Stage 15 of the 2016 Vuelta a Espana started off with some bad news for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka as Jacques Janse van Rensburg was forced to withdraw from the race. Last year’s South African road race champion suffered a broken collarbone as a result of his crash on yesterday’s stage. But it didn’t take long until some better news broke: Omar Fraile yet again managed to get into the break of the day.
With only 118 kilometers of racing and 3 categorized climbs on the menu it was always going to be a fast stage. Few would have imagined though that Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) would be the one to open the fireworks. He attacked from the gun and dragged race leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar) along. Both had a few teammates around them and quickly forged clear. Their move forced Chris Froome (Sky) and Esteban Chavez (Orica-BikeExchange) to chase. However, they couldn’t close the gap. Instead Froome and Chavez were to loose time towards the finish.
Fraile was alert and quick enough to jump onto Quintana’s wheel, when the Colombian accelerated and thus was able to form part of the break. Sitting second in the KOM classification he was eager to score points for the blue Polka Dot jersey. However, classification leader Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) also rode attentively and got into the break.
Fraile got the maximum points on the first 2 climbs before the race headed into the final 14 kilometer long drag to the finish. With 7 kilometers to go the break’s gap over the Froome group was still at 2 minutes and it was then that Quintana decided to increase the pace. Fraile had to let go, while Elissonde managed to hang on. Crossing the line in 4th, the Frenchman scored points on the line as well. Fraile’s fighting spirit over the first part of the stage though meant that he was able to get closer to Elissonde. The gap between the 2 riders is now down to 8 points.
Besides the battle for the KOM classification, the day first and foremost saw a race for the GC. Quintana and Contador worked well together and managed to start the final climb solidly ahead of Froome. When Quintana attacked, only Contador and Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-QuickStep) were able to keep up with the pace. Yet, with 1.5 kilometers to go the Spaniard had to give in. Not so Brambilla, who would go on to win the stage while Quintana extended his lead in the GC.
Omar Fraile – Rider
The start was very fast. I wanted to be part of the break and try to get points for the KOM classification. Kenny Elissonde had the same in mind, and with Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador it was a good break to be involved in. We went really fast in the beginning and I was able to cross the first two climbs in first position. On the last climb of the day I tried to hang on as long as possible, but when Nairo increased the pace I couldn’t follow anymore. I think it was a good day though. Now I’m trying to recover as good as possible. Tomorrow is another day.