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Stopping the clock in 46.01, Dumoulin beat Bodnar by a massive 1.04 in the Vuelta a Espana time trial to take both the stage win and move into the race lead with a 3-second advantage over Aru who finished 10th

Photo: Sirotti

ALEJANDRO VALVERDE

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MACIEJ BODNAR

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TEAM SUNWEB

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TOM DUMOULIN

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VUELTA A ESPAÑA

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09.09.2015 @ 18:17 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) fully lived up to expectations by crushing the opposition in the Vuelta a Espana time trial. The Dutchman covered the 38.7km course in 46.01 which was a massive 1.04 faster than Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff-Saxo) and 1.08 faster than a resurgent Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). More importantly, he beat Fabio Aru (Astana) by 1.53 which was enough to take the lead with a 3-second advantage while Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) is now 1.15 behind in third.

 

At the start of the Vuelta a Espana, no one had mentioned Tom Dumoulin as a potential winner of the race, not even himself. In fact his main goal was to win the stage 17 time trial while he would also like to test himself in some of the classics stages along the way.

 

Today Dumoulin reached his pre-race goal when he took a dominant win in the time trial but the stage suddenly carried much more importance than he had initially thought. With an impressive ride in the mountains, he had surprised himself by sitting in fourth, jut 1.51 behind overall leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and found himself in pole position to take the lead.

 

Suddenly, Dumoulin was also eyeing the red jersey and the overall win and after today’s performance he finds himself in the hugely unexpected situation of leading the race. However, everything is set for a fantastic end to the race as Fabio Aru put in a fantastic performance to finish the stage in 10th and now only trails the Dutchman by 3 seconds.

 

Maciej Bodnar had led the stage almost all day after he had covered the flat 38.7km course in Burgos in 47.05 and for most of the day, no one was even close to matching his pace. Lots of riders were faster than the Pole at the first time check but the Tinkoff-Saxo domestique had been flying in the second half of the course.

 

When Vasil Kiryienka (Sky) was unable to beat Bodnar, it became apparent that only Dumoulin would probably be able to pose a threat. The Dutchman immediately showed that he was up for the challenge as he was 9 seconds faster than Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida) at the first check where the Portuguese had the best time.

 

The big question was whether Dumoulin would be able to match Bodnar in the second part but when he reached the second time check, the fight for the stage win was over. Dumoulin was a massive 38 seconds faster than Bodnar and he continued to gain time in the technical finale to stop the clock in a time that was 1.04 faster.

 

All the way through, it looked like he would take a comfortable lead in the overall standings as he only needed to gain another six seconds on Aru in the third part of the course. However, the Italian surprised most by delivering a fantastic finale and in a thrilling finale he reached the finish in 10th, missing out on the race lead by just 3 seconds.

 

Joaquim Rodriguez was a big loser as he could only manage 30th and dropped from first to third, 1.15 behind Dumoulin. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) did worse than expected but managed to defend his fourth place with a 17th place on the stage.

 

The other big winners were the Movistar riders as Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana both did great time trials. The Spaniard was flying in the technical final part and finished the stage in third while the Colombian did the time trial of his life to finish 16th. Quintana is now fifth and Valverde sixth in the overall standings.

 

Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) also did the TT of his life and now sits in seventh overall while Mikel Nieve (Sky) lost a lot of time as most had expected. The Basque climber suffered on the bad roads and slipped from fifth to ninth.

 

Dumoulin will try to defend his lead in tomorrow’s stage 18 which is a mostly flat run with just two small category 3 climbs. However, the riders face a category 1 climb which summits just 13km from the finish from where it is a downhill run to the line.

 

A flat course

After three big mountain stages and a well-deserved rest day, it was time for one of the most important stages in the Vuelta when the riders tackled the 38.7km time trial in Burgos. The course had a bit of elevation changes but was mostly flat. The first part was on long, straight roads while the second part was extremely technical.

 

It was a sunny day in Burgos when Boy van Poppel (Trek) rolled down the ramp as the first rider. He managed to reach the finish first in a time of 53.18 but just four second later Gediminas Bagdonas (Ag2r) arrived. The Lithuanian had started four minutes later and was the first rider on the course but his time of 49.22 would be the one to beat.

 

Best time for Bodnar

Martijn Keizer (LottoNL) stopped the clock in 49.34 to slot into second while Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar) was third with a time of 50.46. However, most had their eyes on former U23 world champion Damien Howson (Orica-GreenEDGE) who was expected to pose a threat. Howere, the Australian was 22 seconds behind at the first time check and when he reached the finish, he could only manage 49.32, missing out on the lead by 10 seconds.

 

Gatis Smukulis (Katusha) slotted into fourth with 50.10 after having been passed by a flying Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff-Saxo). The Pole had gone through every time check much faster than Bagdonas and when he reached the finish his time of 47.05 was 2.17 faster than the one set by the Lithuanian.

