Romain Bardet timed his effort to perfection to take an impressive Stage 14 victory at the Vuelta a Espana.
The Team DSM rider went clear in the final kilometres of the stage, bringing back a spirited Nicolas Prodhomme (AG2R Citroen) on the slopes of the final climb.
Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) finished second 44 seconds behind Bardet with Jay Vine (Alpecin-Fenix) recovering from a nasty crash with a car to end in third.
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Odd Christian Eiking battled admirably to hang on to the red jersey, despite an enterprising attack from Guillaume Martin's Cofidis team late-on. In the end Eiking did lose a handful of seconds to second-placed Martin, but not enough to seriously dent his lead. Martin will have another bite of the apple tomorrow when the race continues into the mountains of Castile y Leon.
Jay Vine's crash – which seemed to be cause by a mistake made when taking a bottle from his car – sparked concern, while his subsequent recovery and return to the front of the race saw many on social media calling for him to be awarded the day's most aggressive rider prize. It was somewhat controversial, then, when the award was given to Dani Navarro (Burgos BH). The Australian finished the stage bloodied and with holes in his jersey and his dossards flapping in the wind.

Vuelta a España : Stage 14 highlights as Bardet sweeps to victory

Nicolas Prodhomme introduced himself to the wider cycling world with an accidental attack with around 45km remaining. The Frenchman went clear with Navarro and Sep Vanmarcke (Israel StartUp Nation) only for the Spaniard to crash into the Belgian and leave Prodhomme away solo. With a teammate in the pursuing group behind, Prodhomme was free to press his advantage and did a very creditable job of keeping clear of the other former members of the breakaway. Andrey Zeits (Team BikeExchange) looked to be the only rider capable of pulling back Prodhomme, until Bardet finally chose his moment to attack.
From there, the gap in quality between Bardet – who came to Spain with general classification ambitions – and the others on the mountain became clear. He was able to catch Prodhomme and Zeits with apparent ease, before striding on alone for a beautiful solo victory atop the Pico Villuercas (which was making its Vuelta debut today).

Peaceful day on general classification

With another testing day to come before the final rest day of the 2021 Vuelta, today felt like something of a truce had been called among the key GC riders. On the final ascent, only Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar) invested in a serious attack and he was rewarded with a few seconds gained back against Primoz Roglic. Lopez sits fifth currently, with teammate Enric Mas in fourth and Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma) third. If, as is expected, Odd Christian Eiking and Guillaume Martin eventually cede their places at the very top of GC, Roglic will go into red and Lopez and Mas will occupy the two other podium spots.
Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) tried an attack slightly further down the mountain, presumably with the hope of improving his own GC placing, but was ultimately unable to do so. He – like the move by Cofidis – was brought back when Jumbo-Visma's Sam Oomen and Steven Kruijswijk began pace-setting in the red jersey group. Egan Bernal (Ineos) and Jack Haig (Bahrain) crossed the line with Mas and Roglic, preserving their GC places relative to Roglic.
Richard Carapaz was listed as the only withdrawal from the race on stage 14.
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