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Deceuninck-Quick-Step squeezed lemonade from the lemons on stage 13 of the Vuelta a España. As the peloton rumbled toward the finish line for a bunch kick, Deceuninck’s star sprinter Fabio Jakobsen lost pace, fading inside 2km to the finish. The moment looked like a disaster for Deceuninck, but the ‘Wolfpack’ wasn’t ready to give in.
Teammate Florian Sénéchal, normally a lead-out man for Jakobsen, powered into the sprinter position, and in the final push to the line he took on Matteo Trentin for the win. In the final push Sénéchal pushed past Trentin to win his first career grand tour victory.
Here’s what the stars said after the flat and fast thirteenth stage of the Spanish grand tour.
Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step): 100th, at 1:05
Jakobsen, in the green jersey of the leader of the points competition, rolled through the intermediate sprint point uncontested some 13.5km from the finish line.
He was in a perfect position to take the stage win, sitting in fourth wheel with 2km to go, but faded just 500m later.
Not wanting to squander the opportunity for his team to take the stage win — and perhaps also wanting other riders denied points in the sprint competition — he radioed for his teammate Sénéchal to go ahead and charge for the win.
“This is cycling, you can be the main favorite but things don’t always turn out the way you wanted.
“The team did a perfect lead-out, but the legs were full of lactic acid and I could see that before the last two kilometers, so I just told Florian that he should sprint and I’m happy that he finished it off for. I’m sure other opportunities will come and we will go for them,” Jakobsen said.
Matteo Trentin (UAE-Team Emirates): 2nd, at :00
Trentin finished just off of the podium, in fourth, on the previous stage and was looking to improve his standings.
He had a perfect leadout in the final two kilometers, set up well by his team. But the ‘Wolfpack’ had done a better job to set up Jakobsen, who ultimately swung off his leadout before the line. Sénéchal capitalized on the positioning and held Trentin in the dash for the win.
“The ending, as expected, was not easy. It was essential to remain in the leading positions when approaching the roundabout located 3.5 km from the finish, but I was unable to hit the corner the way I wanted and had to use a lot of energy to make up ground.
“From that moment on, I struggled at every corner, finding myself having to recover ground each time and then paying for my efforts in the sprint.
“It’s a shame, but I finally got close and I’ll try again at the next opportunity,” said Trentin.
Luka Mezgec (Team BikeExchange): 4th, at :03
A day after the Australian squad put Michael “Bling” Matthews in position to ride onto the stage podium, in third, they again set themselves up for success.
In the chaotic final 10km, which took riders through roundabouts and road furniture, the Aussie squad again came to the front of the race to try to launch into a podium position.
“The team did really good until the crucial point of the day where we actually got blocked with about four kilometers to go, and the corner at three kilometers to go was the point where you could not really move up after that.
“We lost ourselves there, somehow I found Rob Stannard with about two kilometers to go, and I thought that Matthews was on my wheel. But it was hard, I was like kamikaze through the corners, I was just trying to get up there. I knew there was no time to move up other than going full gas into the corners.
“The biggest mistake was not being at the front with three kilometers to go and I think that actually cost us the sprint and the result in the end,” said Mezgec.
Itamar Einhorn (Israel Start-Up Nation): 7th, at :03
Einhorn has been at the front of flat stages, assisted by teammates and also freelancing his way to the front of the race.
The finale of stage 13 of the 2021 Vuelta came after 10km of navigating through an urban area with traffic calming road features.
Einhorn stayed sharp and alert, and earned another valuable top-10 finish.
“I’m happy I got another top-10 for me and for the team. It was really hot out there today and my teammates really supported me perfectly. We were very well-positioned coming in from the big road but then everybody took that right-hand turn really fast, and me and Sep [Vanmarcke] lost a bit of positioning.
“Sep tried to bring me back to the front but at that moment, it was just one long line of about 30 riders. All I could do was try to improve my position. I saw there was a gap at the front and I hoped that other teams would close it. In the end, I gave it all I had and I finished seventh. It’s a good result but this was really a crazy sprint,” Einhorn added.