 

Good ride by Rosskopf

Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL) was on a good day as his time of 49.32 was enough to slot into fourth while Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r) cracked the top 6 with 49.51 after Antoine Duchesne (Europcar) had also had a good ride with 50.27. Jasper de Buyst (Lotto Soudal) could also make it into the top 10 with a fine time of 50.30.

 

Johann van Zyl (MTN-Qhubeka) was three seconds faster to become the next rider to make it into the best 10. However, everybody was waiting for Joey Rosskopf (BMC) to reach the finish as he had had very good time checks. In the end, his time of 49.19 was enough to move into second.

 

Irizar slots into second

Fighting for the teams classification, Imanol Erviti (Movistar) had been asked to go full gas and the effort paid off with a time of 49.39 that was enough for seventh. That was also enough to beat one of the his teams GC rivals, Christian Knees (Sky) who was 8 seconds slower in 8th.

 

The next serious challenge was expected to come from Markel Irizar (Trek) and he fully lived up to expectations as he stopped the clock in 49.02 to slot into second, albeit still 1.47 off the pace. Mike Teunissen (LottoNL) and Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) both did well to slot into the top 20.

 

Kiryienka and Cummings miss out

Niki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickSteo) had been slightly off the pace at the intermediate checks but the Dutchman finished extremely well to stop the clock in 48.44, enough to push Irizar into third. However, that result was only based on the fact that he had been caught by a very strong Stephen Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka). The Brit had been the fastest at the first check but was 35 seconds behind at the second and when he reached the finish he had to settle for second with a time loss of 36 seconds.

 

Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEDGE) did well to move into the top 20 with 50.00 and Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEDGE) slotted into ninth with 49.33. However, it was Vasil Kiryienka (Sky) that everybody was waiting for. The Belarusian was one of the favourites and he had been 8 seconds faster than Bodnar at the first check. At the second, he was 23 seconds behind though and when he reached the finish, his time of 47.32 was only good enough for second.

 

A fight for the teams GC

Javier Moreno was one of many Movistar riders to do a fantastic time trial as he slotted into sixth with 49.14. Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEDGE) was on track for a great stage as he posted some excellent split times but a crash took him out of contention.

 

Salvatore Puccio (Sky) continued the fight for the teams classification as he slotted into sixth with 49.07 but he was quickly relegated by Pieter Serry (Etixx-QuickStep) who was just one second faster. Moments later, it was another star rider to shine as Geraint Thomas moved up from time check to check to ultimately reach the finish in fourth, 1.24 behind Bodnar.

 

Great rider by Coppel

Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida) had a solid ride as he moved into fifth with 48.39 while Andrey Amador (Movistar) was the next rider to fight for the teams classification with a seventh place. Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto Soudal) used the stage as an important test for the Worlds and his time of 48.37 sa him slot into a fine fifth.

 

Riccardo Zoidl (Trek) narrowly lost out on a spot in the top 10 while a bruised Sylvain Chavanel (IAM) did surprisingly well to move into 8th. However, it was another IAM Frenchman that got the attention as Jerome Coppel had been fastest at the first check before slotting into third, 28 seconds off the pace

 

Oliveira fades

Tiago Machado (Katusha) was the next rider to make it into the top 10 with the 8th best time but he was beaten by compatriot Jose Goncalves (Caja Rural) who was slightly faster. One of the pre-race favourites Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) was on a bad day as he could only manage sixth.

 

Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida) had got some attention as he had posted the best time at the first check but he faded in the finale and had to settle for the fourth best time. Maxime Monfort (Lotto Soudal) had a fine ride as he slotted into 14th.

 

Valverde makes big comeback

The GC battle had now heated up and the first overall contender to do well was Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis) who stopped the clock in 48.32 to slot into seventh. However, it was another Frenchman who made a big surprise as Romain Sicard (Europcar) stopped the clock in 47.37 to move into fourth.

 

Already from the very start it had been clear that Alejandro Valverde was on a great day and he improved from time check to time check. In the end, he was very close to taking the lead as he only missed out by four seconds.

 

Quintana surprises

Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka) lost plenty of time but managed to hold Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r) off in the fight for 10th place. He was nearly caught by Nairo Quintana who did the TT of his life to slot into fifth.

 

Daniel Moreno (Katusha) was one of the losers as he could only manage 19th and slipped to 8th in the overall standings. Moments later, Esteban Chaves powered across the line with the 16th best time, clearly the time trial of his life.

 

Dumoulin takes it all

Dumoulin had passed Nieve early in the stage and nearly caught Chaves too, stopping the clock in 46.01 to take a comfortable lead. It took a long time for Majka to reach the finish, slotting into 16th.

 

As soon as the camera showed Aru, it was evident that it was going to be closer than expected and in the end the Italian was only three seconds from taking the lead. Finally, Rodriguez did his best to limit his losses but a time of 49.07 was only good enough for 30th.

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