The 25-year-old earns himself a visit to the podium after a stunning and spirited solo effort.
Rémi Cavagna confirmed again there’s a reason why he’s nicknamed the “TGV of Clermont-Ferrand”, Friday afternoon, when he almost single-handedly held off the peloton on the roads of the Salamanca province, on the 162km stage 16 of the Spanish Grand Tour. The day belonged to the breakaway, where the French ITT Champion found himself for an astonishing fifth time since the start of the race, helping the five-man group establish a six-minute margin over the red jersey group.
Surprisingly for the men at the front, the chase was led by some of the GC teams, which peeled back five minutes by the time they rode over the top of Puerto El Robledo, the day’s main difficulty. With the lead of the group slashed to a mere minute by the fast and furious bunch, Rémi attacked on the steepest part of the climb and forced a selection, only Robert Stannard (Mitchelton-Scott) being capable of following him.
Despite their advantage being a slender one, of just 20 seconds on the twisty downhill to Ciudad Rodrigo, the duo kept pulling hard and conserved the buffer. About 15 kilometers from the finish, another surge of the 25-year-old Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider helped him get clear of the Australian and power ahead, bravely taking on the long and flat final 12 kilometers. Tucked over his handle bars in full time trial mode, Cavagna kept motoring and enjoyed at one point a 20-second lead over the chasers, but that margin was narrowed down and eventually Rémi was reabsorbed agonisingly close to the finish, just two kilometers from the line, where Magnus Cort (EF Pro Cycling) prevailed in a reduced sprint.
“I was disappointed after my time trial and today was the last opportunity for me to try something. We were a nice group at the front, but the bunch chased hard and cut our lead, making it really difficult to survive until the end. Despite this, I did my best and gave everything, and with the help of the tailwind I really hoped I would make it, but it wasn’t the case. We showed again the Wolfpack spirit, we showed again that the Wolfpack never gives up and we can be proud of this”, said Rémi, who went to the podium to receive the trophy for the most aggressive rider of the stage, a performance he achieved also at the Tour de France.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step will go into the final weekend Vuelta a España with just seven riders, after neo-pro Andrea Bagioli – tenth on Arrate and third in Suances – had to abandon two days from Madrid. It wasn’t a good day also for another Grand Tour debutant, Jannik Steimle. The Tour of Slovakia winner crashed on a tricky downhill with 42 kilometers to go, an incident which left him with cuts and abrasions on the left side of the body, his elbow, hip and knee. Immediately after the finish, Jannik went to the race ambulance to get his wounds stitched, before traveling with the team to the hotel, where his condition will be monitored overnight by the Deceuninck – Quick-Step medical staff.
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