Quick Step’s Remco Evenepoel is still on track to become Belgium’s first grand tour winner in 44 years if he can survive one more hellish week at the 2022 Vuelta a España, following today’s performance where he ceded minimal time to his rivals atop the Sierra Nevada. Enric Mas of Movistar enlivened the action on the final climb with a counterattack to follow Astana’s Miguel Angel Lopez, after Roglic’s Jumbo team failed to launch their leader at the start of the climb as expected. Evenepoel, then in charge of the teammate-less leaders’ group, let Mas go and kept on his pace, neutralizing Roglic until the final 2km when the Slovenian and three-time defending winner finally got clear with Ben O’Connor of AG2R. But nobody really made major headway against Evenepoel on the day, with Mas gaining 36 seconds to pull within 2:01 of the Belgian, and Roglic securing another 14, entering the rest day 1:34 off the pace.
DSM’s Thymen Arensman grabbed the stage win, coming around a faltering Marc Soler on the final climb and soloing home safely ahead of the remainders of the breakaway, keeping a final cushion of 1.23 over the chasing group of GC riders. For the Pelican of Deil, it was his second win at the World Tour level in his third full season at the top level, and moved him into 8th overall, signaling his rise into grand tour contention at age 22. Mas held off Lopez for second place on the stage.
For all the expectations coming in, the race ended up being a mild disappointment to Evenepoel’s rivals, who had him on the ropes just 24 hours ago. Jumbo was spoiling for this fight, surrounding Roglic with helpers at the start of the final climb, only to see them all melt away over the 20% gradient, leaving their captain alone to fight with the leaders. To his credit, Evenepoel was undaunted by the maneuvers, and while his final time loss wasn’t ideal, it was a lot less than expected after yesterday’s struggles. The rest day will offer him a chance to regroup after the hardest phase of the Vuelta (on paper anyway), as he hopes the final three mountain stages, featuring no shortage of climbs but nothing of the altitude or difficulty faced over the last two stages, offer too little space for his rivals to claw back their considerable deficits. Evenepoel may have been hampered yesterday by a crash suffered on Thursday, and even that limitation should be faded into history by the time the peloton rolls out again Tuesday.
One of the more heroic rides of the day featured 19-year-old Juan Ayuso, struggling for seemingly ages off the back of the leaders’ group, only to keep his head and even come past Evenepoel to remain in fourth place overall. His UAE team seems more intent on letting riders chase stage victories than helping their overall leader, making Ayuso’s effort all the more impressive, defiant even. Alpecin’s Jay Vine grabbed a few more mountain points and now leads Richard Carapaz of INEOS by 59-30, while Mads Pedersen extended his insurmountable lead in the points competition.
- Thymen Arensman, Team DSM0, 4:17:17
- Enric Mas, Movistar Team, + 01:23
- Miguel Ángel López, Astana Qazaqstan Team, + 01:25
- Jay Vine, Alpecin-Deceuninck, + 01:30
- Primoz Roglic, Jumbo-Visma + 01:44
- Ben O’Connor, AG2R Citroën Team,+ 01:44
- Juan Ayuso, UAE Team Emirates,+ 01:55
- Jai Hindley BORA-hansgrohe,+ 01:55
- Louis Meintjes, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert, + 01:55
- Remco Evenepoel, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team, + 01:59
- Evenepoel, 56:40:49
- Roglic, + 01:34
- Mas, + 02:01
- Ayuso, + 04:49
- Carlos Rodriguez, INEOS Grenadiers, + 05:16
- López, + 05:24
- Joao Almeida, UAE Team Emirates, + 07:00
- Arensman, + 07:05
- O’Connor, + 08:57
- Hindley, + 11:36
Martos - Sierra Nevada 153 km
Is long climbs at altitude Remco’s kryptonite or was he just feeling his hip boo-boo yesterday? Tune in today and find out.
Expected finish: 17:15 - 17:45 CEST
Snowy Mountain Guy of the Day : Miguel Angel Lopez
When things go well they usually keep going well for him until they don’t.