The last few stages were for the climbers and GC contenders in the peloton but not Saturday’s stage 14 of La Vuelta which took the race from San Vicente de la Barquera over 188 flat kilometres to Oviedo, where a bunch sprint was expected.
As soon as the flag dropped, six riders pulled clear and, after some kilometres of racing, they had almost three minutes gap. The BORA – hansgrohe team took control of the peloton and worked for their sprinter Sam Bennett. The six escapees managed to stay away, however, for a large part of the stage, before the gap came down to 1:35 minutes as the peloton held the front group on a tight leash.
The stage situation changed as the race headed towards Oviedo as the breakaway was caught and the sprinter teams, including BORA – hansgrohe formed their lead-outs. The German team started to form their train for the Irish Champion Sam Bennett and coming into the final stretch of the stage, the pace was high and many teams wanted to stay at the front.
Bennett’s wheel was one of the most sought after in the final stretch but the BORA – hansgrohe sprinter showed confidence as Jempy Drucker and his final lead out man, Shane Archbold, did a stellar job and led their captain perfectly into the final kilometre.
Fortunately, the Irish sprinter avoided a big crash in the bunch just after the flamme rouge and finished his teammates’ work off with an incredibly strong sprint, powering to his second stage win at La Vuelta on the slightly uphill finish.
Speaking at the finishing line, the Irish cyclist said:
“Today was the first time in a while on this race that the sprinters had an opportunity for a fast finish. The win means so much to me. Win number 13: my lucky number. I want to say a huge thank you to the guys for working so hard for me. They controlled the race all day and made sure the break didn’t make it to the line again on this race. Let’s hope win number 13 brings even more luck our way. Morale is super high in the team and I’m grateful to everyone for making today’s win possible.”
Maximiliano Richeze (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) was second with Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto Soudal) in third, as Slovenian Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo-Visma) retained La Roja ahead of two big mountain stages.
Bennett’s second stage win marks his 13th win of the season and his 11th WorldTour win in a stage race.
Stage 14 Result
1 Sam Bennett 4:28:46
2 Maximiliano Richeze +0:00
3 Tosh van der Sande +0:02