The first climbing day in Vuelta a Burgos ended with a customary Primož Roglič victory, after UAE paced Picon Blanco hard to set a good time on the tough climb. Vuelta a Burgos is a preparation race for the upcoming Vuelta a Espana for many riders, including Roglič and Jay Vine.
Picon Blanco has been used multiple times in recent years, both in Vuelta a Burgos and La Vuelta as a mountain top finish. This year irregular climb crested 36 kilometres from the finish, making the racing more interesting with tactics playing some role. Primož Roglič came into the stage with a handsome 34-second lead over Adam Yates and UAE-Emirates after Jumbo-Visma won yesterday’s team time-trial. This meant Roglič could defend and UAE would need to be more aggressive early in this stage if they wanted to upset Roglič’ position on GC.
Picon Blanco is a steep enough climb to make gaps but it is almost impossible to drop a fresh Primož Roglič in Spanish heat, especially in a straight headwind. Adam Yates attacked early after his teammates George Bennett and Jay Vine had pulled hard, but his first attempt was unsuccessful. Roglič and Yates returned to Vine’s wheel, with Australian continuing to work for his team leader who was recently third in the Tour de France.
Aleksandr Vlasov and Damien Howson later come back as the tempo was not high enough in the last three kilometres of the climb. Near the top of Picon Blanco Yates attacked again but Roglič and the king of 2.1 stage races Damien Howson remained on his wheel. The latter two climbed Picon Blanco in 25:21 minutes with 6.20 ᵉW/Kg whilst Yates did a little bit more work in the wind and did 6.22 ᵉW/Kg. Vine who had spent himself working for Yates and Vlasov followed them 21 seconds later. Pavel Sivakov and Miguel Angel Lopez did the same version of Picon Blanco in the previous edition of Vuelta a Burgos 24 seconds slower than Yates, Roglič and Howson.
It was probably the biggest climbing performance of Howson's career, definitely outside of 2.1 races like the Herald Sun Tour. Jay Vine crashed on the descent and lost multiple minutes in the end. In the leading group of Howson, Vlasov, Yates and Roglič, cooperation with the Slovenian was good, despite Roglič virtually leading GC and having the fastest kick. Jumbo-Visma's leader duly won the small group sprint, his 10th victory of the 2023 season and gaining six valuable bonus seconds on Adam Yates. These could prove crucial as the last mountain day will be on Stage 5 with the famous Lagunas de Neila finish where Yates will surely try again.
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