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Gallery: Mano a mano in the mountains as Roglič wins Vuelta Stage 17

Robyn Davidson
2 Sep 2021

Chaos on the Covadonga as Bernal's heroic efforts fall short and Roglic returns to red

This was the day we were all waiting for. It feels like the GC action has taken longer to take centre stage at this year’s edition of the Vuelta a España than we were expected, but when it finally graced our screens on Stage 17 from Unquera, it didn’t disappoint.

It all began with Pavel Sivakov. The Ineos Grenadiers rider was poised at the head of the peloton, driving a fierce pace up the category one La Collada Llomena. Egan Bernal sat perfectly positioned on his wheel but Jumbo-Visma’s Sepp Kuss lurked behind, marking his every move for team leader Primož Roglič.

The pace was too much for red jersey Odd Christian Eiking, meaning the race lead was there for the taking. Up ahead, Mikel Landa of Bahrain Victorious dug deep to produce his own ride of the Grand Tour, jumping from group to group with ease. Sadly, he then abandoned later in the day.

Then Bernal took off. An elite Grand Tour contender not content with his seventh position overall and white jersey, he launched his decisive attack on the second ascent up La Collada Llomena. There was one rider he couldn’t shake off, however: Roglič joined him, the pair splitting from the field to ride mano a mano despite the lengthy 60km remaining.

Rain-spattered camera shots on descents are never a welcome sight. It proved so for the riders as well. Bernal went wide on a corner as a crash behind involved four riders. One was Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert's Eiking, but the worst affected appeared to be Astana’s Aleksandr Vlasov after he hit the curb.

Finally came Roglič’s time to shine. Bernal slipped from his wheel as his rival time-trialled away like a man on an easy Sunday ride with 7.5km left on the HC climb into Lagos de Covadonga. Bernal couldn’t re-bridge the gap, left looking at the behind of the Olympic gold time-trial medallist as he climbed to victory.

The time gap swelled as Bernal dropped further, the next group on the road breathing down his neck to add insult to non-injury. They absorbed Bernal into their ranks at the 2km mark. At the finish, Roglič took all the time advantage he could find and celebrated after the line before turning back around and heading down the mountain.

Such was the gap that he passed the second group still on their way to the line, and so was able to see Sepp Kuss attacking and finishing second on the day, Jumbo-Visma’s 1-2 punch knocking out the other GC contenders.

Roglič wears the red jersey once more, now 2:22sec ahead of Movistar’s Enric Mas with another monstrous mountain day to follow today.

For Chris Auld's view of the day, see below:

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