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Which one will the British squad back? Sport director Matteo Tosatto said the road will decide.
“We will have more information this weekend about really where everyone stands,” Tosatto told VeloNews. “The next three stages are super important for the GC. Two mountain stages and the TT on Tuesday.
“Tomorrow many teams will attack, and I think tomorrow is harder than even yesterday. We have to keep the boys together and race our race.”
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Ineos Grenadiers is floating a bit under the radar so far in this Vuelta, especially with Jumbo-Visma’s Primož Roglič and Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s Remco Evenepoel dominating the narrative in the opening week.
The British super-team brings confirmed grand tour winners with Richard Carapaz and Tao Geoghegan Hart, while Pavel Sivakov and Spanish sensation Carlos Rodríguez are rising to the occasion.
Sivakov, Hart, and grand tour rookie Rodríguez are stacked up sixth, seventh, and eighth, respectively, with all three about 90 seconds behind race leader Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl). Carapaz is still hanging in the top-20 despite a rough ride in Thursday’s rainy summit finish at Pico Jano.
“Yesterday for us was a really good stage, because we have three guys in the top-10,” Tosatto said. “Maybe not against the winner of the stage, but remember that Carlos is super-young, Pavel and Tao are back are to a high level. The team did a great performance.”
‘Richie suffered on the final climb’
Tosatto downplayed losses by Carapaz, a winner of the 2019 Giro and second in the 2020 Vuelta. After riding to second at the Giro, he’s racing his final grand tour with Ineos Grenadiers before moving to EF Education-EasyPost for 2023 in a high-profile transfer.
Carapaz struggled to match the pace Thursday, and ceded some important minutes to the top GC favorites, and dropped nine spots on GC into 19th at 2:56 behind Evenepoel.
“OK, Richie suffered on the last climb with the weather, but from now on, the Vuelta starts with the GC riders,” he said. “In the stage he had a good feeling, on the second to last climb and it was super steep, and he not suffering there with Quick-Step. He only suffered on the final climb with the change of cadence.
“Richard is super calm. He is objective, and he knows he didn’t have super legs in the last 10km,” Tosatto said. “Recovery is important, and Saturday there is another big test, and we will see the situation.”
Asturias weekend: ‘The best will be at the front’
Tosatto looks ahead to the weekend’s pair of brutal climbing stages in Asturias stacked up this weekend, and the individual time trial Tuesday in Alicante after Monday’s rest day as a major turning point in the race.
“This weekend is different, and we will see the best at the front,” Tosatto said. “It’s important for the team to stay together and support each other in the final.”
Tosatto said the team could use its numerical advantage to play off the favorites, and to try to move up.
“It’s super good news to see Pavel riding at the front, but we already saw that he had great condition in the earlier races,” Tosatto said. “It’s a great ride for Carlos, Pavel, and Tao, and it’s good to see Tao at the high level.
“Three guys in the top-10, it’s possible to move the race. The most important thing is always the legs.”