbs to precede Los Machucos today, and we're nearly at the foot of the first one. It's the Alto de la Escrita, it's category-3 and probably the easiest of the six. After a descent it's followed by the Alto de Ubal, and this upcoming section of uphill and downhill should help in the formation of a break.
Two riders clip off the front as the Alto de la Escrita (5.9km at 4%) begins.
🏁 Km 30 | Etapa 13 - Stage 13 | #LaVuelta19 💥 ¡Continúa la batalla por la fuga! / 🇬🇧 One more day, big fight to get in the break!🖥️ Sigue la etapa / follow the stage: https://t.co/izln1uYnJq📸: @PhotoGomezSport pic.twitter.com/kn8r0baMgQSeptember 6, 2019
It's back together and strung out on the climb.
Poels is determined to get away here, and goes again as they enter the final kilometre of the climb. Team Ineos, whose GC hopes have long since evaporated, have missed the successful breaks in the past two days.
Poels is joined by Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R), and Hector Saez (Euskadi-Murias) just shy of the summit.
Here are the KOM points at the top of the Alto de la Escrita
1. Wout Poels (Team Ineos), 3 pts
2. Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), 2 pts
3. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R La Mondiale), 1 pt
The leading quartet has swelled to a group that's more than 30-strong.
We're on the descent now and it looks like the peloton are letting this large group sail clear.
Sergio Higuita is in this group. He's 14th overall at just over 10 minutes, so the GC teams will have to be wary.
The group is on the Alto de Ubal and they're nearly three minutes up on the bunch now, so this is our breakaway. Full composition to follow shortly.
Antonio Pedrero (Movistar Team), Pierre Latour, Geoffrey Bouchard, Clément Venturini (AG2R LA Mondiale), Domen Novak (Bahrain-Merida), Felix Grosschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe), Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Mitchell Docker, Sergio Higuita (EF Education First), Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Tsgabu Grmay, Damien Howson (Mitchelton-Scott), Louis Meintjes (Dimension Data), Wout Poels, David de la Cruz (Team Ineos), Steff Cras, Matteo Fabbro, Ruben Guerreiro (Katusha Alpecin), Robert Power, Martijn Tusveld (Team Sunweb), Gianluca Brambilla, Niklas Eg (Trek Segafredo), Angel Madrazo (Burgos-BH), Sergei Chernetskii (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Jesus Herrada, Darwin Atapuma (Cofidis), Mikel Bizkarra and Hector Saez (Euskadi-Murias).
Higuita is the biggest threat from a GC perspective in that group. Breakaway specialist Thomas De Gendt is there, along with yesterday's winner Philippe Gilbert. Jesus Herrada won stage 6 and is a strong candidate, as is Pierre Latour, who himself is 21st overall.
As for tactics from GC teams, Movistar have fired Pedrero up the road, but neither Astana or Jumbo-Visma have bothered.
Jumbo-Visma have taken control of the peloton on the upper slopes of the Alto de Ubal, and they're holding the gap at just under three minutes.
The 29-rider break comes over the top of the climb and are on their way downhill again. A flatter section will then take them to the pair of Cat-2 climbs at the midpoint of the stage.
KOM points at the top of the Alto de Ubal - nothing for mountains classification leader Angel Madrazo.
1. Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), 3 pts
2. Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r La Mondiale), 2 pts
3. Mitchell Docker (EF Education First), 1 pt
Herrada has five points so far today, taking him up to 11 overall and joint-sixth in the KOM standings. He's 21 points down on classification leader Ángel Madrazo.
Thomas De Gendt fights to make the breakaway earlier today.
Carl Frederik Hagen (sixth overall), Tadej Pogačar (fifth) and Gianluca Brambilla (in the break) speak about today's stage.
🇪🇸 ¡Una etapa como la de hoy siempre da respeto! ¿Qué le cuentan los protagonistas al bidófono? #LaVuelta19🇬🇧 There's always tension before a hard stage! Hear what the riders had to say to el bidófono! 🍼🎙💬 @CFHagen @TamauPogi @glbrambilla pic.twitter.com/OsRQ0mG2XgSeptember 6, 2019
97km remaining from 166.4km
The break are into the final 100km of the stage. There are still five categorised climbs to tackle before the end, though.
