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“I’m a decent sprinter but not as fast as the top sprinters but I climb better than some guys so hopefully I will develop as a Belgium classics specialist.”

Photo: Unipublic/Graham Watson

VUELTA A ESPAÑA

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
08.09.2016 @ 23:16 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Reactions from stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana

 

Magnus Cort (Orica-BikeExchange) got the perfect start to his grand tour career when he claimed a maiden stage win already in his first three-week race on stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana. Having latched onto the Giant-Alpecin train, he anticipated Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) and just had enough to hold the German off in a close bunch sprint, with Jempy Drucker (BMC) completing the podium. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) retained the lead on the eve of the time trial.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Cort sets sights on the classics after breakthrough win at the Vuelta

ORICA-BikeExchange sealed their third stage victory at this year’s Vuelta a Espanatoday with 23-year-old Magnus Cort sprinting to a magnificent win on stage 18 in the Dane's first appearance at a GrandTour.

 

A windy, yet mainly uneventful, stage saw an early breakaway of five riders develop a maximum lead of seven minutes before the controlled peloton made the catch with ten kilometres left to race.

 

ORICA-BikeExchange moved determinedly up the field as the battle for position began and it was Cort who exploded out of the bunch to take his first win for the team after jumping to the left and accelerating brilliantly to the line.

 

“It’s really fantastic, a big dream come true,” said Cort at the finish. “Our main goal at the moment is the general classification and protecting Esteban Chaves andSimon Yates, but every now and again we get the opportunity to give it a try.

 

“We saw the same with Jens Keuekeleire on stage 12 and today it was my turn to give it a go and it was really amazing. This is fantastic for me to win a stage in my first GrandTour ever.

 

“This is a great team to be part of at the moment, three stage wins and two guys in the top five overall, it’s pretty special.

 

”It was a long sprint, I was careful in the last corner to have a good position. I was a bit afraid of being boxed in but I had some confidence from stage 2. The team were looking for Esteban (Chaves) and Simon (Yates) so they were keeping them up there in the peloton and I was on their wheels saving myself for the sprint. At 3 km the guys where they needed to be and I thought I could do my thing. In a sense, the team helped me.

 

”I come from a small Island in Denmark, where I rode my bike on a lot of different terrains since I was 12 years old. Then when I was 16-17 I became more serious on the road bike and from then I kept improving all the time

 

“It’s fantastic, it’s my first grand tour. For sure we are all tired in the last week but victories keep our morale high. I have such a good team around me and the other guys are good in GC. That helps us keep sharp and focused in the last week.

 

”It means a lot. All young riders dream of winning, they have to show that they can win races. It’s fantastic to get such a big win this early in my career. I’m still young and growing. I’m living a dream.

 

“I’m a decent sprinter but not as fast as the top sprinters but I climb better than some guys so hopefully I will develop as a Belgium classics specialist.”

 

Chaves and Yates were protected well by their teammates and came through the stage without issue to hold on to third and fifth respectively on the general classification ahead of tomorrow’s individual time trial.

 

Arndt: I was not fast enough

Directly from the start, a breakaway of five riders got clear from the bunch, while Team Giant-Alpecin was among the teams that controlled the pace behind them.

 

When the race approached the finale, the speed went up and the break was caught with 10km to go. After some late attacks got neutralized, the bunch sprint was the logical consequence and Nikias Arndt sprinted to second place in the streets of Gandia.

 

Nikias Arndt said:

 

“It was like always pretty hectic here, that’s why we decided to be at the front 11km from the finish. It went quite well but it was still hectic. I was fighting for position the whole time because there were other sprinters. Towards the finale we were in front, we were never too far back, we were in perfect position and Koen (De Kort) made the lead-out for me. That, too, went really well but I was just not fast enough. We tried everything, the team did everything but today we just have to be satisfied with second place.

 

“Our team already won a few times in Madrid (with John Degenkolb) so I think that’s a good sign. In the last sprint I was third, now I’m second so it’s just one spot left to first so I think we will fight for it. I’m pretty confident. »

 

Coach Luke Roberts said after the stage:

 

“We had hoped to set up a sprint for Nikias and with some really strong work from Sindre [Lunke] and Tom  [Stamsnijder] we could control the breakaway and bring it back together. The rest of the guys continued the great work into the finale and Koen led Nikias into the final straight. When the sprint opened up Nikias was jumped by Cort and was unable to find the speed to pass again.”

