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GRADO, Spain (VN) — For every winner at the Vuelta a España, there are plenty of regrets and frustrations across the peloton.
Such was the case in Friday’s down-to-the-wire breakaway win by Jesús Herrada. Behind in the chasing bunch, which could not close down the gap despite trimming it to about one minute with 12km to go, Sam Bennett and Mads Pedersen could only shake their heads after the pack couldn’t reel in the attackers.
Yet the disappointment was even sharper inside the winning group of five. The quintet worked in unison to stay away, but everyone knew there would only be one heading to the podium.
The pain was especially acute for Fred Wright, the British rider on Bahrain Victorious who was third in Bilbao and came within two seconds of the leader’s jersey on Wednesday.
“I’m not going to lie, I’m really gutted,” Wright said Friday. “But I have to stay positive, because it’s coming, it’s definitely coming.”
- Jesús Herrada wins out of breakaway
- Vuelta a España: Mads Pedersen’s plans don’t pay off as breakaway takes the win
- Sam Bennett misses green jersey ceremony as Vuelta a España staff pack away podium around him
Back in the fray on Friday, he opened up the sprint only to be nipped by Herrada and Samuele Battistella at the line. Wright was in the lead position, not ideal unless a rider is absolutely sure of their legs.
The 23-year-old Wright admitted it was another bitter lesson learned.
“It’s just a shame because it would have been nice to win the stage for the team,” Wright said. “It’s hard when you want it so bad. I think that’s why I went a bit earlier because I see the finish line and I think, ‘I’ve got the best sprint here, I’m just going to go for it.’
“And I think it’s easy to forget that it’s hard not to let the emotions get the better of you,” Wright said. “You have to keep a cool head. But I think as soon as it clicks and I learn how it’s done it’s going to get a lot easier.”
Harry Sweeny: ‘Sometimes that’s how it is’
The disappointment wasn’t quite as stinging for Harry Sweeny, who admitted he didn’t have the legs to win after going so deep to fend off the chasing bunch.
“I didn’t feel like I had the best legs today,” the Lotto-Soudal rider said at the line. “Honestly I felt I would try to ride into it. It is frustrating because I know in the position I was in if I had really good legs, I probably could have been in there for the sprint.
“I was in really good position to come around, but sometimes that’s how it is,” Sweeney said. “Some of the guys went a little bit early. I think the wind made people on edge. Herrada just had the most left in the tank, and he could around right at the end.”