When Sam Bewley is your road captain in a breakaway that’s motoring along at an average speed of more than 50kph you know that there are few safer pairs of hands to be in. We got to chat to the Mitchelton-SCOTT man after one of the toughest days in the saddle; which is saying something considering it wasn’t even a mountain stage!
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RC: First of all, of all the days to get into a break you, Dion Smith, Esteban Chaves and Damien Howson picked this one! What a day out in the saddle, how are the legs feeling after an effort like that?
Sam: Yeah that was a big day, it wasn’t so much a break but more just a split. It was super, super windy today and crosswinds from the start. It was in the gutter from the start and after 2km the first split of 40 formed. We had 4 guys in there initially until it split to 25 guys again about 50km later and me and Dion stuck in the front there. It was one of the hardest stages I’ve done with the extreme crosswinds and full gas racing and fighting in the gutter for 220km.
RC: Often we see breakaways struggle to cooperate the larger they get, but it looked like there was a fluidity in the move with so much being stood to gain for the likes of Movistar, Deceuninck-QuickStep and Sunweb. How did you feel the break worked together today?
Sam: The break had no option but to co-operate. With such strong crosswinds the best place to be is in the rotation. When it goes in the gutter there isn’t enough room for everyone and that is why we dropped 15 guys a bit later on. With everyone rolling through basically as a survival method it was going to be hard for the peloton to close the gap to us.
RC: How did the Mitchelton-SCOTT quartet play the day tactically today?
Sam: Survival, we lost Damo and Esteban with those 15 guys about 50km in. It was a really windy section and was a positional thing, Dion and I managed to be in the right place and made the front split. In the final there wasn’t much we could do, I wanted to attack before the final but it was too fast and Dion and I decided he would do the sprint. But it was a hard uphill finish and some world class riders in the split so to win was always going to be hard.
RC: You weren’t the only one to drop back with about 3km to go. En masse a number of riders seemed to fall back. Was it a case of job done for Dion from your perspective or was there a change in gradient/pace that just took a bit too much out of the legs?
Sam: The whole stage was spent on the limit, I got to the last 3km and I was pretty dead. Dion was our best option on that finish but ultimately after such a hard day I couldn’t really follow the guys. Maybe I could have if I really tried and finished 23rd instead of 25th.
RC: At this point in the Vuelta how happy are you and Mitchelton-SCOTT with the way the race has panned out?
Sam: It’s been a tough race for us, we haven’t had a win yet but not from lack of trying. We’ve been in every breakaway but we’ve had some pretty bad luck with lots of crashes, Esteban has fallen hard two times and we obviously lost Mezza in that big crash. The race has been super hard with almost every stage being a mountain stage so to win here isn’t easy but we’ll keep trying until Madrid.