TOLEDO, Spain (Reuters) - Remi Cavagna took a brilliant solo victory on stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana as Team Jumbo-Visma’s Primoz Roglic maintained his grip on the leader’s red jersey despite crashing.
The 165km ride from Avila to Toledo was pockmarked by rain and intense crosswinds, leading to a heavy crash involving multiple riders, including Roglic and fourth-placed Miguel Angel Lopez of Astana on a descent just past the 100km mark.
Roglic and Lopez both came off their bikes, while Roglic’s team mate Tony Martin was forced to abandon due to injuries suffered in the collision.
Team Movistar, containing second-placed Alejandro Valverde and third overall Nairo Quintana, attacked moments later, much to the annoyance of the peloton. Team Ineos’s Owain Doull told Eurosport: “It depends if they were riding out ahead beforehand - if they weren’t then that was shocking.
“It’s not like they did it for a few kilometres and then sat up, it was pretty divided for a while. If I were Roglic and Jumbo I wouldn’t be happy. I’m not happy and it had nothing to do with me.”
Movistar’s sporting director Jose Luis Arrieta told Spanish television that the team had always planned to attack after that descent and accused the UCI of dictating that Roglic and Lopez be allowed to join the main group by moving in the slipstream of team cars, something which is not usually permitted.
Cycling etiquette dictates that if the race leader suffers an accident or mechanical they should be allowed to rejoin the peloton with no attacks permitted, which is where the main bone of contention stems from. Valverde eventually ordered his team to slow down, allowing Roglic to catch up.
In just his second grand tour, Cavagna claimed a first-ever stage win after riding away from the breakaway with 24km to go. He finished five seconds ahead of the chasing peloton, who caught the rest of the break with just over one kilometre of the cobbled uphill finish remaining.
Roglic leads Valverde by two minutes and 47 seconds with tomorrow’s 190km mountain stage - containing five climbs - from Arenas de San Pedro to Plataforma de Gredos realistically the world champion’s final chance to claw back time on the Slovenian.
Reporting by Joseph Cassinelli; Editing by Christian Radnedge