VELEFIQUE, Spain (VN) — Ineos Grenadiers threw everything at Primož Roglič on the “Alpe d’Huez” of Spain, but he didn’t crack.
In fact, Ineos Grenadiers seemed to inflect their own damage, and Roglič and Jumbo-Visma ended up tightening their grip on the Vuelta a España’s red jersey.
“They had to try something for sure,” Sepp Kuss said of Ineos Grenadiers. “From my side, we were really strong, we had a lot of guys left in the group and we just did our own race.”
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Ineos Grenadiers came to the Vuelta with several leaders, but so far, it appears the British super-team is getting its wires crossed.
Adam Yates continually attacked on the Vuelta’s first especial summit, only to get gapped by Roglič and others. Egan Bernal ceded more than one minute, and Richard Carapaz sunk out of contention by losing eight minutes to Roglič.
Kuss and Co. could just sit back and watch with delight as its top rival unwound itself.
“As for Ineos, it’s sometimes hard to communicate if you have multiple leaders,” Kuss told reporters at the summit. “If one’s feeling really good and the other’s not so much, that can sometimes clash a little bit.
“It was a hard day a lot of attacking the whole day so it was super fast.”
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Kuss, who remained in eighth overall, matched early accelerations from Yates and Miguel Ángel López up the twisting and brutally steep climb in southern Spain’s barren mountains.
Brisk winds buffeted the looping switchbacks when Roglič sprang to life, and followed Enric Mas (Movistar) to drop all the top GC rivals.
Kuss covered the moves from behind, and came in just behind Bernal.
“I was up there on GC so if I could follow them and sit on — it’s good to be able to cover the moves so Primož can sit back a little bit,” Kuss said.
“[Bernal] is a super strong rider. Ineos rode really hard on the climb and then after that, they stopped, so we didn’t need to control for the stage,” Kuss said. “We just rode our own pace so we weren’t worried about the breakaway.”
"We decided to give it our all. The idea was to put in a hard tempo during the stage and then to try it on the last climb"
— INEOS Grenadiers (@INEOSGrenadiers) August 22, 2021
All is not lost for Ineos Grenadiers: Bernal is fifth, just 31 seconds off the podium. Yates climbed into sixth, at 2:07 back. Yet it certainly wasn’t the outcome the team was hoping for Sunday.
Ineos Grenadiers’ growing frustration is a delight for Jumbo-Visma, which rides into the Vuelta’s first rest day with Roglič in control at 28 seconds ahead of Mas.
Not a bad outcome on a mountain where Ineos Grenadiers wanted to try to turn the tables.