With a radiant, almost incredulous smile, Romain Bardet (Team DSM) raised his arms at the top of Pico Villuercas, Saturday, August 28, to win the 14e stage of the Tour of Spain. Thanks to its victory, the Auvergnat confirms the success of the French in the Vuelta the day after the surprise success of Florian Sénéchal (Deceuninck-Quick Step), while Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) is behind the red leader’s jersey worn by Odd Christian Eiking ( Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert).
? He deserved it, that one! Romain Bardet wins, solo, the 1⃣4⃣th stage of the Vuelta! 24 hours later … https://t.co/n9xUYAs8vd
Victory eluded Romain Bardet (30) for a long time before this first season in his new colors for the German DSM team. His bouquet won on the third stage of the Tour de Burgos, at the beginning of August, certainly gave a lot of confidence to the former rider of the AG2R-Citroën team. He hadn’t won for nearly three and a half years.
Form and confidence back, the 2018 vice-world champion approached this Tour of Spain with great ambitions. Absent from the Tour de France then deprived of the Olympic Games by his training, yet one of his major objectives of the year, he then focused primarily on the Vuelta. But on the evening of the 5e stage judged in Albacete, the native of Brioude was caught in a massive fall 12 kilometers from the line. His hopes as a general were shattered.
Now relegated to the general classification (38 ’27 ”behind the leader on the evening of 14e stage), Bardet had the opportunity to take the breakaways and aim for victory at the same time. It didn’t go far on the 7e and 11e step where he took each time the 6e position. But on Saturday, the climber seized his chance.
First victory on a grand tour since 2017
Present in the morning break of 17 riders who counted between ten and fifteen minutes ahead of the peloton for a good part of the day, he started against in the long final climb to Pico Villuercas, and dropped Andrey Zeits (BikeExchange) and Nicolas Prodhomme (AG2R) six kilometers from the summit to fly to victory. “It was pretty hard, I had to go look for the boys at the front but we played it very well with my sports director, he rejoiced after arriving at the microphone of Eurosport. It’s an incredible Vuelta. “
While at the same time pocketing the white jersey with blue polka dots for best climber, Romain Bardet especially conquered his first success on a grand tour since 2017 at the Tour de France. “The wait has been long, it’s true. I went through second places several times [Tour de France 2019 et Tour d’Italie 2021]. I didn’t focus on the stage victory and it went well. “
With his victory, Romain Bardet signs a second consecutive success for France after that, surprise, of Florian Sénéchal (28 years old), Friday, on the 13e stage. The Deceuninck-Quick Step rider took advantage of the small failure of the regular sprinter Fabio Jakobsen, unable to hold the wheel of his teammates, to pocket his first victory on a grand tour, his third only among the professionals. “I did my sprint at full speed. Fortunately I had the radio to tell me that I had carte blanche, that Fabio was blocked, I don’t know why. I have an incredible team, who put me on a plateau. I tell them a thousand times thank you for what they did for me [vendredi] “, reacted Sénéchal on arrival.
In the general classification also, the Tricolores are illustrated. In the first week, Kenny Elissonde even donned the leader’s red jersey one day. The climber of the Trek-Segafredo team seized it during the 5e stage thanks to the fall of the former leader Rein Taaramäe. ” It’s amazing to wear this jersey ”, the Ile-de-France was congratulated before losing it the next day, unable to resist Primoz Roglic.
Guillaume Martin Dauphin overall
Since the evening of the 10e stage, it is now Guillaume Martin who trustees the first places of the general classification. As in July on the Tour de France, the Normand climbed to the second step of the podium thanks to a river breakaway. From the 20e instead of runner-up to Norwegian Odd Christian Eiking, the rider of the Cofidis team has made a crazy comeback.
On Saturday, he showed he was not satisfied with it. In the final ascent of Pico Villuercas (14.4 km at 6.3%), Guillaume Martin went on the offensive to try to take down the red jersey.
“We saw that there was a little thing to do. So I replaced @GuilmMartin and then why not speed up?” Bi… https://t.co/Wb8sXZuVhz
But the adventure did not bear fruit, taking only four seconds on the red jersey. Sunday, on the 15e stage, Guillaume Martin will have another opportunity to make up for his 54 seconds behind the Norwegian with a still mountainous stage where the finish will be judged at El Barraco.
If several French people smile on this Tour of Spain, another on the other hand is disillusioned. Arrived with great ambitions on the Tour of Spain, Arnaud Démare is always chasing his first bouquet. Apart from a second place on the 4e stage, the Groupama-FDJ sprinter never seemed able to regain his legs from the Giro 2020, where he had gleaned four victories. His 15e surprising place acquired in Pico Villuercas on Saturday, where the Frenchman beat Primoz Roglic, Egan Bernal or Miguel Angel Lopez on a ground which does not suit his qualities at all, is perhaps a good sign.
Two massive sprint opportunities remain on 16e and 19e stage to allow Picard to join Bardet and Sénéchal as French stage winners on this Tour of Spain 2021.