Vuelta a España: Hard day in the Andalusian mountains
David De La Cruz continues to be the highest-placed Quick-Step Floors rider in the overall standings, after 14 stages.
Vuelta a España's second summit finish took the riders up Sierra de la Pandera, which featured for only the fifth time in history on the course. The stage, marked by blistering heat, had two separate focus points: the fight for the win, which was nabbed by Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) from the breakaway, and the battle between the general classification contenders, who went out to the attack on the final part of the 12km-long Hors Catégorie climb, which averaged 7.3%.
David De La Cruz stayed with the other favourites until the last three kilometers, when he lost contact with the red jersey group, once the others began trading accelerations. The 28-year-old Spaniard showed remarkable mental strength, as he paced himself and fought hard to limit the losses on the tough slopes of La Pandera, even clawing back time at one point; despite conceding seconds at the top of the ascent and slipping slightly down in the rankings, David – who is now sitting in seventh overall – is still on course for his best ever result in a Grand Tour.
Winner in Tarragona (where he became the 100th rider in history to boast stage victories in all Grand Tours), Alhama de Murcia and Tomares, Matteo Trentin retained the green jersey after Saturday's brutal stage, and he will now sport it for the ninth time at this edition, on Sunday, when the race will head to Sierra Nevada for a summit finish on Monachil, another Hors Catégorie climb, which averages 5.6% over 19.3 kilometers.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele