Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) took his second win of the 2020 Vuelta a España.
Launching an attack with only 200m remaining, the Belgian out-rode Michael Woods (EF Pro Cycling) by half a bike length.
“I knew I had to take the last corner in the first position. I felt Woods coming but suddenly the finish line was there and I crossed first.”
Wells has been active in several breakaways, scoring a win on stage 5.
“It was not easy to win, although we really fight to get in the breakaway and my companions in the breakaway were really strong riders. So, the whole day we go a super good tempo, and then in the descent, we went away with three. I thought we were going to stay away but the other three came back.”
GC contenders Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) shadowed race leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) across the line, trying to distance Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) in the final meters of the stage.
“For us, it was a good escape, strong men but without danger for the classification,” commented Roglic. “If the opportunity was there to take more seconds I would definitely have
taken it but the breakaway was there and it would have been a big sprint to the top.”
How stage 14 unfolded
A strong break of seven — including three previous stage winners — escaped early on, after about an hour of racing. Zdeněk Štybar (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Pierre-luc Périchon (Cofidis), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), Thymen Arensman (Team Sunweb), Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers), Michael Woods (EF Pro Cycling), and Marc Soler (Movistar Team) got a maximum advantage of 5:15.
A crash in the peloton at 91km to go took down Niki Terpstra (Total Direct Énergie) and Max Kanter (Team Subweb) at the feed zone. Terpstra got a bike change and was riding again quickly, while Kanter looked slightly frantic to get his chain sorted out. He, too, was able to reconnect with the main group.
The next 50km was relatively quiet, with Total Direct Énergie setting the pace at the front.
Roglič had a bike change at 44km to go, while the break’s advantage had slimmed down to 3:45. The race-leader made his way right back to the main group, where the Jumbo-Visma team was waiting to bring him back to front.
The peloton continued to shave time to the break, and a gap of just 2:00 remained with 30km to go.
Woods attacked at 25.5km to go, 2.5km from the top of a small climb. Soler, Arensman, chased along with van Baarle, and they got clear of the other three. Arensman quickly fell off the pace of this group, leaving the three stage-winners to try to tick off the distance.
The fractured break group came back together at 23km to go, after the top of the climb, with the three pursuers working more effectively than the three in front.
Štybar and Soler tried to get away on the descent, with 14km to go, leaving Woods to scramble back to the lead two, with the limited help of van Baarle, who seemed content to let the others do all the work.
Wellens bridged up to this attack at 11km to go while Van Baarle, Woods, and Arensman gave chase to not let the escapees out of sight, with a 12-second gap between the groups.
With Wellens, Soler, and Štybar playing cat and mouse, Van Baarle, Woods, and Arensman were able to reconnect with them before the final 3km.
Woods positioned himself near the front of this group going into the final kilometer climb to the finish.
Wellens opened an attack at 600m to go, but this was quickly neutralized by Soler and Štybar.
After a quick regrouping, Wellens went again at 200m to go, as the road continued to pitch upwards.
Rounding a left corner, Wellens was on the inside of the turn, with Woods about half a bike length behind him, and the two finished with the same margin just several meters later.
Wellens commented after the stage that “The whole day I had the impression that Dylan van Baarle was the best. He’s a really good rouleur. But then when we speed up a little bit I saw that Woods and Soler had good legs. I was a little afraid of Woods in the sprint, but I did very [well] to start [the final attack] first. I knew it was a corner, and I had to stay in the inside.”