 

Drucker: Maybe yesterday’s work cost me the win

It was a quiet day of racing for the peloton on stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana until a hectic bunch sprint played out in Gandia which saw Jempy Drucker cross the line in third place.

 

Drucker was right up there in the sprint and looked set to take the win in the final 100m before fading slightly just before the line. It was Drucker’s fourth top ten result in this year’s Vuelta a Espana.

 

There was no change to the Samuel Sanchez’ seventh place on the General Classification and BMC Racing Team continue to lead the team classification.

 

Jempy Drucker said:

 

“I saw the sign at 200m to go and I thought I have to go otherwise I’ll get boxed in or I don’t know what will happen, so I wanted to have my own sprint. It was a little bit early but not so many guys passed me anymore. Of course [I’m confident about Madrid], if I look at yesterday I spent a lot of energy at the front of the bunch which maybe also cost me the victory today. But before Madrid we’ve still got the TT and another hard day on Saturday, so I hope I can make it to Madrid and go for another sprint there.”

 

Bennati gets rare chance to sprint at the Vuelta

Daniele Bennati was once again in the mix at today’s sprint finish, this time waiting for the final kick and racing to fourth place on the stage. With tomorrow’s individual time trial and Saturday’s tough, final mountain stage lying in wait, stage 18 of the Vuelta a España was a safe day for the GC contenders, with no change in the overall classification by the end of the day.

 

After the race, Tinkoff Sport Director Steven de Jongh told us from outside the team bus:

 

“The guys worked well today with the task of protecting Alberto and Benna throughout the stage. Benna did a good move before the last corner to move up onto Stybar’s wheel, but had to go again and do his own sprint. In the final he did a good effort to take 4th. He’s got another shot on Sunday.

 

“It was a safe day for Alberto with no problems, and he can now look ahead to tomorrow’s time trial. He’s already looked at the course and we’ll have another look in the morning to be prepared.”

 

Having kept Contador well positioned throughout the stage and into the final, through a succession of technical roundabouts, Tinkoff’s focus passed to Bennati in the final kilometres as he positioned himself for the finishing sprint.

 

Moving up well through the last corner, Bennati gave his everything as the sprint opened up but couldn’t get through to jump for the line, ending up in fourth place.


 After the sprint, he told the press:

 

“It wasn’t easy today, but we were pretty quiet and in the final I had some energy left, but I was a little bit behind in the last two corners. When I was able to go on the left I gave it my all.

 

“The main goal is Alberto and the race doesn’t finish until Madrid so we’ll keep doing everything we can to race for the red jersey. It’s not easy but we know his character and he’ll fight all the way.”

 

Alberto Contador: It will be a complicated time trial

Contador said:

 

"It was another hard day where we put in a very strong effort. We had a fast pace, stayed in the front all day and I'm happy with the result. Now the focus is on recovering as much and as quickly as possible in order to give my very best in tomorrow's time trial. Yesterday and today I felt fine, so we will see how we do tomorrow. We can't draw any conclusions from this stage but I can guarantee that I'm motivated.

 

“The time trial will be tough. It isn't flat, it has a lot of climbs which could result in slowing your pace and has quite a technical part. Until we reach Calpe the road surface is very smooth and could prove slippery, and at times the road has a central reservation, so, overall it will be a complicated time trial."

 

Confusion forces Reijnen to take over from Felline in the Vuelta

Kiel Reijnen sprinted to 6th place in stage 18 to give Trek-Segafredo its 11th, and fifth consecutive, top 10 finish at the Vuelta a Espana, but the victory still eludes the team despite their best efforts.

 

Fumy Beppu jumped into the breakaway that escaped in the first kilometers, riding out front with four others and building a lead of nearly seven minutes. However, the headwind and a motivated peloton craving a rare bunch finish ended the escape 11 kilometers from home.

 

Beppu's endeavors out front allowed the team to sit back, save energy, and wait for the finale, and it also earned Beppu the most combative award for the day.

