INTERMARCHÉ
WANTY GOBERT

Vuelta a Espana

Eiking, new leader of the Vuelta : « A miracle »


After a very colorful first week in the Tour of Spain (2.WT, 14/08-5/09) for Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert, during which Rein Taaramäe conquered the red leader’s jersey thanks to his stage win on the Picon Blanco, Odd Christian Eikingoffered the team a new opportunity to dream in red. In the tenth stage, suited for breakaways and with the Puerto de Almáchar as only difficulty of the day, the riders battled for a long time to form the breakaway. Not less than 80 kilometer after the start in coastal city Roquetas de Mar were necessary for a group of 31 riders to receive green light from the peloton. Between them, the Norwegian Odd Christian Eiking was the best placed rider in the provisional general classification in 19th place and 9 minutes behind Primoz Roglic.

The leaders smoothly increased their advantage, until the time gap crossed the important limit of 10 minutes with 30 kilometer to go. The advantage culminated at 13 minutes at the bottom of the Puerto de Almáchar, the decisive climb of the day with the top situated 17 kilometer before the finish line. It was clear that Eiking would not only race for the stage win, but also for the lead in the general classification. Guillaume Martin was the main threat, as the Frenchman was only 29 seconds down on Eiking in the provisional classification. The Australian rider Storer managed to escape on the steepest parts and took his second stage win in this Vuelta in Rincón de la Victoria. Behind, Eiking reacted well on the attacks of Martin and finished 5th.

Race leader Roglic attacked from the peloton on the first slopes of the Puerto de Almáchar and crossed the line 12 minutes behind the winner. In this way, Eiking became the new leader of the Tour of Spain. The Norwegian had an advantage of 58 seconds on his closest rival Martin, before the eleventh stage suited for punchers. This Wednesday, the stage of 133 kilometer finishes on the well known explosive climb towards Valdepeñas de Jaén.

The feeling to be race leader in the Tour of Spain is indescribable, it is something really big! After Rein's fantastic success, this red jersey is a big bonus for the team. I am very happy. This morning I would never have imagined to conclude the stage in red, as I was 9 minutes down in GC. A miracle was necessary for me to become the race leader. But once I was in the breakaway and I realized that the advantage didn't cease increasing, I started to believe in this miracle. I was aware that Guillaume Martin was a strong contender, because he was close to me in the classification and because he finished 8th in the latest Tour de France. I know the qualities of my former teammate. In the end, I managed to react on his attacks and even to gain time on him. This is important for the next days, because I want to defend the jersey as long as possible!

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