Matteo Trentin has taken his second stage win of this year’s Vuelta a Espana, winning ahead of Jose Joaquin Rojas and Jaime Roson but the general classification battle came back into view with Nicolas Roche of BMC Racing putting 29 seconds into Chris Froome to move within 36 seconds of the red jersey.

Stage 10 of the Vuelta a Espana took the field on a journey of 164.8km from Caravaca Jubilar to Elpozo Alimentacion.  The ride featured one major obstacle which took the form of some 20km of climbing that officially comprised a category 3 and category 1 climb lumped together.  Maybe it was the lack of obstacles beforehand, or the fact that so many riders wanted a piece of the action.  Whatever the case, it took 90km of the 164.8km for a breakaway to make their way up the road.  

The move was full of teams with multiple riders.  Quick-Step Floors had Niki Terpstra and Matteo Trentin, Movistar had Jose Joaquin Rojas and Marc Soler, AG2R La Mondiale had Nico Denz and Alexandre Geniez, LottoNL-Jumbo had Bert-Jan Lindeman and Juanjo Lobato, Bahrain-Merida had Valerio Angoli and Domen Novak; and Caja Rural had Rafael Reis and Jaime Roson.  There were a number of other riders including Jacques Janse Van Rensburg of Dimension Data, Michael Morkov of Katusha-Alpecin and Alessandro De Marchi of BMC Racing.

With no threats to the overall lead of Chris Froome, the break were allowed to go up the road and establish a very healthy advantage that held at over 5 minutes for much of the stage.  But it would be the first category 3 climb where the activity in the break started, courtesy of an attack from Van Rensburg.  The Dimension Data was unafraid to go alone from 37km out and he proceeded to put a little time into the rest of the break.  Back in the peloton the pace setting was shared by Team Sky, BMC Racing, Bahrain-Merida and Orica-SCOTT; with Sam Bewley able to maintain his position at the front for a good while on the climb.

Progressively though Team Sky began to up the tempo to assert a little more control over the race.  Up ahead with 28km to go the gap to the red jersey group was 5.30mins, but Van Rensburg had found company in Jose Joaquin Rohas and Jaime Roson.  The latter was in no mood to mess about either; quickly going on the attack and trying to go solo himself.  Meanwhile Matteo Trentin was making an effort to go across himself.  Also Bahrain-Merida were beginning to make a move to take control of the race; perhaps with a view to set Nibali up for an attack.

One has to wonder how the GC contenders let Nicolas Roche slip up the road and gain significant time in the GC battle! Whatever the reason, Roche did everything right, denting the deficit to Chris Froome, photo Sirotti

The leaders had about 28 seconds in hand on the second group on the road which featured Luis Leon Sanchez and Alessandro De Marchi.  As the climb drew towards its end the leaders began to cooperate a lot more efficiently together.  They crested the climb with a lead of 4.32mins over the bunch.  From there a big chase effort was made by Marc Soler and Alexandre Geniez to get across to the leaders, but their problem was that on the damp descent many things could go wrong.

Back in the bunch Vincenzo Nibali now made his attack.  The Italian had Gianni Moscon on his wheel, with no GC contenders under real pressure just yet, but from here Nibali now faced the descent; and the prospect of putting more time into his rivals if he pressed on with his attacks.  But initially it looked like Nibali wasn’t too keen to press on with his attack with Chris Froome and Esteban Chaves on hand.

Nibali did succeed in building a slight lead, and Froome opted not to chase too furiously either, allowing Nicolas Roche to lead the chase effort.  The Irishman duly did and then proceeded to lay the pressure down himself.  Up ahead though Rojas and Trentin were establishing a lead over Van Rensburg and Roson.  The two leaders enjoyed a 30 second lead with 6km remaining, and it looked like the stage was decided.  With 3km to go the duo were working well together and charging on, not wanting to wait around or play games.  

Under the kite with 1km to go Rojas led the way and Trentin shadowed him well, now able to play the tactical game.  This time the allegiances were out the window, but Rojas still kept a reasonable pace, but then Rojas opened up the sprint early and Matteo Trentin simply held the wheel and breezed past him to claim a second stage win.  Jose Joaquin Rojas, for all his talent and ability has still yet to win a stage in any grand tour.  Jaime Roson crossed the line a very frustrated third place ahead of Van Rensburg, while Geniez completed the top five.

Interestingly though the red jersey group had seen fit to allow Nicolas Roche a little daylight on the descent, something the cameras didn’t catch.  Roche took full advantage of being able to go forward, building a lead of 29 seconds over the red jersey group.  The result was that Roche drew level on time with Esteban Chaves, with the pair 36 seconds behind Chris Froome overall.

Sam Bewley was the first of the Kiwis across the line, leading home a large group containing Romain Bardet, Yves Lampaert and Ian Stannard.  George Bennett crossed the line in a small group containing Caja Rural riders, just ahead of Aaron Gate, with Tom Scully the final Kiwi finishing in the company of teammates Toms Skujins, Simon Clarke and William Clarke.


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