Despite arriving at the 2019 Vuelta a España with the best Grand Tour pedigree of any team, Team Ineos has not featured in any serious way other than as news copy footnote.
By
Cycling Central

30 Aug 2019 - 9:42 AM 

Its depth is such that even without a Chris Froome, Egan Bernal or Geraint Thomas in the lineup, expectations are that they will be at the business end of a Grand Tour when it counted.

The team, however, has been nowhere after Stage 5, with its two protected riders, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Wout Poels, well out of contention after Stage two where they lost some 10 minutes to their rivals.

Both are now more than 20 minutes in arrears and relegated to riding for stages or in support of its now highest placed rider, the 30-year-old veteran David de la Cruz.

As the race has slowly tilted upwards, de la Cruz has moved up the general classification rankings with consistent riding, from 60th after the Stage 1 TTT to second overall at the conclusion of Stage 6.

He got there after making the break with Stage winner Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) and new overall leader Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) and finished ninth to put himself on the podium.

Herrada wins crash affected sixth stage as Teuns takes Vuelta lead
Jesus Herrada won the crash-marred sixth stage of the Vuelta a España with Dylan Teuns claiming the leader's red jersey after a successful breakaway.

“It was a really hard day," de la Cruz said. "Mentally I was hoping to take the stage victory but ultimately I didn’t have the legs to beat these guys. They were stronger than me.

"What can I say? I gave my best. It wasn’t enough today but I have to keep trying. Let’s hope that a good result is coming.

“I didn’t have the perfect year with injuries and crashes but things are how they are and I don’t want to find an excuse. The important thing is the legs.

"I lost quite a lot of time yesterday and also in Calpe. It’s hard to lose this time and still be thinking of the GC, but let’s see how the legs are tomorrow and we will see what I can do.”

If there is a rider who could salvage some classification pride for Team Ineos it will have to be de la Cruz. He does have a Vuelta career stage win and wore red as the overall leader back in 2016 and last year finished 15th overall.

A top-10 at the Vuelta would be an enticing proposition for the Spaniard at this stage of his career. The team has the resources to support him in that task, all he needs is the legs to see him through the harder stages to come and on to Madrid.

Stage 7 of the Vuelta is a steadily rising 183.2km stage from Onda to Mas de la Costa.