Gilbert masters tough finale for sixth Vuelta stage success

By Sports Desk September 05, 2019

Philippe Gilbert displayed incredible endurance to claim his sixth stage win at the Vuelta a Espana on Thursday, while Primoz Roglic kept Miguel Angel Lopez in check to retain the red jersey.

Veteran Deceuninck-Quick Step rider Gilbert made a charge on the last of three successive category three climbs and held off the chasing pack to win the 171.4-kilometre stage 12 by three seconds.

The peloton did not split until 100km into the day's ride, with an 18-man breakaway opening a four-minute advantage ahead of a gruelling finale in the Basque hills.

Gilbert was 40 seconds adrift of Tsagbu Grmay and Felix Grossschartner after the penultimate climb, but the chasing group had reeled them in at the foot of Alto de Arraiz.

The Belgian – who had not won a stage at a Grand Tour since the 2015 Giro d'Italia – made his second attack stick and dropped everyone with 1.3km of the ascent left.

Gilbert held onto his lead and crossed the line first in Bilbao, with Roglic keeping hold of La Roja after Lopez's failed attempt to make a late push and gain some ground on the general classification leader.

 

DECLERCQ RECEIVES THE PLAUDITS

Gilbert used all of his experience to pick the perfect moment to make his attack, but he did not think it would have been possible without another Quick Step rider.

"It was a long fight to get into the breakaway. When we went away I saw good climbers with me, and I wasn't really confident about my chances to win," said Gilbert.

"I tried to race smart and of course I had a big help from my team-mate Tim Declercq. He deserves it as much as I do.

"It's also special because it's my 10th victory at a Grand Tour, so it's a nice number."

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick Step) 03:48:18
2. Alexander Aranburu (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) +00:03
3. Fernando Barcelo (Euskadi Basque Country-Murias) +00:03
4. Jose Rojas (Movistar) +00:22
5. Nikias Arndt (Team Sunweb) +00:26

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 44:52:08
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +01:52
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) +02:11

Points Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 89
2. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 70
3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 61

King of the Mountains

1. Angel Madrazo (Burgos BH) 32
2. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R-La Mondiale) 21
3. Sergio Henao (UAE Team Emirates) 20

WHAT'S NEXT?

If the riders thought Thursday's finale was tough, they will not be looking forward to stage 13. The 166.4km ride from Bilbao includes seven categorised climbs and finishes atop the special category Los Machucos - a 6.8km ascent at an average gradient of 9.2 per cent.

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