Patrick Bevin had a long wait in the hot seat but in the end took a fine second place in the individual time trial at the Vuelta a Espana. Primož Roglič took the stage win for Jumbo-Visma and with it a commanding lead in the general classification.
The first stage following the rest day of the Vuelta a Espana was a 36.2km challenge that had plenty of scope to throw up some decent sized time gaps. It was a day that began with a 2km climb followed by another short ramp and then a subtle climb at the finish; plenty of potential for massive shifts among the overall standings.
Early strong times were few and far between, but it was Deceuninck-QuickStep’s Remi Cavagna who set the benchmark highest. Cavagna, who started the day 100th overall, sped through the course to stop the clock in 47.32mins. The Frenchman’s time lasted for over half an hour before Patrick Bevin took on the course.
After not being able to put himself to the test in the Tour de France’s individual time trial, this was the opportunity Bevin had long been waiting for. The New Zealand National Time Trial champion was marginally faster through the course and finally arrived at the final kilometre or two with a tantalisingly close contest between himself and Cavagna for the lead that would go down to the wire.
Bevin caught both riders ahead of him and faced a very tense sprint to try and overthrow the lead of Remi Cavagna, but he did so; crossing the line just 2 seconds faster than the Deceuninck-QuickStep rider. His average speed of 45.7kph saw him finish the stage in a time of 47.30mins. It would be a time that lasted almost the entire rest of the stage as each one of the next 63 riders tried and failed to come close to his time.
The times for the general classification contenders would be of prime importance, with the top four sitting on a knife edge; with just 20 seconds separating them. By the end of the day big time gaps would have opened up, but how big those time gaps would be; and who would be sitting in the best spots would predictably raise eyebrows.
Primož Roglič met his billing as the pre-stage favourite, and favourite to take the overall lead in the race; and he did so emphatically. The Slovenian stopped the clock 25 seconds clear of Patrick Bevin and would move into the red jersey as Nairo Quintana was among the many to lose significant time.
Alejandro Valverde was the closest of the GC contenders, finishing 13th on the stage 1.38mins behind Roglič. He now sits 1.52mins behind Roglič overall, but significantly 1.08mins ahead of his teammate and former race leader Quintana who conceded 3.06mins; finishing 27th on the stage, just ahead of George Bennett who moved up to 13th overall. Miguel Angel Lopez remains third overall but now 3 minutes behind the Slovenian.
Quintana dropped from the overall lead to 4th, with Tadej Pogačar of UAE Team Emirates still fifth at 3.05mins. Rafal Majka moved up to 7th behind Carl Fredrik Hagen of Lotto Soudal, with Nicolas Edet of Cofidis down a place to 8th at 5.49mins, with Dylan Teuns of Bahrain Merida up to 9th and Wilco Kelderman of Team Sunwebdown to 10th at 6.25mins.
More to come . . .