Team LottoNL-Jumbo rider Robert Gesink won the 14th stage – the queen stage to the Col d'Aubisque – in the Vuelta a España today. The Dutchman held off Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) and Egor Silin (Katusha) in the final metres. George Bennett also made the front group and finished fourth.
“I'm very happy, I was so close on Covadonga, but Quintana beat me,” Gesink said after the 195.6-kilometre stage. “I definitely wanted to take another chance, and that was today. It’s really beautiful that I could finish it off.”
Gesink again grabbed his chance to go in the early break with his team-mates Victor Campenaerts and George Bennett. "We went with a large group of strong riders. I was not sure I could beat all these riders."
On the final climb, the group fell apart and there were small groups. Bennett rode out front, but Gesink fought for victory in the end. "I kept fighting and I gave everything. My legs were so cramped that I could not sit anymore, but I had enough. I'm happy,” added Gesink. “This is my first stage win in a grand tour after years of racing. It’s perfect timing too because I wasn’t really having a good season. Now I feel that I'm truly recovered from my crash in Switzerland."
Victor Campenaerts threw his weight in to the group for his leaders. "Campenaerts made sure that the pace was high and the lead grew, he also made sure that Bennett and Gesink had plenty of food and drinks,” Sports Director Addy Engels said.
"It was an exciting finale. We had the race radio, but it spoke mainly of the classification stars, and when you finally hear Gesink won – that's a relief. Yates rode a fast climb and we getting closer, so we had Gesink’s gap and we helped him along.
"He limited down his escape rivals, but a couple remained to test him. We knew that Gesink, given what he showed Monday, could do it. We kept telling him too go early.
"It was also a bit of luck as Bennett was in the group initially ahead of Gesink by 30 seconds. Both men could save energy. In Gesink’s group, the two riders from team Cannondale had to close the gap.
“George Bennett did well finishing fourth. He also moved up the rankings." He now sits 12th, 6’37” behind leader Nairo Quintana.
"Tomorrow will be tough again with an uphill finish, but this time, it is a short stage. I assume that we won’t see the same men up the road again tomorrow given the energy they used today. This victory motivates us."