 

"It's not a win, but it's nice to be acknowledged for trying and doing something," said Beppu. "I did not have a good feeling yesterday, so I was motivated to get into the break today. But the goal was to try to sprint for Fabio (Felline) today.

 

"We tried to play with the peloton and slowed down and then pulled really hard in the last three kilometers of the second category climb. The gap went down, then up, then down. We tried, but It was not so easy because it was a headwind in the last 30 kilometers. For me, I am satisfied as finally I took the breakaway, and I enjoyed being out front; I was happy to do this. It's not finished yet, three more days to go!

 

“I had already taken the prize for the most combative rider on the Giro and on the Tour de France and now I’ve claimed it on the Vuelta. It’s my personal slam. We were not enough in the break to make it go all the way. I’m happy to finish my sixth Grand Tour.”

 

When it was evident the breakaway would be caught, the team went into work mode for Felline, but in the chaotic last kilometer, Felline lost Reijnen's wheel. When Reijnen kicked into action for the final lead-out, he was surprised when Felline did not come flying past.

 

Reijnen continued sprinting to the line, taking a solid 6th place for his long effort, but it was not the plan, as he explained in detail:

 

"Everyone helped a lot in the last 30 kilometers, although I did not feel so good today. I went to Fabio, and he said he had good legs so we kept the plan and everyone helped to keep us out of the wind and keep us hydrated because it was really hot again.

 

"Laurent (Didier) was super from 10 to 5 kilometers to go to keep us in the front. It was really hectic in the last kilometers again, lots of roundabouts and people standing in the street. It was crazy, so we stayed really close to the front for the last 10k.

 

"Laurent came on the radio and said Fabio was not on my wheel with around 4kms to go. So I waited and found Fabio again, but it was okay, it was a good moment still, so we moved up again. And then with 1k to go in the right-hand turn, I guess one rider who finished the lead-out was coming back, and it sounds like Fabio got caught behind him. I didn't know; it was too fast to look back, and so I assumed he was there.

 

"I saw that everyone was hesitating, and I knew it was the moment to start sprinting for the lead-out.

All the way until I crossed the line I was thinking that Fabio would come [around me].

 

”I finished 6th, but I wish I could have kept him in the wheel as we were in good position and I had a good round of speed. But that's sprinting. It was chaotic. Even when you have good legs, you also need to have the luck.

 

"You focus on the job and in a finish like that the plan can change really fast. But in my head, I was always thinking lead-out, and like I said, I didn’t even feel very good today. To have the role of lead-out was motivating me and keeping me fighting. If we get the chance to do it again, hopefully we do it better."

 

Schwarzmann: I was too far back

BORA – ARGON 18 worked in the peloton today to secure a bunch sprint for Michael Schwarzmann. It were José Mendes and Cesare Benedetti who spent a lot kilometres at the head of the peloton.

 

Michael Schwarzmann took the last corner in about 10th position. He sprinted to a good 7th place on the home straight.

 

“The final was really frantic and we lost each other several times. But that can happen in a sprint! I was too far back in the end. I hoped that I could still make it. The team did a great job again, like in the last days. They pulled hard in the front today. We really ride like a team here. But if you are nervous in the final and lose each other, you have to ride also in the wind sometimes to get back in front. I felt good today but did not have the right position in the end,” said Michael Schwarzmann

 

No third win for Meersman in Gandia

The gap of the escapees came down long before the final 100 kilometers, but began going up again as the teams decided to take it easy at the prospect of catching the quintet too early. Etixx – Quick-Step brought an important contribution at the front of the bunch, stretching out the peloton and chipping away the break's advantage, before eventually reeling in the five riders inside the final 10 kilometers.

 

The pulsating bunch sprint saw Gianni Meersman conclude the stage in 8th position, as Magnus Cort (Orica-BikeExchange) emerged victorious ahead of Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) and Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC). For Meersman, already a double stage winner at the Vuelta a España, this was his third top 10 finish in the past three weeks, without adding the victories he took in spectacular fashion in the towns of Baiona and Lugo, all these results making of the Belgian the most consistent sprinter in the race.


