Omar Fraile rode back into the blue-dotted KOM jersey today by taking over the lead in the Mountains classification on stage 20 of the 2016 Vuelta a Espana. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka played it smart and rode attentively right from the start. The penultimate day of this year’s Spanish Grand Tour offered 5 chances to gain points for the KOM classification and it was a nail biting fight all the way down to the finish line.
Fraile jumped into the days first break and countered an attack of Kenny Elissonde (FDJ), who lead the classification this morning. The Basque crossed the summit in first position and gained enough points to take the lead by two points. From then on the race was really on. Several attacks followed until Rudy Molard (Cofidis) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) rode away from the rest. They opened up a maximum gap of more than 3 minutes over a chase group that included Elissonde. However, the French would only notch up 1 more point over the course of the day.
The chasers came really close to the break going into the final climb of the day. But with this one being the last chance for the GC contenders to make up ground in the overall it was all set for a finish in our African team’s favor.
Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) was the first to attack from the GC contenders group and the Colombian would manage to climb to 3rd overall. Chris Froome (Sky) also tried to attack GC leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar), yet has to settle for 2nd position. Quintana will take the red leaders jersey to Madrid tomorrow.
The stage win went to Pierre Latour (Ag2R) who bridged across to the former breakaway together with Darwin Atapume (BMC), before riding clear and eventually outsprinting the latter inside the final few hundred meters. Elissonde, however, couldn’t get more points in the end and was reeled in by the GC contenders, thus meaning he had to give the KOM jersey away at the end of the stage.
Fraile now leads the KOM classification by a margin of 1 point over Elissonde going into the final stage tomorrow. Without any points left on offer it means that Fraile only needs to finish the stage in Madrid to win the jersey for a second time in his career. It will be the first time Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will take home a leaders jersey at a Grand Tour after 3 weeks of racing.
Omar Fraile – Rider
Today was a hard day. I was able to get into the early break. Elissonde attacked 3km from the first KOM but I was able to counter his move and get the points there. I had an issue with my bike after the climb when the other break went and couldn’t get in there, so I was nervous until the end of the stage. Now I’m just really happy. To get this jersey was a big motivation for me.