Remco Evenepoel rubber-stamped his Vuelta a Espana title on Sunday, safely negotiating the procession into Madrid.

The 22-year-old joins an illustrious list of names from his native Belgium to have won a Grand Tour, albeit his triumph in Spain marks the end of a long drought for the nation.

Evenepoel's success, however, came at the expense of Primoz Roglic's shot at history.

Roglic was hunting an unprecedented fourth straight Vuelta title, and looked set to overtake Evenepoel in the general classification in stage 16, only to suffer a crash 100 metres from the line.

The Slovenian was unable to carry on due to the injuries he sustained and abandoned La Vuelta for the first time in his career. Roglic has had awful luck in recent Grand Tours, having had to abandon three of the last four he has appeared in.

There were 49 withdrawals across this edition of La Vuelta, the highest number since 2013.

But of the riders that did finish, there were plenty of records and statistics to dive into, courtesy of Opta data.

Belgium's long wait is over

Formula One world champion Max Verstappen shrugged off the jeers and boos he received after triumphing at The son of former pro cyclist Patrick Evenepoel, a young Remco actually started his sporting career in football, with one of his old clubs – Dutch giants PSV – among those to offer their congratulations as he became Vuelta champion.

It marks Evenepoel's first Grand Tour crown, in what was his first appearance at La Vuelta. He led the race for a remarkable 16 stages, which is more than any other rider has led it for since two-time champion Chris Froome managed 19 stages in red back in 2017.

Belgium has produced some fantastic riders, not least the great Eddy Merckx, who counts one Vuelta crown among his 11 Grand Tour titles, yet shockingly Evenepoel is the nation's first GT champion since 1978, when Johan de Muynck won the Giro d'Italia.

Evenepoel is the eighth Belgian to win the Vuelta – the first since Freddy Maertens in 1977. Only Spain (32) and France (nine) have produced more Vuelta champions than Belgium (eight).

Out with the old...

Alejandro Valverde won La Vuelta in 2009, but on his farewell appearance at his home Grand Tour, the 42-year-old was never going to compete for top honours.

Instead, this was his goodbye lap, as Valverde completed his 14th Vuelta, matching the record tallies of Federico Etxabe, Chente Garcia Acosta and Inigo Cuesta.

Spain did have a GC contender to cheer on in the form of Movistar's Enric Mas, but after Roglic's crash, he was unable to close the gap on Evenepoel, finishing over two minutes back. No Spaniard has now won it since 2014, which is the longest streak in the race's history without a home champion.

 

Mas has finished second in three of his four Vuelta appearances, and came in ahead of Juan Ayuso, with two Spanish riders finishing in the top three for the first time since 2014, when Valverde joined champion Alberto Contador on the podium.

Ayuso, who contracted COVID-19 early in the race but carried on, is the youngest rider to achieve a podium finish at La Vuelta (19 years and 360 days). Spain's future seems in good hands.

Carapaz caps personal best, Pedersen a rising star

The red jersey was, of course, not the only one up for grabs. Richard Carapaz and Mads Pedersen both finished with three stage victories to their name.

Carapaz became the first cyclist from the Americas to win the mountain classification since Felix Cardenas of Colombia in 2004, while the INEOS Grenadier rider also marked his best effort at a Grand Tour, surpassing the two stage wins he managed at the 2019 Giro d'Italia.

Vuelta debutant Pedersen, meanwhile, became the first Dane to win the points jersey in any Grand Tour.

It has been a brilliant year for Denmark, with Jonas Vingegaard having claimed the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, and Pedersen is among their best riders. Indeed, the only Dane to have won more stages at La Vuelta than the sprinter is Magnus Cort (six), though the latter has made three appearances in the race.

Primoz Roglic has blamed Fred Wright for causing the crash that led to his withdrawal from the Vuelta a Espana, labelling the incident "unacceptable".

Roglic was sent sprawling after touching wheels with Wright with just 150 metres remaining at the end of a dramatic stage 16 on Tuesday, and withdrew from the race the following day.

Three-time reigning champion Roglic had been second in the overall standings, and his withdrawal leaves Remco Evenepoel as the overwhelming favourite to clinch victory when the race concludes in Madrid on Sunday.

Speaking to Jumbo-Visma's team website on Friday, Roglic expressed his displeasure at the way his race ended and singled out Wright for blame.

"I can walk a little bit. I am happy with that for the moment," Roglic said. "After the crash, it took me time to straighten things out. I asked myself, 'how can this be?'

"My conclusion is that the way this crash happened is unacceptable. Not everyone saw it correctly. The crash was not caused by a bad road or a lack of safety but by a rider's behaviour.

"I don't have eyes on my back. Otherwise, I would have run wide. Wright came from behind and rode the handlebars out of my hands before I knew it."

Jumbo-Visma director Richard Plugge was equally unhappy with Wright's behaviour, adding: "Ten years ago, the older riders were sounding the alarm because the younger ones showed less respect, took irresponsible risks, and pushed their way through everything. 

