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Vuelta a España stage 15 - Live coverage


Good morning and welcome to our live race coverage from stage 15 of the Vuelta a Espana.

It's another day in the mountains for the riders in this year's race. It's not quite a summit finish with a short descent to the line in El Barraco but it's another brute of a stage with four  categorized ascents, including the first cat climb of Puerto de Mijares, to contend with. Here's a picture of the stage profile if you don't believe me.

Here's what Peter Cossins wrote in his stage preview for today:

A bit of housekeeping before we get underway, as it's an early start. Richard Carapaz was a DNF yesterday. The Olympic road race champion is heading home to rest after a grueling season. Here's the story.

Here's the GC picture coming into today's stage. There wasn't much action on yesterday final climb between the main favourites other than Lopez's late attack. Today should see some much bigger gaps. All eyes on Roglic but also Eiking, who remains in the leader's jersey after another dogged ride on Saturday.

As I mentioned, it's an early start today and the riders have just rolled out through the neutralized zone.

One non starter today and it's Jonathan Caicedo (EF Education Nippo). So we're down to 163 riders on the start line for the 197.5km stage.

The first climb of the stage, the Alto de la Centenera, is some way off, peaking out 85.1km into the stage. The first hour or so will be totally flat but we're likely to see another major fight to get into the break. It worked yesterday for Romain Bardet and perhaps Damiano Caruso will have a go today. He needs to do something  after losing the KOM jersey to the Frenchman. Bardet has 50 points, Caruso 31.

Here's a photo of Bardet enjoying his first Vuelta a Espana stage win, and his first Grand Tour stage win since 2017. Team DSM have really turned their season around in the last month.

We've completed the neutralized zone and we're racing on stage 15 of the Vuelta a Espana. 

No rest for Bardet, and yesterday's stage winner has gone on the attack once more. He's off the front with his teammate Michael Storer and Magnus Cort Neilson. They've won five stage between them in this year's race so this would be a good move to follow if you wanted to get into the day's break. 

The trio don't have  time gap yet and the pace is still incredibly high as we head through the opening kilometers of stage 15.

188km to go

Now both of the front two groups have merged with 187km to go as the entire peloton lines out. This has been a really tough start to the race.

Ineos, Lotto, AG2R, Bora, QuickStep and EF are well represented in the front group but more and more riders are attacking from the peloton. Riders have been dropped from the peloton already  - that's how rapid the race has been.

LL Sanches is part of the group that has been dropped as up the road Caruso is in the break. Can't see Bardet just yet.

Bardet is in the move. Sivakov, Craddock, Trentin, de la Cruz too.

De la Cruz is only seven minutes down so that will be a concern for the GC teams at this point. The bunch remain on high alert and haven't sat up with the gap at around 25 seconds with 180km to go.

Kuss is in the break! He's 4'59 down on GC and the best placed rider in the move. Movistar can't let this go and they're the ones chasing. They  can't wait for Intermarche to handle this. 

Luis Leon Sanchez is back with the medical car. It doesn't look like he has fallen but he's not in a good way. The magic spray comes out but this could be touch and go for the veteran. 

Movistar have missed this 25 rider move and they're having to race full throttle for the opening 15km of the stage. Jumbo then complain that the race motos are helping the Spanish squad. It's all kicking off. 

Movistar do have Erviti in the move but they might call him back to help close the gap, which is at 28 seconds.

The peloton though remain lined-out and Movistar can only hope that there are too many passengers in the attack and they start to miss turns and sit up. This looks really dangerous though.

It's starting to come down, and the gap is at 16 seconds, so Movistar are correcting the situation. 

Caja Rural are chipping in and giving them a hand. 

Up front and Cort Neilson has kicked again as he looks to bring another group from the first portion of riders. 174km to go.

The break are attacking each other and that's keeping the pace at over 50kph. The gap goes out again to 20 seconds. 

Three teams chasing with Movistar, Intermarche and Caja Rural taking responsibility. Up ahead and the two UAE riders  - Trentin and de la Cruz swap turns as they try and keep the large group clear. QuickStep and Euskaltel are pitching in and this move is proving very hard to shut down.

Back in the bunch and Ineos have moved Bernal up as they're worried that the bunch could split again. 

Puncture for Trentin. Terrible luck for the Italian.

164km to go

That might be enough for the peloton to ease up, once the catch of the Kuss move has been made.

The 10 leaders are:

Vansevenant, Cerny, Izagirre, Bol, Mate, Soto, Sivakov, Cort Nielsen, Erviti and Kron.

The second group containing Kuss and de la Cruz has been caught and with 162km to go the ten leaders have 28 seconds.

The bunch are still lined out though, so this might not be the break of the day. 

Burgos and Caja Rural are still chasing and the gap is only 30 seconds as we head closer and closer to the climbs. 

157km to go

21 seconds now and the gap continues to slowly come down. 19 now. The ten leaders are fully committed but it's just not happening for them. 17 seconds now.

And now Caruso has attacked from the bunch and that's sparked a wave of attacks. 155km to go.

