Odd Christian Eiking among his Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux teammates during stage 12 of the Vuelta a España.

Odd Christian Eiking is ‘relieved’ he’s still in the red jersey after stage 15

Eiking praised the work of his Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux teammates after successfully protecting the race lead at the Vuelta.

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Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) held onto the red jersey after stage 15 of the Vuelta a España, finishing among the GC favourites. The 26-year-old Norwegian takes a 54-second lead over Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) into the second rest day, with Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) currently sitting third 1:36 down.

“I was relieved in the end,” Eiking said after the stage. “It was a really hard day, really long, but I have to say my team did a really good race. Without them, I might not have the red jersey today. A huge thanks to them.”

Eiking looked every bit the Grand Tour leader during Sunday’s mountain stage. Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux was present near the front during the chaotic opening phases, and when a breakaway finally escaped, the Belgian team took over at the front of the peloton to protect the red jersey from attacks.

“I know all the riders in my team are very strong, it’s just we’ve never been in this situation before,” Eiking said. “I see now we should have many times!”

With the stage win going to a solo attacker, the GC group waited until the final third-category climb to test each other. But it was neither long nor particularly steep, and with its peak just 5.4 km from the finish line, any gaps would be small. In the end, only Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) was able to gain any time, and Eiking finished 15 seconds after him with the rest of the top 10.

“I looked at my two closest rivals, Guillaume Martin and [Primoz] Roglic, to not let them go. It was a pretty tough finish, and once we passed the top, I knew I was pretty safe.”

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