A boss finish and Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) again put a big blow on the head of all his opponents. Thursday, the red jersey offered its second victory on this Vuelta during the 18th stage between Trujillo and Alto de Piornal (192km).
Tour of Spain
Evenepoel shows the muscles: relive his sharp attack in the Alto de Piornal
AN HOUR AGO
Long at a distance from a breakaway of more than 40 riders, the Belgian crunched everyone on the last ascent to offer himself a first online victory (the real first was on a stopwatch) on the Tour of Spain.
Enric Mas (Movistar) finished behind Evenepoel but conceded bonus seconds at the finish. Robert Gesink (Jumbo-Visma), 3rd, had performed a superb solo number before being caught 300m from the line.
Evenepoel, in ogre mode
Remco Evenepoel wants it all: the Vuelta, stage wins. The Belgian will leave only crumbs to his opponents until Madrid. However, for many kilometers, the breakaway kept high hopes of victory as the gap climbed to reach 9 minutes ahead of the peloton.
But in the second and last climb, rather rolling, of the Alto de Piornal (13.5km at 5% average), Prince Remco first of all resisted the various attacks of his runner-up to General Enric Mas, before counter definitively at 200m from the line to win and recover 10 bonus seconds.
In the general classification, the Belgian now has a lead of 2’07” over the Spaniard and 5’14” over Juan Ayuso, who showed some signs of weakness in the face of his compatriot’s attacks.
Mas winner for the podium
Previously, the stage could have been played between six men who had made the difference in the initial breakaway of 42 riders. Among the strongest of the day were the two Frenchmen Thibaut Pinot and Elie Gesbert. The latter did try to go on an adventure on the final climb, but he was countered by the veteran Robert Gesink, who left alone until 300m from the finish and the return of Evenepoel and Mas.
If the Belgian has further increased his lead, the real winner of the day, in the quest for a podium in Madrid, is certainly the Spaniard. Because he was the only one able to follow the red jersey and took time off all his direct opponents for the box. Starting with Juan Ayuso, but also Carlos Rodriguez, 4th before the start of this stage, but who fell heavily at the start of the race and ended up being dropped by the other favorites to drop one position in the standings.
Joao Almeida tried hard to get out 80km from the finish. The Portuguese was successively helped by his teammates Ivo Oliveira and Marc Soler before being caught up on the last climb. The UAE rider thus remains in 6th place overall. Only Miguel Angel Lopez managed to grab a place (4th now).
As for the mountain classification, the wearer of the polka dot jersey, Jay Vine, was also caught in the same fall as Carlos Rodriguez (also involving the green jersey Mas Pedersen). Winner of two stages on this Vuelta, Vine had to retire and therefore gave up his tunic to Richard Carapaz who now has a 20-point lead over his runner-up Enric Mas.
There is now a big step left on Saturday for Remco Evenepoel’s opponents to try to destabilize him before the big arrival in Madrid. But the red jersey seems several notches above the others and seems determined to grab everything before raising its arms one last time in the Spanish capital. A real signature victory.
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