Memories. Fragments you remember not because you picked them up but because they snagged on.
Today for me it's going to be two images: Rubens Plaza Molina throwing his gloves on the finish line and Tom Dumoulin shaking his head, ruefully.There was a very large break-away: 38 riders! Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka), Lawrance Warbasse (IAM Cycling), Dani Navarro (Cofidis) Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo), José Gonçalves (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Moreno Moser (Cannondale-Garmin) y Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar), Kevin Reza (FDJ), Andrey Amador (Movistar), Haimar Zubeldia (Trek), Carlos Quintero (Colombia), Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Garmin), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Sergio Henao (Team Sky), Andrey Zeits (Astana), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo), Luis León Sánchez (Astana), José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar), Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida), Alberto Losada (Katusha), Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Alessandro de Marchi (BMC), Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida), David Arroyo (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Kenny Elissonde (FDJ), Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin), Carlos Verona (Etixx-Quick Step), Amael Moinard (BMC), Nicolas Roche (Team Sky), Jelle Vanendert, Jasper De Buyst (Lotto-Soudal), Alex Cano (Team Colombia), Romain Sicard (Europcar) and Fran Ventoso (Movistar).
They had got a very confortable advantage, around 10' but Plaza Molina attacked with something like 70 km to go. Crazy! He climbed solo la Morcuera three times.
Behind MTN Qhubeka and Giant Alpecin were sharing the lead. In front Giovanni Visconti and Alessandro De Marchi got off chasing Plaza Molina.
Then, suddenly Aru attacks. It's 50 km to go and the Astana's move splits the peloton: with Aru and Landa there are Dumoulin, Quintana, Majka, Rodriguez, Chaves and Nieve while Valverde got dropped.
Then Mikel Landa attacks again, Aru on his wheel. Dumoulin can't follow. It's the moment that decides the race.
Quintana, Majka, Rodriguez, and Chaves joins atop the Morcuera. Not Dumoulin who is at 20'' chasing with Mikel Nieve.
Approaching the last climb, Puerto de Cotos, Ruben Plaza Molina is still solo, Visconti, De Marchi, Goncalves and Montaguti are at 1'17'' , the the group with Aru comes.
Behind Dumoulin's delay keeps growing: 30 km to go it's around 1'. He shakes his head, looking unable to react.
18 km to go Quintana attacks, Majka on his wheel. Dumoulin is 2' 30'' behind. In front Rubens Plaza Molina wins and on the line throws his gloves toward the crowd! What an exploit!
After the rest of the break-away, the group with Aru arrives: Chaves and Rodriguez sprint to take a few seconds. Aru just rises an arm, celebrating already. Dumoulin cracked. La Vuelta is - probably - won.
“At the moment, it’s just disappointment. Tomorrow I will be proud but today it’s just disappointment. I was just empty, I had no legs. I had an idea that was the case but I just fought for what I was worth and in the end you just got to deal with it.”
"This victory is thanks to my teammates, it’s not just about me. They’ve been phenomenal for the whole Vuelta – Mikel, Luis Leon and Dario Cataldo – and we think of the guys who aren’t here, Paolo Tiralongo and Vincenzo Nibali. We had our difficulties at the start of this Giro but we’ve worked hard and we’ve been very united."
1 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 83:01:40
2 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha 00:01:17
3 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 00:01:29
4 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar 00:02:02
5 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge 00:03:30
6 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin 00:03:46
7 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar 00:07:10
8 Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky 00:07:26
9 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha 00:07:32
10 Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka 00:10:46
1 Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Lampre-Merida 04:37:05
2 Jose Goncalves (Por) Caja Rural-RGA Seguros 00:01:07
3 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team 00:01:08
4 Romain Sicard (Fra) Europcar 00:01:29
5 Amael Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team 00:01:30
6 Carlos Verona (Spa) Etixx-QuickStep
7 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Team Sky
8 Kenny Elissonde (Fra) FDJ 00:01:35
9 Matteo Montaguti (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale 00:01:43
10 Moreno Moser (Ita) Team Cannondale-Garmin 00:02:40