After a fierce day of racing in the breakaway, Romain Bardet summited the Observatorio Astrofísico de Javalambre in a strong third place this afternoon at the Vuelta a España.
Leaving the town of La Vall d’Uixó there was a sense in the peloton that it could be a day for the breakaway to fight for the stage win and as a result an infernal opening two hours of action unfolded. Attack after attack went at the head of the peloton with Team dsm-firmenich making sure they were represented in any larger and more dangerous looking moves, using their energy wisely. Eventually after roughly 60 kilometres of racing a group of around 40 riders had detached itself from the main peloton, with Max Poole and Bardet making the split for the team. Unfortunately in the meantime, Lorenzo Milesi and Romain Combaud were involved in a crash within the peloton, with Milesi ultimately abandoning the race.
The breakaway’s advantage quickly grew to almost seven minutes, which started a frantic chase in the peloton. As a result, the pace remained high for the remained of the day and in particular the closing 50 kilometres. In the break Bardet and Poole contributed early on but when it then became a battle between the GC riders represented there and those in the peloton, they tucked in and focused on the finish climb. With all said and done as they took on the lower slopes of the climbs, the break held onto enough of an advantage to fight for the win. Poole helped Bardet early on as some of the other teams set a really strong pace and shredded the bunch. Countering a dangerous attack, Bardet launch clear and formed a strong quartet out front before eventual stage winner Kuss put in his own attack. Riding alongside Martinez, Bardet fought all the way to the line and claimed a strong third place come the summit of the mountain.