Sbaragli unable to finish off Dimension Data work at the Vuelta

Nic Dougall was Dimension Data’s man doing a massive amount of work on the front of the peloton today and the South African strongman was able to continue his pacing work right up until 11km to go, when the break was caught. Then the Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders focused their energy on delivering Kristian Sbaragli to a good position for the sprint finale.

 

It was a technical final 10km with numerous roundabouts, changes in direction and road width. Tyler Farrar showed his class though and was able to keep Jaco Venter and Sbaragli at the head of affairs and out of the wind coming into the last 3km. Sbaragli was then left to surf the wheels on the run in home and all looked very promising after the final right hand bend with 600m to go.

 

There was no team in real control of the sprint though and like the rest of the sprints at this year’s Vuelta, it was very much a lottery when trying to pick who might be the strongest wheel to follow. As the riders spread across the road before the line, you could throw a blanket over the top 10 contenders and Sbaragli had to settle for 9th at the finish.

 

Nic Dougall said:
 

“We were hoping a small break would go today so that those teams interested in a sprint, like us, would be able to keep things under control. That was exactly what happened but the five riders up front still got a gap of over 6 minutes, so there was some riding to be done from the peloton. After a really tough Vuelta, I was happy with how I was able to contribute today. Kristian was able to sprint for the win so that was good, that we were in contention once again. Now I’m looking forward to completing this home stretch we find ourselves in, with just 3 stages to go.”

 

Kenny Elissonde: To win the jersey I have to be aggressive

Kenny Elissonde (FD) retained the polka dot jersey. He said:

 

“It was a quiet day, a bit long (200km) but nothing has changed for the polka dot jersey. I did not think he would attack but Fraile still tried and I had to go get him. I think he wanted to get another couple of points but he eventually failed to go in the break. On Saturday, it will be a battle all day, in the four second-category climbs ahead of the final ascent. I’ll have to be aggressive and not rely too much on the last climb because there’s a possibility that Froome or another goes from far out to win the stage.”

 

Nairo Quintana: I don’t want to lose more than a minute in the TT

Heat and nerves were again the biggest rivals for Nairo Quintana and the Movistar Team during stage 18 of the Vuelta a España, a not-so-demanding route -only one Cat-2 climb in the 200km journey between Requena and Gandía-  which was nevertheless covered under high temperatures and some gusty winds that were close to breaking the peloton up. Quintana, well supported by team-mates Erviti, Sutherland and Rojas to practically the last 3km, did not have any troubles to finish at the first half of a bunch led home by Denmark’s Magnus Cort (OBE).

 

Quintana now tackles a trascendental TT on Friday, a 37km parcours between Jávea and Calpe which was sadly affected by fires in the Alicante province for the last few days. The route includes many treacherous sections, with two little climbs in the beginning followed by a never-ending succession of turns and pace changes through the last twenty kilometers. The challenging course promises to balance things for Quintana, who will defend his four-minute gap over Froome (SKY), Contador (TNK) and Chaves (OBE). IN the fight for the stage win, one from the Blues will have a nice shot: Jonathan Castroviejo, 4th in last month’s Olympic Games time trial.

 

Nairo Quintana said: 

 

“It was a bit nervous today with the slight crosswinds at the end, yet we got through safely, keeping attention and with a strong team that always took care of me. At this point of the race, my legs are still rolling well; you feel the tiredness, which is normal at this point of the season, with all races we went through since January. Let’s hope we can finish this race on a high and complete this challenge I set on myself - starting with tomorrow’s time trial.

 

“The new Canyon Speedmax TT bike makes me confident, and tomorrow’s route is not really flat; it shouldn’t favour so much my rivals to race a time trial where you’ve got to jump off the saddle, take several turns, change your place… it’s still a downside for me, yet not a big one. I hope I don’t have to eat these words tomorrow, but I’m confident that tomorrow’s lost might not be a matter of minutes, rather than seconds - I’ll lose time for sure, yet I hope it won’t be that much.

 

“We’re getting closer and closer: another day safe today, the two stages coming up are good for us - more in contrary, those are routes that suit me well - and we will give everything to keep this jersey.