A correction to the breakaway – Sergio Henao (UAE Team Emirates) is in there, and Mitch Docker (EF Education First) isn't.
Seems a bit of a random mistake to make until you realise that Henao is number 174, Docker number 74.
The break are soon to start the Collado de Asón. The second category climb is 13km long at an average of 3.9 per cent.
5, 3, 1 points will be on offer at the top. So a maximum of 37 points remain up for grabs, should a rider lead over every climb including the finish.
De Gendt and Venturini have gone on the attack from the break. They're chased by Gilbert and Herrada.
The remainder of the break lags 25 seconds back.
Here's a shot of the finish. Those clouds look...interesting.
OhhhhhhhMG ! LIVE @Eurosport_UK from the finish @lavuelta ....could get grizzly pic.twitter.com/nUs6LflaoESeptember 6, 2019
90km remaining from 166.4km
De Gendt, Gilbert, Herrada and Venturini are together at the front now.
Novak, Fabbro, Großschartner and Power have attacked the break now.
The attackers are back together with the rest of the break now.
Five minutes between the break and the peloton.
Now De Gendt, Poels and Brambilla go on the offensive.
They're over the top of the Collado del Asón and heading downhill, on roads that are slightly damp in patches. Bouchard is chasing alone at 15 seconds from the leading trio.
The peloton are at 6:45 now.
Lead group swells
Higuita, Bouchard, Armirail, and Saez make it across to Poels, Brambilla and De Gendt to make it seven out front.
Those seven riders lead the rest of the break by around 15 seconds. Meanwhile the peloton are still drifting - back to more than seven minutes now.
The leaders now hit the next climb of the day, the fourth of the day. It's the Puerto de Alisas, and it's 8.5km at an average gradient of 6%.
De Gendt, Poels, Armirail fall away as the climb begins.
Poels and Armirail drag themselves back across, but De Gendt is back with the rest of the break.
The six leaders are still barely 20 seconds up on the rest of the break, and they can see each other on the straighter sections of this climb.
Tony Martin is on the front of the peloton setting a very steady tempo some 7:17 in arrears.
The second breakaway group has come across to the lead group. It doesn't contain all the original members - a few have been dropped and a few are trying to scramble across.
2.6km from the top of the climb and the break splits again. Grosschartner has attacked.
The peloton are slipping back to 8:15 now. That's good news for these breakaway riders, who could well survive to contest stage honours, and good news for Higuita, who could in turn climb the overall standings.
Grosschartner is into the final kilometre of the climb and he leads a secondary group of around 15 by 13 seconds.
Herrada attacks just shy of the summit. He's after more mountains points and he rips up to and past Grosschartner to help himself.
Bouchard followed Herrada over the top to bag three points and move up to second in the mountains classification.
But now we have another change on the front - Saez has gone clear on the descent.
The peloton crest the climb 8:30 in arrears.
Saez is still alone out front. He's coming to the foot of the descent now and the road is flattening out. He has really pushed on but this is where his lead will start to fall.
Bouchard and Higuita are chasing at 30 seconds, ahead of the rest of the break.
This is some effort from Saez, who's continuing to hammer the pedals on the flat, his arms folded over his bars. Higuita and Bouchard have been pushed back to 40 seconds, while the next main breakaway group is now at 1:17.
The Jumbo-Visma-led peloton is now at 8:40.
Saez seems to be having no trouble here. In 5km he'll be at the foot of the Puerto de Fuente las Varas, which is the first in a duo of Cat-3 climbs that precede the final haul up Los Machucos.
Another call for Alasdair Fotheringham's preview feature on Los Machucos.
Higuita and Bouchard have sat up and have no been reabsorbed into the larger breakaway group. So just a lone leader ahead of a group of around 20.
Saez is on the false flat approach to the start of the climb proper. He now has 1:40 in hand.
Saez is on the climb and springs out of the saddle as he takes his lead out to 1:55. The Puerto de Fuente de las Varas is 6.3km at 4.5%.
A remarkable ride, this, from Saez. Is he burning his matches too early, though? Los Machucos is a brute of a climb and he could lose time rapidly if he starts to run out of resources.
