Vuelta a Espana 2017
Trentin held off compatriot Gianni Moscon (Team Sky) and Danish youngster Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) to pick up a fifth win for his Quick-Step Floors team and extend his lead in the green jersey points classification.
An uphill sprint in the Andalusian town of Tomares saw Trentin ease to victory by a couple of bike lengths over Moscon while Froome zipped to seventh place just ahead of his big rival Vincenzo Nibali to retain his 59-second lead over the Bahrain Merida rider in the general classification.
“To be honest, it wasn’t at all a finale to my taste,” admitted 28-year-old Trentin, who is set to join Orica-Scott for the 2018 season.
“On paper it looked like it was less hard, especially from 3km to 2km to go. But we decided to go for it. Everybody did his job and gave 100 percent of what he had. I had to win. When the team is like this, you must finish off the work. It’s amazing. I came in this race with confidence but I never expect something like this. And La Vuelta isn’t finished so as a team we are waiting for more.”
If Trentin capped a fine team display by Quick-Step Floors with another personal success, then the team’s only blotch on a sweltering day in southern Spain was the seven seconds conceded by their GC man David de la Cruz, who dropped from fourth to fifth after being caught out in a split at the finish.
The rolling 198.4km stage from Coin to the suburbs of Seville was played out in fierce heat while the flat approach to the finish provided the sprinters with their last realistic chance of a win before the race’s final stage to Madrid.
A break of five riders quickly formed ahead of the early Cat.3 climb of the Alto de Ardales, which the Italian Davide Villella (Cannondale-Drapac) crested in pole position to extend his lead by another three points at the top of the polka dot king of the mountains standings.
When Villella sat up over the summit, his four fellow escapees – Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Arnaud Courteille (FDJ) and Alexis Gougeard (Ag2R-La Mondiale) – rode on to a maximum lead of five minutes over the peloton.
The heat – which saw the thermometer edge above 30C – caused some problems in the pack with Thursday’s runner-up, Omar Fraile, dropped by the peloton and clearly suffering with sickness.
Twice the Vuelta’s polka dot jersey winner, the Spaniard soon became his beleaguered Dimension Data team’s sixth rider to withdraw from the race.
Meanwhile, the advantage of the leaders gradually came down thanks to the tempo set by Trentin’s Quick-Step Floors team, with a little help from LottoNL-Jumbo and Cannondale-Drapac.
A crash near the back of the pack saw Dutchmen Bert-Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Jetse Bol (Manzana Postobon) pick up some nasty cuts and grazes as the gap came down to two minutes for the four escapees, with 50km remaining.
Frenchmen Gougeard and Courteille called it a day inside the final 25km leaving just De Gendt and De Marchi out ahead. And when the Belgian suffered cramps inside the final 10km, two became one as De Marchi rode alone with the peloton breathing down his neck.
The Italian was swept up with 7km remaining as Quick-Step send Bob Jungels and Julian Alaphilippe on to the front to pave the way for Trentin’s assault on a fifth win for the team – following earlier victories for Yves Lampaert, Alaphilippe and himself (twice).
A technical finish with numerous roundabouts and a series of uphill steps and one sweeping downhill was animated when Australian veteran Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) had a dig from distance before the Kazakh Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) put in a more telling attack with 900 metres remaining.
But Lutsenko – the Stage 5 winner – appeared to drop his chain ahead of the home straight, ending his chances of a second victory.
Trentin took it up and never looked back – the powerful Italian surging clear to pick up the win at an uphill canter, extending his lead in the green jersey competition to 103 points to Froome’s 84.
Sky’s versatile debutant Moscon was the best of the rest ahead of Sunweb’s Andersen, Germany’s Michael Schwarzmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and the Belgian Tom van Asbroeck (Cannondale-Drapac).
Nibali was the first of the GC favourites to cross the line for sixth place just ahead of Froome, Wilco Keldeman (Team Sunweb) and Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo). Numerous splits in the peloton caught out many riders – most notably De le Cruz, who conceded seven seconds to drop below Dutchman Kelderman to fifth on GC.
But elsewhere there was no significant change in the battle for red as Froome – his right knee bandaged after those two crashes on Thursday – retained his 59-second cushion over Nibali ahead of decisive back-to-back summit finishes over the weekend.
La Vuelta continues on Saturday with the first of those critical mountaintop showdowns – the 175km Stage 14 from Ecija to Sierra de la Pandera, which concludes with the first ‘Especial’ ascent of the race.