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Gallery: Damiano in Caruso control on Stage 9 at the Vuelta

Will Strickson
23 Aug 2021

Bittersweet day for Bahrain Victorious sees Caruso take a 70km solo victory and Jack Haig up to fourth on GC while Mikel Landa suffers

Corny joke about a 33-year-old Italian cyclist ageing like a fine wine. Stage 9 of the Vuelta a España was quite a day for Bahrain Victorious.

On the toughest stage of the Vuelta so far it took a while for a breakaway to be established, with the peloton initially raging forward towards the rest day.

Eventually, with half of the stage already done, a group of talented climbers got away, however just under 30km later, as Ineos Grenadiers decided to start pacing it back, Damiano Caruso decided he wanted some alone time.

Attacking solo with 71km and a load of climbing still to go, the Giro d'Italia runner-up sensed the chase, took his chance and never looked like being pegged back, taking only his second Grand Tour stage win.

Fans of his team – and Bahraini people – didn't know where to look though, as back down the stunning Alto de Velefique team leader Mikel Landa was going backwards, supported by Dauphiné hero Mark Padun and Tour de France KOM nearly-man Wout Poels, while Jack Haig, himself backed by Giro stage winner Gino Mäder, found himself up to fourth overall and just 21 seconds off the podium.

Landa wasn't the only contender shown up on the mountain though, a series of attacks by Adam Yates and then Enric Mas left a few riders in damage control mode, including Yates himself, who was left to wait – but not too much – for Ineos team leader Egan Bernal.

Mas came home with Primož Roglič – who looked like he was playing the game in easy mode, increasing his hold on the red jersey – while teammate Miguel Ángel López tried to chase them back and finished with Yates and Haig around 40 seconds down.

That was just part of a great day for Movistar, as they hold second and third overall and lead – of course they do – the team classification, while former friends Landa and Richard Carapaz fell back. Watch out for El Jaguar in the coming stages though, not all is at it seems.

Check out the great Chris Auld's images from the day, including a few that wouldn't look out of place on a Cyclist Big Ride feature: