As the atypically shortened 75th edition of the La Vuelta a España 2020 progresses, we can still look forward to five more exciting stages. Yesterday’s stage 13 from Muros to Mirador de Ézaro offered a winding coastal time trial topped off with an arduous near-finish climb touching on 20% gradient in places. This setup is nothing unusual for a La Vuelta stage yet still it was a singular event – the all-new, fully electric ŠKODA ENYAQ iV made an appearance as an accompanying car for Primož Roglič, the man wearing the ŠKODA Green Jersey at the time. This marks a stepping stone both for the automaker as a sponsor and the pro-cycling scene as a whole.
In 2020, ŠKODA’s involvement at Grand Tours has been even more intense and specific than previous years. Besides many seasons of sponsoring the Green Jersey at both Tour de France and the ongoing La Vuelta and supplying a numerous fleet of cars for both events, the automaker debuted the all-new, fully electric model in September, the ENYAQ iV, which became the race director’s leading car for a few stages of both aforementioned races. Given ŠKODA’s history with pro-bike racing and bicycles in general, it’s only natural that the world’s greatest cycling races became the perfect place to showcase the manufacturer’s new exciting vehicle.
Yesterday, the velvet-red ŠKODA ENYAQ iV replaced the SUPERB iV model previously and continuously used and will do so for two more stages, 17 and 18. This high-profile vehicle carries on board none other than La Vuelta’s race director Javier Guillén so he could carry out his organizational duties as swiftly and smoothly as possible. Under its hood, the modular electrification toolkit (MEB) with the battery pack ranging from 55 kWh to 82 kWh and a single charge of up to 510 km works in almost utmost silence to make the car Mr Guillén’s command centre as the role of the leading car is irreplaceable in a race the scale of La Vuelta. Seated in the back, the race director uses ENYAQ iV’s special add-ons, such as a panoramic glass roof or a two-way radio connected to six outside antennas, to brief his race marshals and keen a sharp eye on all occurrences of the race to troubleshoot them as he goes. That was also the case for the entirety of stage 13.
Yesterday’s starting point was Muros is a quaint and traditional coastal A Coruña village found alongside the winding roads of Galicia. At least the riders enjoyed a picturesque start before their gruelling journey. The last time a La Vuelta time trial ended in a mountain pass was in 2008 – until now. The Mirador de Ézaro is a short, demanding and explosive peak deserving of respect and brought a lot of tension to the preparations for yesterday’s stage.
Stage 13 offered a 34-km-long individual time trial featuring an exhausting and meandering flat stretch alongside the Spanish coast, so climbers had to leave their excitement for another day. The only solace for them might have been the final climb up to Mirador de Ézaro, which was only 1.8-km long but classified as Cat 3 with a killer average 14.8% gradient. To make things even more challenging, 26 km/h gusts of wind were expected throughout the whole stage with headwinds for the best part of the route.
🇬🇧 Stage 13 | #LaVuelta20
⬇️Enjoy the best of the stage with this summary⬇️ pic.twitter.com/WgSWzgPVyz
— La Vuelta (@lavuelta) November 3, 2020
Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) started the final week with La Roja (Red Jersey) on his back after he claimed the overall leadership on the slopes of L’Angliru on Sunday. Carapaz was the very last off the starting ramp today, right after other race hopefuls such as Daniel Martin, Hugh J. Carthy, Enric Mas or Primož Roglič.
In a dramatic turn of events, Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo – Visma) both dethroned Richard Carapaz from the first place in general ranking and is now wearing the Red Jersey, but he also edged out the then-leading young American Will Barta (CCC Team) by 1” and brought home his fourth stage win of La Vuelta so far. Carapaz now traded jerseys with Roglič and sits in an overall second place dressed in Green.
“It’s beautiful eh,” said Roglič after the stage. “It’s nice – it was a long time since I won a time trial – it’s a super nice day. I feel strong – surprisingly. I thought I would suffer a lot more, but I went quite fine and it was quite good.”
Even though victorious, Roglič’s result was closer than expected, maybe because of the stage’s sting in the tail in the form of the unforgiving finish climb up the Mirador de Ézaro. The fact remains that his rivals Richard Carapaz and Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) are staying within striking distance of the top. Who knows, maybe the mere one second that took Barta’s debut pro win from him will also turn him into a competition to reckon with.
👏That was close, @willbarta! / A un solo segundo de la victoria😲
— La Vuelta (@lavuelta) November 3, 2020
The general classification ranking stayed mostly unchanged since stage 12, besides the spectacular first and second place switch and Spaniard David De la Cruz Melgarejo replacing compatriot Mikel Nieve on the tenth place.
Stage 13 results: Muros to Mirador de Ézaro (33.7 km)
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 00:46:39
2. William Barta (USA) CCC Team 00:00:01
3. Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team 00:00:10
4. Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling 00:00:25
5. Bruno Armirail (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 00:00:41
6. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck-Quickstep 00:00:46
7. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers 00:00:49
8. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck-Quickstep 00:00:58
9. David De la Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:59
10. Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Team Sunweb 00:01:07
General classification after stage 13
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 49:16:16
2. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers 00:00:39
3. Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling 00:00:47
4. Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation 00:01:42
5. Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team 00:03:23
6. Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain McLaren 00:06:15
7. Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:07:14
8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:08:39
9. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana Pro Team 00:08:48
10. David De la Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) UAE Team Emirates 00:09:23