The riders were warned. The final of this stage, a long crossing of the Cantabrian climbs, looked explosive with an impressive climb that felt like the Classics. At Cofidis, we were well prepared. For a long time, the riders of the northern team,with Pierre-Luc Périchon among them, worked hard to get Guillaume Martin in a good position. And then, in the steepest part of the climb, the team leader made a strong and decisive attack.
The rider from Normandy was in the lead until 200 meters from the finish line, before his ambitions were ruined by the battle for the leader jersey between Carapaz and Roglic. The Ecuadorian rider tried hard to come back on Guillaume before the Slovenian was active again and won the stage and the 1st place in the general classification. After this tremendous effort, there was obviously some disappointment that Guillaume (8th of the stage) wasn’t able to cross the line in the lead and raise his arms.
But the one who was the 1st Frenchman of the last Tour de France keeps on confirming that he is among the strongest world-class riders. His attack today was similar to the one made during the 3rd stage of the Tour de France, in the last meters in Orcières-Merlette, where Roglic had also beaten the hopes of Guillaume Martin. But it takes more than that to bring his motivation down.
A spectacular weekend ahead
The weekend promises to be particularly challenging for the defence of the best climber polka-dot jersey. Tomorrow, five climbs are on the program, four of them of 1st category, all along the 170 km to be ridden.
On Sunday, the stage will be shorter (109,4 km) and the climbs will follow each other before the final climb of the Alto de l'Angliru and its slopes that sometimes are around 23,5%. It will take courage and a lot of self-sacrifice. Fortunately, the Cofidis team has been showing this every day since the beginning of this Vuelta.
GUILLAUME MARTIN SAID...
"Halfway through the race, I felt I could do something today. I talked about it to my team-mates and we have well mentalised the final and regrouped well. I was able to count on the precious help of Pierre-Luc Périchon who I really want to thank. On the final climb, I was well placed and I saw an opening with 800 meters to go in the steepest part of the stage. I created a small gap quickly and I tried to resist as much as possible.
It would be easy to feel resentment, to wonder if I had to strike sooner or later? I went along with my feelings, I was confident in my abilities. Of course, there is a bit of disappointment. But I've been close to victory on this Vuelta several times and I can't imagine leaving here without a success."