After having momentarily taken the lead of the race on stage 14, helping Michael Storer to enter the right move, Clément Davy experienced a proper breakaway on Friday during stage 19 of the Vuelta. Towards Íscar, the 25-year-old Frenchman couldn’t avoid the anticipated bunch sprint, but he was the last attacker to be caught, just twenty kilometres from the line. After a chaotic sprint, Lewis Askey obtained his third top-10 on the race (7th) while Alberto Dainese took the win.

Following three consecutive summit finishes, the Vuelta returned to easier terrain on Friday, with stage 19 heading towards Íscar, in Castile and Leon. The day included 177 kilometres but no climb at all. “It was a flat stage so we could expect that it would finish in a sprint, but we also know that the peloton sometimes struggles to catch breakaways in the third week,” explained Benoît Vaugrenard. “Clément was motivated for today.” The former French junior time trial champion therefore went for it, and after a handful of minutes, joined a breakaway of four riders including Paul Lapeira, Mathis Le Berre and Michal Schlegel. “After spending many years alongside Arnaud controlling the peloton and the breakaways, I have always been keen to do the opposite, knowing that this effort suits me well,” said the rider from Mayenne. “So I really wanted to be in the breakaway today. For me, it wasn’t just a last stand. In the third week of a Grand Tour, anything is possible with fatigue, knowing that the sprinters’ teams were also weakened after some abandons and all the kilometres done. And then: nothing ventured, nothing gained.” The four riders’ lead almost reached three minutes after fifteen kilometres of racing, but it was then immediately maintained around two minutes. “Unfortunately, we quickly understood that Alpecin-Deceuninck did not want to give them space,” confessed Benoît.

“I didn’t want to have any regrets this evening”, Clément Davy

From then on, the kilometres followed one another without the attackers being able to really get any hopes of success. The peloton even came back to less than a minute with more than fifty kilometres to go. “I think we managed our day really well,” claimed Clément. “If they gave us so little time, maybe that’s because we also scared them a bit. We put on a good fight, and we can’t have any regrets in how we handled it. I wasn’t feeling super, but it came back as the kilometres passed by. Then, the peloton always decides, especially on this kind of profile and with a front wind all day. There wasn’t much to do, and we surely started with a disadvantage. The intermediate sprint didn’t help either. As it was located so close to the finish, the peloton wanted to contest it”. Approaching the last twenty kilometres, the pack came back really close from the break, but Clément Davy kept pushing, found himself alone, and was able to take first position at the intermediate sprint before being caught. “I didn’t want to have any regrets tonight, and I don’t,” he concluded. “I got my breakaway, on a flat stage but which suited me. I had to believe in it. I’m happy with my day anyway, as it was a good and fast ride. I am also happy to have been part of this breakaway with two other French guys who I was fighting with a few years ago in the amateur bunch.”

“I didn’t make the right decisions,” Lewis Askey

Once all together, the bunch headed towards the expected sprint, but a significant crash in the last two kilometres especially brought the day’s favourite Kaden Groves to the ground. The Groupama-FDJ’s riders managed to get through it. “We wanted to sprint with Sam,” Benoît added. “Lewis was supposed to lead him out but there was a small mix-up following the crash, which disorganized the peloton. Lewis didn’t know where Sam was”. “My legs were sore after yesterday’s stage, but I felt better at the end,” said Lewis. “I avoided the crash, but I looked behind and I only saw a guy from Cofidis in my wheel. I figured Sam had crashed because I didn’t hear from him. Afterwards, I didn’t really know what to do and I remained in the middle. When Alberto Dainese overtook me, I hesitated too much and found myself in the wind with no speed. I still managed a strong sprint today, but I didn’t make the right decisions in the end.” Eventually the team’s first man on the line, Lewis Askey took seventh place while Sam Watson finished sixteenth. On Saturday, the penultimate stage of the Vuelta will look like a roller coaster with ten climbs and no flat metres. It will also be the ultimate opportunity for the climbers and punchers.

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