A final boss and Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) once again put a heavy blow on the head of all his opponents. On Thursday, the red jersey offered its second victory in this Vuelta during the 18th stage between Trujillo and Alto de Piornal (192km).
Tour of Spain
Evenepoel flexes his muscles: relive his sharp attack in the Alto de Piornal
AN HOUR AGO
At a distance from a breakaway of over 40 riders, the Belgian munched everyone on the last climb to give himself his first online victory (the real first was the one with the time trial) at 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 300 meters from the line.
Evenepoel, in ogre mode
Remco Evenepoel wants it all: the Vuelta, the stage wins. The Belgian will leave only crumbs to his opponents until Madrid. However, for many kilometers, the breakaway maintained high hopes of victory as the gap widened to 9 minutes ahead of the pack.
But in the second and last, rather undulating, climb of the Alto de Piornal (13.5 km at 5% average), Prince Remco first resisted the various attacks of his runner-up to General Enric Mas, before finally tackling a 200m from the line to win and recover 10 bonus seconds.
In the overall standings, the Belgian now has an advantage of 2’07 “over the Spaniard and 5’14” over Juan Ayuso, who showed some signs of weakness in the face of attacks from his compatriot.
Mas winner for the podium
Previously, the stage could have been played between six men who made a difference in the initial breakaway of 42 runners. Among the strongest of the day the two Frenchmen Thibaut Pinot and Elie Gesbert. The latter tried to go on an adventure on the final climb, but was thwarted by veteran Robert Gesink, who started alone up to 300m from the finish and the return of Evenepoel and Mas.
If the Belgian has further increased his advantage, the real winner of the day, in the search for the podium in Madrid, is certainly the Spaniard. Because he was the only one able to follow the red jersey and he took time for all his direct opponents for the area. Starting with Juan Ayuso, but also with Carlos Rodriguez, 4th before the start of this stage, but crashed heavily at the start of the race and ended up being discarded by the other favorites to lose a position in the standings.
Joao Almeida made an effort to exit 80 km from the finish. The Portuguese was later aided by teammates Ivo Oliveira and Marc Soler before being caught up on the last climb. The Emirati driver thus remains in 6th place overall. Only Miguel Angel Lopez managed to grab a place (4th hour).
As for the mountain classification, in the same fall as Carlos Rodriguez (which also involved the green Mas Pedersen jersey) the wearer of the polka dot jersey, Jay Vine, was also caught. Winner of two stages in this Vuelta, Vine had to retire and therefore gave up his jersey to Richard Carapaz who now has a 20-point lead over his runner-up Enric Mas.
Remco Evenepoel’s opponents are now missing a big step on Saturday to try to destabilize him before the big arrival in Madrid. But the red jersey looks a lot above the others and seems determined to grab it all before raising her arms one last time in the Spanish capital. A real signed victory.
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