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Gallery: Bardet tames Pico Villuercas to win Stage 14 at the Vuelta

Frenchman takes first Grand Tour win in four years after timing assault on summit finish perfectly

Martin James
29 Aug 2021

Romain Bardet (Team DSM) rolled back the clock to claim his first Grand Tour win for four years on Stage 14 of the 2021 Vuelta a Espana yesterday.

Having dropped out of GC contention when he lost 12 minutes after a big crash on Stage 5, Bardet was part of an 18-man break that went early on the 165.7km stage starting in Don Benito and never looked like being reeled in.

The group predictably disintegrated on the final climb to the summit finish of Pico Villuercas, as repeated attacks quickly distanced the less adept climbers in their ranks.

But Bardet kept his cool, letting the initial moves go then hitting the front himself with 6km to go. From that point the victory was never in doubt and the Frenchman finished 44 seconds clear of Jesús Herrada for his first ever Vuelta stage win and his first Grand Tour success since Stage 12 of the 2017 Tour de France.

With it came the polka dot jersey of mountains points leader, with Bardet understandably delighted afterwards. 'We really played smart with Matt [Winston], my sports director. He told me exactly when to attack on the steepest ramp as if the finish was just 200m away,' he told Eurosport afterwards. 

'I’ve been second too many times. Today I went full gas to be in a good breakaway. I knew that if I could get the king of the mountains jersey too it’d be a double bonus, and I've made the day my own.'

Ineos Grenadiers’ Tom Pidcock, also in the break, produced a similar kind of ride to finish fourth after looking like being seriously distanced earlier on the climb.

Bardet was already over the line when the GC favourites in the peloton hit the business end of the stage themselves.

Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), second overall, was the first to try a meaningful attack, looking to gain the 58 seconds he needed to wrestle the red jersey from leader Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert).

Then a far more dangerous attack came from Miguel Ángel López of Movistar, which saw a major selection made among his rivals behind. López would be the first across the line from the main field, but in the end gained just four seconds on an elite quartet of Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), Movistar teammate Enric Mas, Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) and Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious).

Eiking wasn’t with them, but rode well to limit his losses to just 20 seconds and remain comfortably in the red jersey. Martin did gain 4 seconds to close the gap slightly, but Roglič remains the favourite for the race overall, sitting third at 1:36sec with a huge final week of racing ahead.

As always, photographer Chris Auld captured the sights and sounds from the day on camera…

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