Recap the first week of La Vuelta with the best bits
Quick-Step Floors have sustained their status as the winningest team of 2017 in the first week of La Vuelta. With three of nine stage wins, the team elevate their victorious tally to a staggering 25% of all the Grand Tour stages completed so far this year. The race commenced with a technical team time trial through the winding streets of Nîmes’ city centre in which Quick-Step Floors finished a close second.
With the red race leader’s jersey well within their sights thanks to close margins in the time trial, Quick-Step took to stage 2 with clear intentions. After 203.4 kilometres battling a persistent wind under the hot Spanish sun, a terrific turn of pace from the Quick-Step train in the closing kilometres forced splits. Yves Lampaert then launched off the front pack to finish solo, teammate Matteo Trentin leading the bunch home for second. Lampaert not only sealed his maiden Grand Tour stage win, but he also rode himself into the coveted leader’s jersey.
The Quick-Step team once again asserted their dominance with a powerful performance on stage 4. The day before, Lampaert had given the red jersey away to Chris Froome in Andorra, but the finish into Taragona proved perfectly suited to fast-man, Matteo Trentin. Lead out by Julian Alaphilippe and Lampaert, the Italian overcame his rivals in a furious sprint for the line.
Stage 6 delivered one of many breakaway victories of the first week and one of the key animators of the stage was Quick-Step neo-pro Enric Mas. The break was hauled back to within ten seconds of the peloton in the closing phases, but an almighty push lead by the young Spaniard stretched the margin back out to around thirty seconds. Mas finished third in the sprint but showed real spirit and strength to hold off the main group.
Four days after Trentin’s win, it was Alaphilippe’s turn to punch the air, but not before a hard-fought battle on the steep final climb. Now recovered from a badly-timed stomach bug which had put him out of the general classification race, Rafal Majka of Bora-Hansgrohe used his significant time deficit to his advantage and attacked from the breakaway on the brutal Xorret de Catí ascent. Alaphilippe was the only rider who could follow and the pair rode to the finish together, joined on the descent by Jan Polanc.
In the end, victory went to the young Frenchman who opened his superior sprint as they rounded the last corner, finally something to celebrate in an injury-marred season. Majka came in for a creditable third place just two seconds later.
Matteo Trentin lead the points classification for six days until relinquishing it to Chris Froome after stage nine, though he will continue to display the green jersey while Froome wears red. Quick-Step’s general classification leader David de la Cruz sits in a comfortable sixth place 1’30” down on the race leader, with the high mountains still to come. The young Spaniard has proved popular with the home fans as he rides into better and better form with every passing stage.
Most of the riders on both the Quick-Step Floors and Bora-Hansgrohe teams are riding the 2018 model of the S-Works Tarmac, now resplendent in team colours. As the race heads into the mountains, the helmet of choice will be the S-Works Prevail II, famed for its light weight and superlative ventilation. Last but not least, some of the best-looking and stiffest shoes in the peloton wrap the feet of both teams in the shape of the S-Works 6 road shoes.
[image – Bora bike and S-Works shoe]
(Image credit to Steihl Photography and Brakethroughmedia)
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