Not much has changed in the peloton. Tony Martin remains on the front with mouth agape, dragging Jumbo-Visma along. They're still 8:40 down but that's on the lone leader - the rest of the break, including Higuita, are just 6:40 ahead.
In the main breakaway group, Bouchard hits the front and raises the tempo, forcing a small split.
Big acceleration in the peloton as Astana take it up.
Lopez's teammates have decided to take the fight to Roglic and the peloton is thinning on this Cat-3 climb.
Saez reaches the top of the Puerto de Fuente las Varas. He does so with a lead of 1:55 over the main breakaway group. Astana's acceleration has seen the gap to the bunch come down to 7:20.
Saez is descending again. It's a short downhill section to the foot of the next climb, the Cat-3 Puerto de la Cruz de Usaño (4.2km at 4.7%).
Fraile is on the front of the bunch, putting in a fair amount of effort. Lopez sits halfway down the Astana train, which currently comprises seven riders.
Saez finds some more ground as he drops into an aero tuck on the descent. His lead is back up to 2:05.
The pace has ebbed from the main breakaway group and a couple of riders look to shake things up and accelerate.
Astana use a false flat section on the descent to really ramp it up, and there's an ever-so-slight split in the bunch as it goes more steeply downhill now. The gap to the leader is down to 6:30 now.
It's Bouchard and Armirail on the move on the penultimate climb. They peg Saez back to 1:35 now.
Saez is 2km from the top of the Cruz de Usaño climb and his lead is falling all the time. Armirail drops Bouchard in the pursuit.
20km to go
Under the 20km to go banner for Saez. He's into the final kilometre of this climb and he looks set to take his lead onto Los Machucos. How long will he last, though?
Saez crests the Cruz de Usaño. Just one climb left to go now, and that's the mighty Los Machucos. Armirail continues to close, and he's less than a minute in arrears now.
Armirail is followed over the top a little later by Bouchard.
Astana's charge continues on the upper slopes of the climb and they're just 5:20 behind the leader now. That puts them just 3:20 behind the main breakaway group, which still contains Higuita.
Saez once again folds his arms over his bars on the flat, but has an awkward rise to an incongruous intermediate sprint to negotiate before he can start thinking about Los Machucos.
Saez reaches the intermediate sprint. He takes maximum points and three bonus seconds but that's of utter irrelevance to him at this point. He's after the stage win, and all he cares about is time gaps. We can tell him Armirail is still at 50 seconds, while the rest of the break are at 1:52. The peloton, meanwhile, are at 4:37.
Still 4km to go until the foot of the climb, and the gap to the bunch will continue to fall as Astana continue to pile on the pressure. It looked like a breakaway day today but now it's not so sure.
Bouchard leads the main breakaway group with Latour in the wheel.
Astana lose a rider or two but they're committing to this. They know they have to put some pressure on Roglic - plus bringing a breakaway back opens up bonus seconds at the line.
Saez seems to be slowing on the approach to the climb. He's 1km from the foot and he just seems to be steadying himself before the pain begins.
7km to go
Saez hits Los Machucos. Here we go!
Final, final call, for Al's Los Machucos preview
The gradient immediately bites. This is savage. Armirail has closed in to 20 seconds. Meanwhile the rest of the break are at 1:15. AG2R continue to lead on the approach.
The GC contenders don't want to be out of position on the double-digit early gradients and the pace has been ramped up another notch in the bunch. 2:40 is the gap now...
Armirail is closing in on Saez now.
Armirail catches and passes Saez!
Higuita moves onto the front foot in the main breakaway group.
These steep sections are so brutal - riders are really having to fight with the bike. There are a couple of sections of respite. It's really an irregular climb.
The peloton have hit the climb and Astana are still on the front as the bunch begins to shatter.
6km to go
Armirail has 50 seconds in hand with 6km to go. Saez has dropped like a stone. The GC contenders are now within two minutes.
Latour, Brambilla, Guerreiro, and Higuita emerge as the strongest from the break.
Quintana moves to the front of the peloton...
Quintana accelerates away!
It's a quiet attack, but then again it's hard to generate too much speed on slopes such as this. Nevertheless, the Colombian is dragging himself away from the rest of the bunch.
Movistar do have to lay it on the line here.
Armirail is starting to suffer. He almost comes off his bike as he weaves across the road. The gradients are hitting 25%...
