Vuelta 2018 Stage 9: King solos to second mountain win, Simon Yates new leader

Stage 9 in the Vuelta a España is the first proper high mountain contest. Following a race with 4,000 vertical metres the race boils down to a Ben King-Bauke Mollema clash on the final climb to La Covatilla with the American claiming his second stage success this Vuelta. Simon Yates moves into the GC lead, 1 second ahead of Alejandro Valverde. (Slideshow route/profile)

Results 9th stage 2018 Vuelta a España

1. Benjamin King (usa)
2. Bauke Mollema (nld) + 0.48
3. Dylan Teuns (bel) + 2.38
4. Miguel Ángel López (col) + 2.40
5. Nairo Quintana (col) s.t.
6. Wilco Kelderman (nld) s.t.
7. Rigoberto Uran (col) + 2.43
8. Ion Izagirre (spa) + 2.46
9. Simon Yates (gbr) + 2.49
10. George Bennett (nzl) + 3.02

11. Alejandro Valverde (spa) + 3.04
12. Thibaut Pinot (fra) + 3.05
13. Steven Kruijswijk (nld) s.t.
14. Tony Gallopin (fra) s.t.
15. Emanuel Buchmann (ger) + 3.08
16. Fabio Aru (ita) + 3.20
18. David de la Cruz (spa) + 3.32
19. Enric Mas (spa) s.t.
21. Louis Meintjes (rsa) + 3.32
25. Michal Kwiatkowski (pol) + 4.44
32. Rafal Majka (pol) + 4.56

GC after the 9th stage
1. Simon Yates (gbr)
2. Alejandro Valverde (spa) + 0.01
3. Nairo Quintana (col) + 0.14
4. Emanuel Buchmann (ger) + 0.16
5. Ion Izagirre (spa) + 0.17
6. Tony Gallopin (fra) + 0.24
7. Miguel Ángel López (col) + 0.27
8. Rigoberto Uran (col) + 0.32
9. Steven Kruijswijk (nld) + 0.43
10. George Bennett (nzl) + 0.48

11. Fabio Aru (ita) + 1.08
12. Enric Mas (spa) + 1.15
13. David de la Cruz (spa) + 1.26
14. Wilco Kelderman (nld) + 1.50
15. Michal Kwiatkowski (pol) + 2.10
16. Thibaut Pinot (fra) + 2.33

Race report
Once the flag is dropped KOM leader Luis Ángel Maté jumps. Bauke Mollema, Thomas De Gendt, Dylan Teuns, Ben King, Jesus Ezquerra, Kenneth Vanbilsen, Tom Leezer, Aritz Bagües, Reto Hollenstein, and Lluís Mas Bonet join him.

The eleven crest the first climb, Puerto del Pico, more than 5 minutes ahead of the peloton. The gap widens on the Alto de Gredos and the Puerto de Peña Negra to almost 7 minutes. On all climbs Maté pockets most KOM points to cement his lead in the mountain classification.

In the transition to the final climb the front group distances the peloton to more than 10 minutes.

With 20 kms remaining Mas accelerates and King joins him. King heads out alone on the steep cobbles in the village of Candelario. He tackles the climb to La Covatilla – 9.8 kilometres at 7.1% – 1.30 minutes ahead of the chasers and the peloton is more than 6 minutes in arrears.

Mollema is the only chaser left on the final haul up. He is coming closer along the way, but never closer than 20 seconds. The climb flattens out in the last kms and it’s there that King starts to pull away once more, and Mollema fades. On the lower slopes leader Rudy Mollard and Michal Kwiatkowski can’t follow the pace in the main group.

While King crosses the line, exhausted but jubilant, a group with Wilco Kelderman, Miguel Ángel López, Rigoberto Uran, Ion Izagirre and Nairo Quintana leave the other GC contenders behind. Simon Yates desperately tries to bridge across, but fails. Yet, he comes close enough to move into the overall lead, 1 second ahead of Alejandro Valverde. Nairo Quintana now sits in third, 14 seconds down on the leader’s jersey.

Read also: route 9th stage 2018 Vuelta a España.

Vuelta a España 2018 stage 9: Route map, height profile, and more

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