The 40.2k ITT was not perfectly suited to Team KATUSHA ALPECIN’S Ilnur Zakarin, but nevertheless, the Russian rider came up with a strong fourth place result and remains dedicated to a final place on the podium at this end of the 72nd Vuelta a España. Stage 16 began at Circuito de Navarra and ended in Logroño.
“I gave everything I had. I don’t think I made any mistakes. In cycling it is important after a race not to worry about anything that could have gone wrong or consider that I did not do enough. I really don’t have any feeling about a mistake I’d made. I gave my maximum. I did everything that was possible,” said team captain Ilnur Zakarin.
Ilnur’s fourth place (+.59) to stage winner Chris Froome (Team Sky) caused him to slip one spot on the overall, and he now needs 27-seconds to jump back into third place. With two mountain stages still to come, Zakarin feels confident there is still a fight to be had.
“In this ‘game’ I’m not the winner but we have at least two mountains stages ahead of us and I will fight until the end to arrive at the overall podium in Madrid. That I lost 30 seconds today does not change so much. I have a lot of motivation. It’s not because they took away something from me that I don’t have enough in my reservoir. I will do everything to come back to the top 3,” promised Ilnur Zakarin.
Froome leads by 1:58 to Vincenzo Nibali and 2:40 to Wilco Kelderman of Team Sunweb. Zakarin’s fourth place is at 3:07 to overall leader Froome.
Tomorrow is an uphill finish on the beyond category climb to Alto de los Machucos. It’s a chance for Zakarin to show his climbing legs yet again. He won’t be alone in his desire to show good form, as the Colombian riders lost 1-3 minutes in today’s individual time trial.
“It’s too early to talk about it. Now I need some rest and I need to pull my mind together. Tomorrow morning we go to the start with fresh power and new plans. The only thing I can say about the Colombians is that I am sure they will try to make up some time. They will attack for sure, just like I will do,” said Zakarin.
At 180.5k, stage 17 begins in Villadiego and ends in Los Machucos.
Photo credit © Tim De Waele