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Gallery: Florian Sénéchal salvages Vuelta Stage 13 win for Deceuninck-QuickStep

Martin James
28 Aug 2021

Late Fabio Jakobsen puncture leaves team scrambling but Frenchman keeps calm to take sprint win himself

Grand Tour racing needs to have contrasts. Steep climbs at stage finishes hurt more after hours of flat riding; successful breakaways mean more because of all the times they fail; and big GC days in the mountains are all the more thrilling for the processional days that tend to precede them.

So with some brutal days of climbing on the horizon, we’re happy to give Stage 13 of the 2021 Vuelta a Espana a pass for not offering the same kind of excitement that has punctuated so much of this year’s race.

The finish, at least, was exciting enough. After a nervous run-in, Deceuninck-QuickStep’s leadout was so good it looked to be too fast for their own sprinter Fabio Jakobsen, the man it was supposed to be setting up. Turns out the green jersey actually had an untimely puncture, leaving the team's plans in disarray with the line virtually in sight.

So the leadout riders simply rode on, giving Frenchman Florian Sénéchal the nod to hit the front and claim another win for the Wolf Pack despite a surge from one of their former number in Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates).

Going through the motions

There will no doubt be fireworks over the weekend with back-to-back mountain stages for the GC favourites to sink their teeth into, but a flat 203.7km run from Belmez to Villanueva de la Serena always looked likely to be a day for going through the motions, and so it proved.

The main break of the day was a wildcard team trifecta of Diego Rubio (Burgos-BH), Álvario Cuadros (Caja Rural-Seguros) and Luis Ángel Maté (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

They took off within the first 5km, the gap quickly hitting the 2 minute mark then largely remaining there as the peloton behind managed it.

The catch looked imminent at around 60km when echelons briefly caused a rise in pace behind, and even a split in the peloton, but the disruption was quickly neutralised and the speed dropped again, giving the trio up front a reprieve they maintained for a further 30km.

Then it was a question of preparing for a tricky, roundabout-heavy run-in, which mercifully didn’t see any serious disruption – other than the number one sprinter in the race getting a puncture.

Here are Cyclist photographer Chris Auld’s images from the stage:

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