The main storyline emerging from Stage 13 of the 2020 Vuelta will be the class of Primož Roglič. The Slovenian claimed his fourth victory of the race, returning to first in the overall standings in the process. In a week’s time, it very well may turn out that today’s 33.7 kilometer course was the setting for the ride that clinched Roglič’s second straight Vuelta title.
However, for Will Barta, today was about something a little bit different. The 24-year-old American used Stage 13 to deliver a timely reminder of his capabilities on a bike. Today certainly may be remembered by most for Roglič’s winning ride. Barta may remember it as the day that he secured himself a vital World Tour contract for next season.
Sitting in 25th overall at the start of the day, Barta got underway at 3:53 pm local time. It became apparent that Barta was doing something special 12 kilometers later. The native of Boise equaled the time of Nelson Oliveira to move into first place at the first intermediate time check.
Remarkably, the same exact thing occurred 12.5 kilometers later. Barta once again equaled Oliveira’s time at the second check. This put the CCC Team rider into first place provisionally with 9.2 kilometers remaining in his effort.
The final 1.8 kilometers of the race were crucial, with the riders climbing the painfully steep Mirador de Ézaro. It was on that climb that Barta shone. The American was 15 seconds behind Oliveira after completing his switch to a lighter bike at the base of the climb. From that point onwards he exploded up the climb, recording a blistering time of 7:28. When Barta reached the finish line, his best-for-last performance had earned him a nine second advantage over the more experienced Oliveira.
Break Out Result
Unfortunately for Barta, he was up against some pretty stiff competition. The American’s time held up until the penultimate rider of the day. Roglič flew up the final climb to cap off a ride that put his world class time trialing and climbing skills on full display. In the end, it was only enough to beat the man from Idaho by one second.
Missing out on a first professional victory by a single second has to sting, but there is no question that Barta can be extremely proud of his ride today. Barta demonstrated his potential as a time trialist in the 2017 season with some extremely strong performances over four days at the National Championships. Then riding for Axeon Hagens Berman, Barta finished second in the U23 ITT and eighth in the U23 Road Race. He was not done there, adding in a fourth and an 11th in the senior ITT and Road Race as well.
In his sophomore season at the World Tour level, Barta is putting together the best year of his young career. Prior to today, Barta’s best World Tour result was an eighth place in a Stage 5 time trial at the 2019 Tour de Romandie. Today he secured his first ever World Tour podium. Barta’s ride was a huge next step in the search for that elusive first victory.
Perhaps even more important than the result on the day is what Barta’s ride does for his value going forward. 2020 has been a very difficult year for businesses. Sponsors of pro cycling teams are not excluded from dealing with the unique challenges of a global pandemic. CCC, the title sponsor of Barta’s employer, has unfortunately decided to step away from the team. This means that the team’s riders have been plunged into uncertainty as they hope to secure a new contract for the 2021 season.
The sentiment on cycling twitter today is that Barta’s ride has most certainly elevated his stock going forward. Barta has demonstrated some solid climbing over the course of the Vuelta to go with today’s incredible time trial. Notably, Barta finished 25th on the punishing Angliru stage. After today’s performance, Barta has moved up to 22nd in the general classification.
Knocking on the door of top 20 in your second grand tour is no easy feat. Considering Barta is still only 24, the strides he has taken this season would suggest there is a lot more still to come. With the clock ticking down on the 2020 season, Barta needed to use this Vuelta to advertise his abilities to potential suitors.
With his ride today, Barta has most certainly done that. Second place in a grand tour time trial is clear evidence that Barta is a rider worth investing in.
– Andrew Fasciano (@afasc573)
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