"The younger ones of yesteryear are the older riders of today. But you still hear the same discussion, even though we are a generation ahead. So that has to change. 

"I'm glad that Primoz is speaking out, looking in the mirror and naming the behaviour of riders as well."

Bahrain Victorious rider Wright is second in the Points Classification standings, but is some 205 points adrift of Mads Pedersen after losing out to the Dane across Friday's 19th stage.

Roglic's withdrawal marks his latest setback during a difficult year. He was forced to leave the Tour de France ahead of the final rest day after suffering injuries sustained in a crash with a stray hay bale on stage five in July.

Primoz Roglic's withdrawal from the Vuelta a Espana is a huge disappointment for Enric Mas, as he aims to chase down Remco Evenepoel in the final stages of the race.

Three-time reigning champion Roglic crashed just before the line on Tuesday, having looked set to take the lead off Evenepoel, who has now held the red jersey for 12 stages of this year's event.

Roglic's chances of an unprecedented fourth straight Vuelta title are now over after the Slovenian elected to withdraw from the race, leaving Mas as Evenepoel's closest rival.

Yet the Spaniard was unable to close the gap on Wednesday as Evenepoel and his Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team managed the red jersey group, with both riders collecting the same time after a 162-kilometre route from Aracena to Monasterio de Tentudia.

Rigoberto Uran claimed a breakaway win, sealing his first individual success at La Vuelta, meaning the 35-year-old has now won a stage at each of the Grand Tours.

Jesus Herrada led until just before the finish, with Uran timing his final attack to perfection to hold off Quentin Pacher and become the fourth different Colombian rider to win a stage at La Vuelta since the start of the 2019 edition.

Mas had to settle for 15th, one place behind Evenepoel, and knows his Movistar team will have to come up with something special to topple the Belgian in the race's final days.

"We go day by day, I think every day is super important. Yesterday you all saw the crash of Primoz. We need to be very focused," Mas said. "It's not nice when somebody crashes. He's a super rider, a super good person. I think it's s*** that Roglic is not here anymore.

"I don't know what we're going to do tomorrow, but if we have good legs and a good feeling, and the atmosphere in the team is super good, we have to do something, no?"

Evenepoel betters Merckx 

He may hold a lead of over two minutes, but Evenepoel is not taking anything for granted, and delivered an expertly controlled ride to keep his rivals at bay.

"Pretty tough, it was not easy at all. Especially the run-in was really nervous and also a big road going quite steep. It looked easier on television than it was in real life," he said.

Evenepoel is the first rider to lead La Vuelta for 12 consecutive stages since 2019, when Roglic led for the final 12. The 22-year-old has now overtaken the great Eddy Merckx as fourth on the list of Belgians with the most days leading the race, after Gustaaf Deloor (32), Freddy Maertens (22) and Rick van Looy (13).

STAGE RESULT

1. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education–EasyPost) 3:42:28
2. Quentin Pacher (Groupama-FDJ) same time
3. Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) +0:02
4. Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) +0:15
5. Kelly Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo) +0:26

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 65:14:05
2. Enric Mas (Movistar) +2:01
3. Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) +4:51

Points Classification

1. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 349
2. Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) 149
3. Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) 133

King of the Mountains

1. Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 59
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Greandiers) 30
3. Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) 22

Three-time Vuelta a Espana winner Primoz Roglic has withdrawn from this year's race following a crash at the end of stage 16 on Tuesday.

The Slovenian went down just 150 metres from the finish after seemingly clashing handlebars with Britain's Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious).

Roglic had been second in the general classification, behind Remco Evenepoel, and his withdrawal leaves the Belgian with a two minute and one second lead over Enric Mas, who moves up a spot from third.

In a tweet, Roglic's team, Jumbo-Visma, stated: "Unfortunately, Primoz Roglic will not be at the start of Stage 17 as a consequence of yesterday's crash.

"Get well soon, champion! Thank you for all the beautiful moments in this Vuelta. You had ambitious plans for the final days, but sadly it isn't meant to be."

The withdrawal continues a difficult year for Roglic, who was forced to leave the Tour de France ahead of the final rest day after suffering injuries sustained in a crash with a stray hay bale on stage five.

The 2022 Vuelta a Espana concludes in Madrid on Sunday.

 #LaVuelta22

Unfortunately, @rogla will not be at the start of stage 17 as a consequence of yesterday’s crash.

Get well soon, champion! Thank you for all the beautiful moments in this Vuelta. You had ambitious plans for the final days, but sadly it isn’t meant to be. pic.twitter.com/C3Vnc8P9EO

— Team Jumbo-Visma cycling (@JumboVismaRoad) September 7, 2022

Mads Pedersen collected his second stage win of this year's Vuelta a Espana but there was plenty of drama in a frantic finish in Tomares.

Three-time reigning champion Primoz Roglic looked set to gain huge ground on leader Remco Evenepoel when he attacked in the final kilometres.

