In Montilla on Friday, Quentin Pacher took his second top-10 on the 2022 Vuelta. On the final, slight uphill sprint, the Frenchman showed his puncher’s abilities, and made room for himself behind the sprinters to grab a very decent sixth place. The team now heads to a tough week-end, with two summit finishes on the menu.

Before tackling a very mountainous weekend, the Vuelta peloton was set to cover a 13th stage without too many obstacles on Friday. Although the profile wasn’t all flat, it still interested the sprinters who quickly made their intentions clear. “We saw straight away that all the sprinters’ teams were in control at the start of the stage,” said Philippe Mauduit. “When it’s like that, you can be sure there will be at least four or five teams to chase in the peloton. In these conditions, you also know that the breakaway has little chance of making it to the end. Everyone actually understood it, because there was only one attack, by three riders. The peloton then maintained the breakaway between two and three minutes all day, and it was guaranteed that we would arrive for a sprint”.It was a pretty straightforward day”, confirmed Quentin Pacher. “Since there aren’t a lot of chances for them in this Vuelta, the sprinters’ teams did what they had to do.” In the lead, Julius van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost), Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH) and Joan Bou (Euskalte-Euskadi) led the way for almost 140 kilometres, but the peloton had no trouble in catching them ten kilometres from the line, before entering the final. On a slight uphill road with five kilometres remaining, Bruno Armirail first positioned his teammates. Then, Miles Scotson tried to bring Fabian Lienhard back up shortly before the flamme rouge. Eventually, the bunch arrived in the last 700 metres: a long, slight uphill to the line.

“We can be happy that Quentin is back to an interesting level”, Philippe Mauduit

“We were rather focused on Fabian, but when he had to give a last kick with 350 metres to go, he suffered from cramps”, explained Philippe. “However, in the final, Quentin and him encouraged each other to go for the sprint, and they both benefited from the work of the team. They did well, because when Fabian was out of the sprint, Quentin was there in the mix and was able to do his own sprint”. In fifteenth position or so with 300 metres to go, the French puncher overtook some riders in the last moments to eventually get sixth place, a few bike lengths behind the winner and green jersey Mads Pedersen. “It was a bit of a Spanish sprint, a hard one, with a tortuous final”, said Quentin. “These finishes suit me well, even if it was easier than the stage in La Guardia. The day had less climbing, it was less intense, and the finish was also less steep. It therefore suited more the sprinters than the punchers, but it is a nice place which is always good to take”. “We are not going to be satisfied with a sixth place, but we can be happy that Quentin is back to an interesting level after his gastrointestinal problems”, said Philippe. “That’s the first time in days that he feels well again. It is good news that he managed to overcome this difficulty during a Grand Tour. The guys also showed that they were back in the game today. As a team, it was pretty good today. It’s important with the weekend that comes.”

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