These roosters are not fighting

The Pico Villuercas was released with the triumph of an illustrious, Romain Bardet, but with no desire to fight between the leaders. Eiking crosses another date with the red jersey.


The Pico Villuercas was released with the triumph of an illustrious of the peloton, Romain Bardet, double podium in the Tour de France, but with no desire to fight between the roosters. Odd Christian Eiking crosses another date off the calendar dressed in the red jersey. In theory he will lose it this Sunday in El Barraco, or Wednesday in the Lakes, or Thursday in the Gamoniteiru, or the last day in Mos, or in the final chrono of Santiago de Compostela ... But he was also going to lose it in the colossus from Extremadura, and there he is still clinging to the general. Only Guillaume Martin attempted an assault on the garment, without success. Then Superman López flew to squeeze Primoz Roglic, but only managed to cut him four seconds. By now 10:15 minutes had passed since the breakout had crowned Bardet. Only he knew how to take advantage of the route.

Until now we knew that Thomas Pidcock was in La Vuelta because he made a wheelie on the wall of Valdepeñas de Jaén. His joyous participation, after winning the Olympic gold in mountain biking in Tokyo, was limited to that caper, easily executed for a rider as technical as the British, who masterfully dominates mountain biking, cyclo-cross and road cycling. . From today we also know of his presence in the Spanish round because this Friday he got into the flight of 18 units that starred in the great stage of Extremadura, that discovery of Pico Villuercas.

The Olympic mountain bike champion chose, precisely, the same day that the World Championship of the specialty was held. Nino Schurter won, by the way. Its inclusion could have as its objective the stage victory, but also the rear attack of one of its Ineos leaders, Egan Bernal or Adam Yates, who need to come back if they want to still aspire to the podium or something else in La Vuelta. They were not taken for granted. The best previous point to surprise was the Alto Collado de Ballesteros, an explosive ascent of 2.8 kilometers at 14%, plagued by a spirited Extremadura audience, grateful for the return of the race to their community eight years later. The spectacular repechón was crowned far away, 68 km away, and the roosters smoked the opportunity.

Ahead, on the run, a cycling celebrity crowned alone, Romain Bardet, but he did not dare to leave with so much extreme terrain along the way. There would be another chance. Those who did challenge the group of fugitives were Nicolas Prodhomme and Dani Navarro, who already knew the joys of winning at La Vuelta with that stage in Cabárceno in 2014. They were then joined by Sep Vanmarcke. The trio was broken by a fall of Navarro and Vanmarcke in a dangerous descent. And Prodhomme left alone, to start Villuercas with a minute. Insufficient. Jay Vine had also gotten a good buck, leaning on a service car when he was picking up a jerry can. Both Navarro and Vine were back on the run. And they did it on the attack. Surprisingly, I came across the finish line third. Navarro finished 12th, feeling like a great missed opportunity. They are made of other pasta.

Bardet, the strongest, resisted all these provocations and some others. There were too many enemies to answer one by one. And he waited for his moment, seven kilometers from the finish, well directed from the DSM car. The Frenchman started alone to conquer a prestigious victory and to open a gap to the front of the Mountain, which he already won on the Tour in 2019. Bardet is an illustrious of the peloton with two podiums, second in 2016 and third in 2017, and three stages in the Grande Boucle. He arrived at this Vuelta in great shape, after achieving a victory in Burgos, but an early fall deprived him of the fight for the general. Since then he has been involved in guerrilla warfare for other purposes. And it has not gone bad. In second position came Jesús Herrada, another shot to the post of the infertile Spanish cycling, after those of Alex Aramburu, Carlos Verona and Enric Mas. There are seven days left of competition and Spain still does not know this year the victory in a big one.

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