It was Edward Ravasi’s turn to show his attacking prowess on Friday’s stage at Vuelta a Espana, with the Italian securing a ninth place finish following another exciting day at the saddle.
The youngster – who has agreed a new deal that keeps him in UAE Team Emirates colours for another two years – played his cards early and went with a large breakaway of 32 riders and stuck with the group for the majority of the race.
With just 2.5km to go and the agonising summit finish, big attacks came from the breakaway group, with Ravasi holding his nerve to secure the Emirati team’s second consecutive top 10 finish.
It was a tough day for all riders, with steep hills and two categorised climbs to deal with, on what was a mostly uphill course from the off. The summit finish saw a handful of riders attempt to pull away, but it was the Oscar Rodriguez (Euskadi – Murias) who crossed the line first to take home an extraordinary stage win.
Commenting on the race, Ravasi said: “I would like to thank the team for the opportunity. I would have liked to have achieved a top five result, but top 10 is a good result considering the climbers in the group.
“It was not easy in the break and it was very difficult to manage the approach to the climb because some teams were represented by more than one rider. It was necessary to close the gap, this cost a lot of energy.”
UAE Team Emirates’ Fabio Aru continues his pursuit of a top 10 General Classification (GC) finish and now sits 17th in the overall standings.
It will be another day amidst the mountains tomorrow with riders facing a 171km route from Cistierna to Les Praeres de Nava.
With a short but steep hill coming at 3km, the breakaway could choose to make their move early, ahead of the category two climb that features at 50km.
Once the peloton reach the summit, it’s a long downhill stretch for over 20km before tackling two category one and a category three climb.
The final 4km will be played out on a steep, 12.5-per-cent incline and the winner will have to have conserved some energy to tackle the summit which has never appeared at the Vuelta.
STAGE 13 RESULTS
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS
AG2R La Mondiale rider Geniez held firm as an early 18-rider breakaway was whittled down to sprint home ahead of Team Sky’s Dylan van Baarle and Mark Padun of Bahrain-Merida.
Spain’s Jesus Herrada did enough to grab the lead in the overall classification with an advantage of three minutes and 22 seconds over the now second-placed Yates.
Herrada had been part of the initial breakaway but fell away to finish just over two minutes behind the leading pack, with the peloton which included Yates almost 12 minutes back.
Geniez’s win was marred when he swerved to avoid photographers and crashed into a race official shortly after crossing the finish line, bringing down a number of other riders including Van Baarle.
The 181km stage saw a series of attacks from the start until a prominent bunch including the likes of Geniez, Van Baarle and Vincenzo Nibali managed to establish an advantage of over 10 minutes.
A further attack split the leading group but Geniez and Dylan Teuns (BMC) were among those to haul them in, while Herrada hung in in his bid to claim the red jersey.
Despite sporadically losing touch with the leaders, Geniez and Van Baarle worked themselves back into contention and set up the final sprint in which the Frenchman stole a march on his rivals.
Herrada will take his advantage into the forthcoming stages in the Asturias and Leon mountains, while Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) remains one second behind Yates in third place.
UAE Team Emirates’ Diego Ulissi returns to the stage of his last one-day race win as the Italian gears up for the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec and the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal later this week.
The 29-year-old took home first place in the GP Montreal last year, his second one-day victory in UAE colours, and will be hoping for a repeat performance this time round.
Joining Ulissi will be former European Champion Alexander Kristoff, alongside teammates Rui Costa, Alexandr Riabushenko, Manuele Mori, Marco Marcato and Jan Polanc.
Commenting ahead of the race, the Lugano resident said: “The GP Québec and the GP Montréal are two races that I particularly like. They are classics that are similar to the world championships.
“Among the two, I like Montréal because it’s a little harder than Québec and it’s more open to attackers. I had a fever a few days ago so I am not heading into the races in the best shape , but let’s see how my body will respond under force. I hope I can defend the title I won last year in Montréal.”