Latour piles the pressure on his pedals and his breakaway companions. The Frenchman is grimacing but he knows how to suffer.
5km to go
Armirail ploughs on, finds an ease in the gradient. Latour is just 25 seconds behind now, and the GC group just 1:18 down now.
The GC group has utterly exploded.
4.5km to go
Latour catches Armirail, and glides past him!
Latour has his hands in the drops, taking advantage of a gentler section. The Frenchman looks good here but the peloton are still closing and there are still 4km to go.
Just eight riders left in the GC group. Quintana is still alone a little in front of them.
Roglic, Valverde, Lopez, Pogacar, Majka, Kelderman, Soler are the riders in the red jersey group.
And now they're coming back to Quintana.
Quintana is back with the GC group.
Grosschartner dropped from the break and has helped Majka close that gap. Both are still in this GC group now.
Latour, head bobbing from side to side, leads the race by 35 seconds with 3km to go. He hits another 25% section and drops down to his lowest gear. The GC group has settled and they're 1 minute back.
3km to go
Roglic accelerates! Quintana is dropped!
Pogacar pushes on. The two Slovenians are combining here. Valverde is able to respond but Lopez is struggling!
This latest acceleration does the damage to Latour. The gap drops to 45 seconds as he reaches the hairpins section, hauling himself round each bend.
2.5km to go
Valverde losing ground now!
Lopez has lost 15 seconds already. More for Quintana.
Brambilla, Higuita, Guerreiro are caught by Valverde and passed by Roglic and Pogacar.
Pogacar and Roglic are away here. Incredible.
Quintana gets a second wind and manages to haul his way back up. He's nearly up with Valverde again and has overtaken Lopez.
1.8km to go
Latour is still out front but Pogacar and Roglic are just 15 seconds back.
That's the profile of the climb right there. 1.5km to go.
Roglic and Pogacar catch Latour!
Quintana is with Valverde, Majka just behind.
Pogacar and Roglic drop Latour.
Lopez is nearly 40 seconds down here...
1km to go
Into the final 1000m and it's the Slovenian show. Roglic is tightening his grip on the race while Pogacar is astounding us all once again. He's a 20-year-old neo-pro!!
The climb eases in the final metres now. Roglic and Pogacar are still together. Who gets the stage win?
Pogacar takes it up as the road rises slightly once more. 200m to go.
Pogacar takes it! Second stage win of the Vuelta for him. Amazing. Roglic in the slipstream for second.
Latour takes third. Valverde and Quintana finish 28 seconds down.
Here comes Lopez, fighting to limit the damage. He finishes a minute down. Brutal.
Slovenia is the new Colombia
Roglic extends his lead over Valverde to 2:20. Pogacar leapfrogs Quintana and Lopez into third at 3 minutes.
Tadej Pogacar is the youngest rider ever to win two mountain stages in a Grand Tour #LaVuelta19September 6, 2019
1 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 4:28:26
2 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:00
3 Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:27
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
5 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
6 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
7 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:01:01
8 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:01:08
9 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team
10 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb
Let's hear from Pogacar
"At the start I didn’t know I would feel so good on the last climb. In fact, I just want to survive because after stage 7 I just really wanted to not lose too much… but in the end it was an incredible day for me.
“I heard on the radio that nobody was following me and Roglic, and I realised it was a good opportunity. With Roglic it’s difficult if you’re up against him because he’s really strong, but I could do it today and I’m really happy."
Pogacar is asked if he can win La Vuelta...
"I don’t think so. Primoz is holding onto the red jersey really well."
General Classification after stage 13
1 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 49:20:28
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:02:25
3 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 0:03:01
4 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:03:18
5 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:03:33
6 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:06:15
7 Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:07:18
8 Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) Lotto Soudal 0:07:33
9 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:07:39
10 Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida 0:09:58
Here's our stage report page, where you can find photos and results
"It's easy to ride in the wheels and wait to see what happens, but I prefer to try things," says Nairo Quintana.
"If not, you don't know how you're really feeling and what possibilities you really have."
That's it from us for today. We'll be back tomorrow for full live coverage of stage 14 - a flat stage to Ovideo with a small late climb. In the meantime, keep an eye on Cyclingnews for all the latest from Los Machucos.
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