Romain Bardet won the 14th stage of the Vuelta a Espana and also grabbed the lead in the climbing classification on Saturday.
You can rewatch STAGE 14 of 2021 Vuelta a Espana HERE
The Frenchman was part of a group of 18 riders that escaped early on the 165.7km stage and built a huge lead by the start of the final climb.
He shook off the remnants of the breakaway for his first Vuelta stage win and only his second career win outside France, following the Vuelta a Burgos earlier this month. It was also his first grand tour stage win in four years.
“It’s been a long wait, it’s true. I’ve been second several times since then,” said Bardet at the finish.
Odd Christian Eiking responded to attacks from his main rivals on the final climb to come in 10min 49sec behind Bardet, and retain the overall lead, although he conceded a few seconds to reigning champion Primoz Roglic.
Bardet, who twice finished on the podium in the Tour de France early in his career, was caught in the huge crash in stage five which knocked him out of contention for the overall victory.
He was part of the group that went 8km into the stage and grabbed the lead in the King of the Mountains classification when he was first over the first two peaks of the day.
“After that, I knew that even if I didn’t win, I had the polka dot jersey, so I bet on the stage win, and it worked out well,” said Bardet.
The breakaway led by 14 minutes at the foot of the last climb, but was broken up by crashes, punctures and attacks. Bardet remained cool as compatriot Nicolas Prodhomme and then two pursuers escaped.
“I had a feeling no one really wanted to commit in this breakaway,” Bardet said. “So I had really a hard time to catch the men in front. We really played it smart with my team director who told me exactly when I had to attack on the steepest (part of the climb). I just committed.”
On Sunday, the peloton will have another tough day in the mountains, with four big climbs.