Olivier Le Gac started the second week of the Vuelta in the same way he completed the first one: on the attack. In stage 10, along the Andalusían coast, the Frenchman could this time fight for the stage victory. However, he was unable to match the best climbers of a very large breakaway that only went after seventy kilometres of racing. He eventually took 15th place on the day. On Wednesday, the peloton will return to the short but brutal climb of Valdepenas de Jaen.
In the aftermath of the rest day, the riders did not resume the Vuelta in the smoothest way at the start Roquetas de Mar. Due to a particular race profile, and therefore to the day’s uncertain outcome, a large part of the peloton indeed wanted to break away today. “We also wanted to have someone in the front,” said Olivier Le Gac. “At first it was not clear whether this was really a stage for the breakaway or whether Matthews or Cort’s teams were going to control. Then, we saw they were also trying to put riders in front, including these same riders”. So it became clear early on that no one would take on the chase, and almost every team did not want to miss the right escape. “Therefore, it took a long time for the break to go,” Olivier added. “There was a big fight and we tried to join the moves and not get caught behind”. “It was very fast for over sixty kilometers and then a breakaway of 31 riders went with Olivier inside,” said Franck Pineau. “Once again, we did our best to be up the road, and hats off to Olivier because it was not easy to be in front today”. At the head of the race, the man from Brest found himself with quite a few big names. “When I saw the contenders in the group, I realized it was going to be difficult,” he said. “There were very good climbers but also some sprinters who can climb well”.
“I have no regrets”, Olivier Le Gac
In the back, the peloton paid no attention to the breakaway and Primoz Roglic even voluntarily gave his red jersey away. For the stage victory, everything was supposed to come down to the last thirty kilometers, which featured the Puerto de Almachar, the day’s only climb, as well as the downhill towards Rincón de la Victoria. “Everyone was taking their quick turn in the break, but a lot of teams had three riders,” explained Franck. “Olivier was on his own, so I asked him to look around, to recover well and not to do too much. Then, it was just a very hard climb to finish with”. This decisive climb featured two different parts, the second one being a five kilometre-portion averaging 9% of gradient. “In the first part, I let the others fight, and then I tried to put myself in the best possible position for the steep part,” said Olivier. “At that point, there were some attacks and I took my own pace. I fought hard to the top and tried to do a good descent. I gave it my all and held on as much as I could not to have any regrets.” The former stage winner on the 4 Jours de Dunkerque came against better climbers than him on Tuesday and eventually crossed the line two minutes after the winner and future team member Michael Storer.
“He was not really on his favourite terrain in the final, but he did not give up and his 15th place at the finish is still very decent,” concluded Franck Pineau. “We can’t be satisfied,” confessed Olivier, “but I have no regrets knowing the riders that were in front of me. I gave everything I had. It was a good day, but we’ll have to do better than 15th place. Personally, this is my second breakaway in three days, so the shape is good. We are going to go back on the attack and hope to be a little more successful to get a nice result”. “There are eleven stages left and we hope to win one,” confirmed Franck. “In order to do that, we need to go back in the front and keep fighting”. On Wednesday, the shortest road stage of the Vuelta is on the menu with only 133 kilometers towards the “wall” of Valdepenas de Jaen.