The 19th stage of this year’s Vuelta a Espana takes the riders from Medina del Campo to the walled city of Ávila, and the last time that the race visited the city, the stage was won by Philip Deignan.
Not only did the rider from Donegal win the 165.0 km stage Talavera de la Reina that day, but it also moved him into the top ten overall. It had been an emphatic win for the Cervelo rider, and he had made it look easy in the end.
Deignan had been a member of the main break which had gone clear early on in the stage, and alongside him had been some big names. Amongst those also in the break were Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas), Rein Taaramae (Cofidis), Matti Breschel and Jakob Fuglsang of Saxo Bank, Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto), Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Tadej Valjavec (AG2R La Mondiale).
Caisse d’ Epargne and Euskaltel teams initially led the chase by the peloton, but they would eventually ease off. Up front, the large breakaway worked well together and established a good lead.
With 25kms remaining, the lead group reached the climb of Alto del Boqueron and Philippe Gilbert attacked. Fuglsang was amongst those to respond to the Belgian’s attempt to go clear, and a number of riders managed to bridge across to Gilbert.
Going over the summit of the climb however, the leaders were caught, thanks in no small part to Deignan’s efforts. The Irish rider then went clear with Kreuziger.
The duo worked well together on the descent towards Ávila, as Fuglsang chased on his own. He couldn’t catch the lead pair though and coming towards the final climb to the finish, it was clear that either Deignan or Kreuziger would win.
On that cobbled climb to the finish, Kreuziger spoke to Deignan and it was said that he had offered the Irishman money for the win. The offer was refused and it in fact gave Deignan a psychological boost. He knew then that Kreuziger had nothing left.
In the sprint to the line, Deignan left him for dead to finish three seconds clear of his breakaway companion. It had been a brilliant win which pushed him into 9th place overall, a position he would hold until the finish in Madrid.