Vuelta a Espana #10: Jacques Janse van Rensburg impresses with 4th place finish

Matteo Trentin (Quickstep-Floors) won stage 10 of the Vuelta a Espana by beating Jose Joquim Rojas (Movistar) in a 2-rider sprint. Jaime Roson (Caja-Rural) just pipped our South African, Jacques Janse van Rensburg for 3rd place on the stage.

The 10th stage of the Vuleta a Espana got underway in the pouring rain with riders leaving from Caravaca Jubilar, heading to Elpozo Alimentacion on a 164km route. The early kilometers were mostly flat to gently downhill and this made for an incredibly fast start, so fast in fact that a breakaway was only able to form after 100km racing, the average speed measuring at 52km/h to this point.

In the break, 18 riders were clear and Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka was represented by our South African, Jacques Janse van Rensburg. The two main features of the stage were the 18km climb up to Collado Bermejo and then the 22km descent to the finish thereafter. The climb was broken up into two parts though, first a cat 3 that led straight onto the main cat 1. Janse van Rensburg showed his positive intent just as the climb began and attacked the breakaway, quickly opening a 25″ gap, a margin he maintained through to the summit of the cat 3.

On the category 1 climb, Trentin, Rojas and Roson were able to come across to Janse van Rensburg and they set a fast pace to stay clear of the remaining breakaway riders and the peloton, which was clocked at 4’00” back at this point. Over the top of the climb, the quartet had a healthy lead but still, the technically treacherous 22km downhill remained.

Trentin pushed the pace on the downhill and this saw Janse van Rensburg losing contact initially. It took nerves of steel to navigate down the narrow road, covered in pine needles and constantly cutting back on itself, but Janse van Rensburg was able to bridge back up to the leading trio with 10km to go. At that moment, another acceleration by Trentin and Rojas was enough to gap Roson and Janse van Rensburg for good.

As the road flattened slightly for the final 4km to the line, the leading duo pressed home their 20″ lead with Trentin having the faster kick to the line. Roson and Janse van Rensburg, visibly out of breath from a tough final chase, took the minor placings but a fantastic result nonetheless by our South African climber. Igor Anton finished comfortably with the main GC group today and moved up 3 places on GC, to sit 18th overall, Chris Froome (Team Sky) still the leader overall.

Jacques Janse van Rensburg – Rider
It’s been quite a battle for me after the Giro. I went to Slovenia after the Giro and crashed on the 2nd stage, breaking my collarbone and three ribs. It took a while to get back into training and find some good shape. I wasn’t feeling bad in the first 9 stages here but the legs were a little slow. After the rest day, the legs finally arrived and it was nice to get into the break after 100km of fighting for it today. On the first climb, I felt really good and decided to try something and went for it early. I got 30 seconds and then rode my own tempo because I knew the guys behind would look at each other, some trying to save their legs and riding a bit negative so I just did my own race.  I think it worked out well with 3 guys coming across to me on the big climb. It was then down to who was tactically going to be the strongest on the descent and take the most risk because the road was still wet. That road is known for a number of crashes so I was a bit nervous, having broken bones for the last 3 years running already. I was able to come back on a little kicker in the middle of the descent but then on the bottom part of the descent Trentin and Rojas went away again. We didn’t lose much time but that’s how it would end. I felt like I was the strongest in the break though so that’s good motivation for the rest of the race.