 

“Tomorrow’s time-trial is quite long, but I don’t think it’s for the specialists, it has some uphill sections, it goes upside down and there are some turns. It’s a big personal challenge to clock a good time and defend my jersey with dignity. I would not want to lose more than a minute. I would say I’m getting closer to the title but there are still two important stages ahead and we have to be careful and wary of attacks on Saturday while tomorrow is more straightforward it’s each one on his bike. The red jersey obviously will obviously give adrenaline. It’s like a bonus. Usually we’d train for TT a couple of days before the race but now we have specific trainings on the TT bike.

 

“I feel good. For some riders, the condition gets worse in the third week, but you can see that with me it’s quite the contrary. I will defend my jersey tomorrow and with the team I have I don’t think we’ll have problems on Saturday. Tomorrow I will stay calm, go train in the morning and check out the course before coming back for warm-up.

 

“More than a minute would maybe be too much, but I’m in good condition. I would say that this is not a course for specialists, either, and that's the kind of course that suits me better.

 

“Friday is a one-to-one struggle and we'll have to see who has the legs. Starting last, too, as the leader, gives you an added advantage.

 

"I have done a lot more specific time trial training recently"and my sensations are very good. With some riders, you can see that their performances tend to slip in the third week of a Grand Tour, and that's usually when I'm at my strongest.

 

"Time trialling is a weak spot I have, but it's not as weak as it was. So I think I'll make a good defence of my lead, and then I'll be able to do the same on the ascent of Aitana on Saturday."

 

Frustrated Restrepo misses out in Vuelta sprint

In the mass sprint in Gandía Jhonathan Restrepo did his best to get a third top ten place in this Vuelta, but he got boxed in and finished 27th, far away from the spot he hoped for.

 

”We all know of course that I am not a sprinter, but I tried again to see how far I could reach. It was a bit a mess in the last kilometers because of some roundabouts. I touched wheels with someone and arrived in the back. My sprint was over before it had to start. But I tried and I am happy that Team KATUSHA did their best to bring me safely to the finale. It didn’t work out like we wanted, but we tried. The stage was also harder than we thought with the heat and the strong head wind all day long,” said Jhonathan Restrepo.

 

“This finish was too crazy. A lot of people wanted to be at the front and took too many risks. We couldn’t finish in a better position. My team mates were helping me a bit and in the chaos we chose the wrong wheel. We were too far behind”.

 

Prades: I didn’t have the power

As expected, Thursday's stage 18 of Vuelta a España finished in a bunch sprint next to the beach in Gandía. Caja Rural - Seguros RGA's Eduard Pradescrossed the line in 18thplace as Magnus Cort (Orica) took the win.
 
In the general classification, Sergio Pardilla still sits in 13th place, 11:13 minutes behind the leading rider, Nairo Quintana (Movistar).”
 
Eduard Prades said: 

 

"This was a hard stage due to the heat and the long distance (200 km). Unfortunately, I didn't have good legs for the sprint. My teammates did well to support me but I just didn't have the power to do any better today". 

 

Lampre-Merida again on the attack at the Vuelta

Without having a pure spinter, LAMPRE-MERIDA succeeded anyway in showing the blue-fuchsia-green colors and they did it in the same way they had done during the whole Spanish race, by attacking.

It was once again Cattaneo’s turn to join the main breakaway. the Italian rider, who had already attacked in the 4th and in the 14th stage, escaped from the peloton with four riders but was caught with 31km to go.

 

In the final sprint, Arashiro crossed the line in 20th.

 

Vervaeke: The headwind destroyed our chances

In stage eighteen of the Vuelta four riders set up the break after only eight kilometres. Louis Vervaeke placed a counter attack and joined the break shortly after. The young Belgian rider and his companions were caught with ten kilometres to go. Jelle Wallays was the first Lotto Soudal rider to cross the finish. He was 21st and Tosh Van der Sande finished 24th.

 

Louis Vervaeke said: 

 

“The plan of the team was to have at least one rider in the breakaway today. We didn’t want to wait for a bunch sprint today. So when four riders attacked I decided to bridge. I hoped that some more riders would join us, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.  The five of us decided to keep up a rather slow pace until the first climb. Once we started the climb we went all the way. It’s too bad that we had a lot of headwind and many kilometres on the highway in the end. That’s why we didn’t manage to stay away and got reeled in with ten kilometres to go.”

