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'Hands up if you think Vingegaard's going to win' – Dane again dominant at O Gran Camiño

“Hands up if you think Jonas Vingegaard is going to win the stage!” O Gran Camiño’s race commentator repeatedly asked the finish line crowds at Castelo de Ribadavia braving the cold and occasional heavy spots of rain as the Dane launched his second solo attack in as many days.

Given the crowd were likely rooting for popular local pro Carlos Canal (Movistar), who finally placed second, only a few ‘voted’ for Vingegaard the first time round. But with five kilometres left to go, and Vingegaard’s advantage staying steadily around the half-minute mark, even the most partisan of local fans bowed to the inevitable and a small forest of hands raised skywards recognised that the Dane had left the opposition for dust for a second time in 24 hours.

Unlike stage 2’s deceptively difficult final climb of the Alto de San Pedro de Licora, the much less challenging terrain on Saturday was far from favourable for such a long-distance attack, which came when Vingegaard surged away on a gently rising category 3 climb some 21 kilometres from the line.

But after a blisteringly fast solo descent, and having caught and dropped the last man standing from the break, Pablo Castrillo (Kern-Pharma), Vingegaard duly crossed the line with a 29 second-advantage over Canal and slightly more on the rest of his GC rivals.

Monte Aloia, theoretically the summit finish that is due to deliver the definitive verdict on O Gran Camiño, still awaits on Sunday. But right now, the case for a second straight Vingegaard GC victory in his first race of the season looks overwhelmingly strong.

“I’m once again happy to take the stage, it was another hard, cold day at the beginning but it warmed up a bit by the end. The boys did a good job keeping the breakaway under control and I took the chance to go and could stay away to the finish,” Vingegaard told reporters with his characteristic succinctness.

Asked with somewhat wry humour by one reporter if he had made a time trial-like effort with his long lone break because Thursday’s opening TT in A Coruña had been partially neutralised, Vingegaard responded: “I would like to say yes, but not really. It was a bit of a time trial experience, having to make yourself as aero as possible and then go as quickly as possible. But it was more like that, I was not thinking about the time trial.”

In any case, Vingegaard’s move did spark some resistance, with EF Education-EasyPost pushing hard in the shredded peloton to try to limit the gaps. But Kern Pharma pro Pablo Castrillo, part of the early break and who tenaciously tried to hold onto Vingegaard’s back wheel for the best part of a couple of kilometres, recognised that there was never really going to be a chance to get on terms with the Dane, let alone beat him.

“It would have been complicated to do that,” Castrillo said a shade tartly when asked how he rated his chances of winning when he had been caught by Vingegaard. “What did I feel when he caught me?  That my legs hurt.”

As for whether Vingegaard had always intended to go for it on the final climb for a second day running, “It was not really the plan from the beginning let’s say,” teammate Cian Uijtdebroeks, currently running fourth overall, told Cycling News.

“But race situations change all the time, and it was a situation where it was really hard, some teams were pulling really hard and we needed to play it.

“It was a risky decision because it was a long way out, but on the other side, he’s so strong what does he have to lose?”

Indeed, Vingegaard had already been in one early break of 10 on the stage, moving ahead with several race favourites including Egan Bernal in a frantic first hour of racing. It was only when Movistar, the only WorldTour team not in the move, had shut down the break, that Vingegaard opted to bide his time and wait for the final climb of the day.

“The earlier attack was sparked by Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost) after the mountain sprint and then we worked well together so I was thinking, let’s give it a try, why not?” Vingegaard said. “We got caught but that’s how it is.”

Vingegaard could now take a third successive stage, as he did a year ago, though he would not reveal his approach for Sunday’s double ascent of Monte Aloia in advance. Given his voracious appetite for victories this February in Galicia, if another searing solo attack is on the cards, it would be anything but surprising.

“Tomorrow is a very hard stage, an uphill finish again, and I think most of the teams will be looking at us, so we’ll have to make a good plan,” Vingegaard said, before agreeing that Saturday had been a great day for Visma-Lease A bike, with two victories at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and his own success in Spain.

“One more day to go and we’ll do everything we can to take the race. It’d be nice to take the third stage win, but we don’t take it for granted,” he concluded.

After the evidence of stages 2 and 3, though, others in the peloton must feel another Vingegaard win on Monte Aloia is all but a given.

SOURCE: CyclingNews   (go to source)
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