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Vuelta a Espana 2018: Oscar Rodriguez conquers 'Wall of Camperona' to win Stage 13

Peter Stuart
7 Sep 2018

Young Spaniard Rodriguez takes surprise win on steep hilltop finish from a strong breakaway group, while Herrera stays in the red jersey

Oscar Rodriguez (Euskadi-Murias) won Stage 13 of the 2018 Vuelta a Espana with a late attack on the final climb of the day to La Camperona, distancing Rafal Majka (Team Bora-Hansgrove) on the steepest 22% slopes of the climb at the end of a large stage-long breakaway.

It was a dramatic final few kilometres of the 176km stage from Canadás on the so-called 'Wall of Camperona'. Majka and Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing) were duking it out when Rodriguez was able to bridge across then distance the pair as the gradient hit its steepest.

Majka kicked again in with just over a kilometre to go and looked like he might reel Rodriguez in, but the young Spaniard was able to sustain his effort all the way to the line and in the end won by a relatively comfortable 19 seconds, with Teuns taking third, a further 11 seconds down.

The trio had been part of a 32-strong breakaway that went clear early and remained largely intact until the brutal slopes of La Camperona blew the group apart.  

Behind the survivors from that lead group, the main field came in with some small changes amongst the GC standings. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) managed to distance Simon Yates by 7 seconds in a head-to-head battle.

Both riders gained time on Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), who remains in the red jersey but came in 4'18" behind Rodriguez, and 90 seconds behind Yates and Quintana. As a result, Herrada's lead over Simon Yates came down to 1'42". Quintana is now in third place overall, only 8 seconds further behind.

How the stage unfolded

Riding through the Asturias region, today was always going to be both scenically stunning, and brutally hilly.

The final climb to La Camperona, 8.8km long at 6.5%, was always going to be the deciding factor for the stage victory and overall GC positioning, especially with its brutal 22% finish. The question was whether a breakaway could hold out long enough to take the stage ahead of the major contenders.

En route to La Camperona was the major climb of Puerto de Tarna, a very long 16.8km stage at a 4.9% average, but with a steep second half.

The pressure would be for a breakaway on to establish a large lead on the flatter stretches that preceded it, which is precisely what happened.

Break of the day

By the time 65km had gone by, a large group of 32 riders had established itself, including big names such as Bauke Mollema, Rafal Majka and Sergio Henao, and pulled out a 7-minute lead.

The group stayed together, shedding only one rider, over the Puerto de Tarna, with Thomas De Gendt taking the summit points in a sprint against Ben King.

With 50km remaining, the break was still nearly 6 minutes ahead and the pressure was on for Jesus Herrada’s Cofidis team to work at the front to bring the group peloton within an acceptable margin.

The gap remained substantial, though, with the break only shedding two or three riders. However, it was whittled down to only 3.50 by the start of the final Camperona climb.

With such strong pedigree of climbing in the group, it looked certain that a rider from the break would win the stage.

Rafal Majka approached the final climb in strong form, at the front of the break group, and victory seemed assured. When Rodriguez of Majka and Teuns, it seemed like a transitory attack, but the Spaniard held strong.

Behind them, the GC came in around 3 minutes behind, with some mild re-ordering of the time gaps but no changes in the overall order.

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