 

Maxime Monfort added:

 

"It was a transitional stage as planned. Physically and mentally, the pack needed it before the time trial and Saturday's mountain stage.”

 

Froome well-protected on long day in the Vuelta

Chris Froome emerged safely from a quiet stage 18 at the Vuelta a Espana to remain second overall ahead of the race's crucial time trial.

 

Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica-BikeExchange) won the bunch sprint to seal the Australian team's third stage win of the Vuelta, while Christian Knees led Team Sky home in 23rd, with Froome a further nine places back.

 

It was a tight and technical final two kilometres into Gandia, but there was no problems in the peloton, and the sprint unfolded without any drama.

 

Michal Golas and Salvatore Puccio did a fine job of keeping Froome safe, before Knees took over and sheltered him to the line, helping Froome to hold steady in second overall, 3:37 off race leader Nairo Quintana.

 

All eyes now turn to the stage 19 time trial, a flat 37km test from Xabia to Calp that is likely to cause movement on the General Classification.


LottoNL-Jumbo eye success with Campenaerts in Vuelta TT

After several stages of lighting up the front end of the Vuelta a España, the LottoNL-Jumbo men enjoyed a quiet 18th stage to Gandia. Magnus Cort Nilsen (Orica) won the stage ahead of Nikias Arndt (Giant) and Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC) in a sprint. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) remained in the overall lead.

 

"The stage went well for us, we had no ambition to jump on a day like today,” said Sports Director Addy Engels. “You can sit in the front group, get in the break, but it’s good for nothing – this was a clear sprint stage. We decided to stay in the group together and support each other.

 

"Stages like today can be relatively easy, so our men can save a little for the coming days. Campenaerts is looking forward to tomorrow, Bennett and Gesink know that Saturday it can happen for them. 

 

"Tankink is still recovering from yesterday and it is important for Keizer and Bouwman to rest and think of Madrid on Sunday."

 

On the roads towards Gandia, the wind blew properly.

 

"It surprised me that Etixx tried to make some echelons. It was a small part of the race and it was still a long way to the finish, but it did not cause problems in the peloton. Bennett survived well in the first group."

 

The Vuelta programmed a 37-kilometre time trial for tomorrow in Calpe.

 

"Victor Campenaerts can not wait to start tomorrow, before we go to the hotel, we are going to see a bit of it in the car. The stage will not surprise many because they come here to train in the winter.

 

“It will be the first time for Campenaerts to race a time trial in a grand tour, so we want to see what he can do. He is motivated, at least for tomorrow."

 

Astana: Sanchez is motivated for the time trial

"It was a long stage with a very fast finish. In the peloton the fatigue began to be felt but we are ready for the final challenge,” said Alessandro Vanotti.

 

"We know the roads of tomorrow's time trial because in winter we train in this area. Luis Leon Sanchez is very motivated, while Michele Scarponi has the experience for a great race time trial."

 

Cannondale expect Talansky to benefit from Vuelta time trial

Pierre Rolland rode himself into the Vuelta a España stage 18 breakaway that gained a maximum advantage of six minutes over the peloton. The escape group was caught in the final 10 kilometers, setting the scene for a sprint into Gandía. Magnus Cort (ORICA-BikeExchange) won the fast finish. Cannondale-Drapac general contenders Andrew Talansky and Davide Formolo finished safely in the peloton.

 

“It was a stressful day,” said Talansky as he cooled down on the rollers follow Thursday’s stage. “There were narrow roads, exposed windy sections. I’m happy to get through it so that I can focus on the time trial.”

 

Friday’s individual time trial is a 37-kilometer effort between Xàbia and Calp. Talansky starts the stage in sixth overall. Formolo is two spots further back in eighth place. Talansky, who was American time trial champion in 2015, has the opportunity to make gains on the general classification in the race against the clock.

 

“It’s a time trial that suits him quite well,” said sport director Johnny Weltz. “If Andrew produces the kind of ride he is capable of, it’s very possible that he will move on the general classification.”

 

“For Davide, the time trial presents more of a challenge, but if he rides the way has been riding the last three weeks, he will be around the mark,” said Weltz. “Davide needs to keep things simple. That’s the key. We need to treat tomorrow like any other day of the Vuelta.”

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