That counter has been brought back but  the ten leaders only have 9 seconds. The bunch are closing rapidly with UAE setting the pace.

The peloton aren't closing this. It looks like they're sitting up, even though they had the gap at 10 seconds. DSM have lifted the pace.

150km to go

The peloton are trying to mount counter attacks and Bardet is marking Caruso but the organised chase has totally ended now.

Poels is trying to set up Caruso and the gap between the bunch and the 10 man break is down to 14 seconds again. 

146km to go

Mechanical for Landa. Terrible timing and most of the break has been caught with just two riders clear. 

Sivakov and Cort Neilsen are still clear but the bunch has just split in two with about 30 riders clear. That gap should be closed though.

143km to go and the two leaders have 30 seconds but that's nothing at this point and given how aggressive the race has been so far. 

The bunch line out once again but we're about to hit an unclassified climb. 141km to go.

Three more riders attack and it's Trek Segafredo trying to make things happen. 37 seconds for Sivakov and Magnus Cort.

Another 15 or so riders have gone clear on this rise and that's cut the leader's advantage down to 18 seconds. This has been non-stop attacking all day.

DSM are tying to wind things up with Storer as that 15 rider move is brought back. 

Geoffrey Bouchard is on the front too and trying to make things happen. Come on Geoffrey, you can do it. Pave the way, put your back into it.

Sivakov and Cort only have 12 seconds now with 135km to go.

And now it's Trentin on the attack as the descent to this climb starts. 

Now Astana try and get in on the action as we tear down this descent with 133km to go. The two leaders will be caught soon, with the gap at 8 seconds.

We're about to hit the foot of the first major climb, the Alto de la Centenera. It's 15.1km in length and has an average gradient of over 5 per cent. 

130km to go

Vanmarcke, who crashed out of the break yesterday has just made  a move from the bunch. He's been marked by a couple of riders.

A rider from Caja Rural goes with Vanmarcke but Sivakov is leading the chase.

Groupama, EF and BikeExchange are the next teams to try and  fire riders up the road. AG2R have pinged up man up there too.

We're now on the Alto de la Centenera.

Rather unsurprisingly riders are being dropped immediately on the climb with Jakobsen among those slipping back. Up front and Majka has attacked with a rider from UAE.

Attack Fabio Aru.

The Italian is on the move and is trying to catch the two man rider break. At the back of the peloton and Sivakov is struggling 

Aru makes it up to Maxim Van Gils and Rafal Majka with 123km to go.

There's a five-rider counter that includes a rider from Jumbo Visma and it looks like the peloton have knocked it off slightly. 

The counter attack is about to swell to maybe 10 riders. Storer is there, and Bouchard. 

The second group on the road includes: Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma), Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R-Citroën), Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Carlos Verona (Movistar Team), Michael Storer (Team DSM), Steff Cras (Lotto Soudal), Lucas Hamilton (Team BikeExchange), Chris Hamilton (Team DSM) and Guanluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo).

118km to go

Three more riders have made it into the second group on the road. So we now have:

Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma), Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R-Citroën), Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Carlos Verona (Movistar Team), Michael Storer (Team DSM), Steff Cras (Lotto Soudal), Lucas Hamilton (Team BikeExchange), Chris Hamilton (Team DSM),  Guanluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo), Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious), Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) and Guy Niv (Israel Start-Up Nation).

Van Gils has cracked, so that leaves us with Majka and Aru up front. This has been a brutal stage and Richard Carapaz deciding to head home yesterday suddenly looks like the smartest tactic we've seen all race.

At the front of the peloton and Intermarche have taken responsibility for the pace setting.

Majka and Aru have 1'15 as we head into the final 2km of the climb as Poels attacks again and Storer goes with him.

The Poels move is marked and the second group comes back together but they are still over a minute down on Majka and Aru. The bunch is at 2'24.

Trek now have two riders in this ever-growing second group but there's no harmony and it's stop-start the whole time. 

Former race leader Kenny Elissonde has abandoned. 

110km to go

Aru and Majka have 1'48 on the 20-strong chase they head down the long and technical descent. The bunch are at 3'30 with 108km to go.

It's a long descent before we hit a very short flat section and then begin the next ascent of the Puerto de Pedro Bernardo. The second cat climb is 9km in length and seeing the chase group there are way too many passengers. 

A reminder of how things stand on GC heading into the stage:

1 Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 55:03:17
2 Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis 00:00:54
3 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma 00:01:36
4 Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team 00:02:11
5 Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Movistar Team 00:03:04
6 Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious 00:03:35
7 Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers 00:04:21
8 Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 00:04:49
9 Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma 00:04:59
10 Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:05:31

100km to go

Meanwhile the bunch are holding firm at 3'43.

The race has finally settled down and into a steady pattern but there's still plenty of climbing to come as we head to the foot of the Puerto de Pedro Bernardo. 

Poels pushes on in the chase group and is taking a couple of riders with him as the lead of Aru and Majka hits 2'25 with 95km to go.

The two leaders have started the climb and their gap has dropped to 2'03. The bunch are at 4'00.