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team positioned themselves at the front with 10km remaining of Tuesday's 188km flat stage from Sanlucar de Barrameda in Andalucia.

Yet it was Roglic's Jumbo-Visma who ended up better placed to launch an attack in the final sprint and that proved to be the case when the Slovenian opened up a gab with just under 3km remaining.

Pedersen and Pascal Ackermann followed hot on Roglic's tail while Evenepoel's frustration was compounded by a puncture, but there was more drama to come.

Danny van Poppel and Fred Wright had joined the lead group, and it was the latter who played a pivotal role in an incident that might well ensure Evenepoel wins his maiden Grand Tour title.

With just 100 metres remaining, Roglic made way for the powerful Pedersen and, as he moved back in, clipped Wright at the rear of the group, landing hard onto the road.

He was able to finish the race with the help of his team but looked in huge distress, with a nasty gash to his right knee. Evenepoel finished over three minutes further back. However, though there was initial confusion as to whether the 3km rule was in place, he ultimately lost only eight seconds to his rival.

Evenepoel, who has now led the race for 11 days, headed straight for Roglic at the finish line, and told reporters: "I heard that Primoz crashed, so I really hope he's okay and that he can continue the race.

"We all know that Primoz is explosive so a final like this is really made for him. That makes it even more of a pity for him that he crashed. You never want somebody to crash – I hope he's okay."

Evenepoel and Roglic benefited from the 3km rule, which is in place to ensure that if a rider suffers a fall, puncture or mechanical incident in the last 3km, they are credited with the same finishing time of the rider or riders they were with at the time of the incident.

Two up for Pedersen but Roglic's history hopes could be over

You can take nothing away from Pedersen, who admitted he was caught off guard by Roglic's brilliantly timed attack – one that would almost certainly have seen the Jumbo-Visma leader take the red jersey had it not been for that crash, which might have well dashed the 32-year-old's hopes of an unprecedented fourth successive Vuelta crown.

"It was a really smart move [from Roglic]. Everyone was really on the limit," Pedersen said. "I didn't hear it. I wanted to go to him here and I saw he was with destroyed clothing. It's a pity that he crashed. He hasn't been lucky this year. I hope it isn't too bad so he can continue competing for the victory of the Vuelta."

Points leader Pedersen is the first Trek-Segafredo rider to win two stages in the same edition of La Vuelta since Alberto Contador in 2017, and is the third competitor to win multiple stages at this year's race, after Sam Bennett and Richard Carapaz (both two).

STAGE RESULT

1. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 4:45:29
2. Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) same time
3. Danny van Poppel (BORA-Hansgrohe) same time
4. Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) same time
5. Quentin Pacher (Groupama-FDJ) +0:08

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 61:26:26
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +1:26
3. Enric Mas (Movistar) +2:01

Points Classification

1. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 349
2. Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) 129
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 107

King of the Mountains

1. Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 59
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Greandiers) 30
3. Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) 22

Overall leader at the Vuelta a Espana, Remco Evenepoel, discussed the chess match between those vying for the general classification (GC) title as he holds the lead through 15 stages.

On Sunday for the 15th stage, Belgium's Evenepoel finished 10th, 11 seconds behind his top GC rival Slovenian Primoz Roglic, while Spain's Enric Mas also cut into the lead. 

Evenepoel will carry the red jersey and a one-minute-34-second lead into the 16th stage on Tuesday, and when speaking to the media he dove into the strategy of a grand tour (GT).

"Roglic and Mas are both going very well," he said. "Roglic was the strongest of all the GC guys on Saturday, Mas was very strong [on Sunday]. 

"When Mas attacked I also knew I was still quite a bit ahead of him in the GC so I didn’t want to go above my own limits, because we were already above 2000m of altitude and what we saw is they attacked, took a gap but then me keeping up my own pace didn’t really allow them to ride away. 

"I was a bit scared to go above my limits, so I kept pushing my own power, and I think on such a hard stage the time loss was quite limited. 

"It’s now the third week, the guy with the best legs will probably be the best in the mountain stages, but the Vuelta is far from over."

With six stages remaining, Evenepoel has a chance to become the first Belgian winner of a GT since 1978, but he says he does not feel pressured to finish the job because he did not expect to be in this position.

"I know that I can be the first winner of a GT for Belgium in a long time, but we’ve still got six days to go so I don’t want to call myself that already," he said.

"For the head it’s best to just try to stay calm and look at the races day by day, see what everyday brings. As we saw last week, a crash happens before you even know it. 

"We had two big passes, unfortunately Julian had to abandon the race, I was okay but there was still some damage to my hip and muscles, so that’s why we have to see day by day. 

"Never panic, even if I lose a bit of time, because if I’d have known I was in this situation before the Vuelta, I would have signed up for it, so everything that happens now is extra.

"A stage win and a top 10, top five, would be my big dream. I think we’re on the road to that."

Thymen Arensman climbed to his first Grand Tour stage win on the Hoya de la Mora as Remco Evenepoel retained the Vuelta a Espana lead on a gruelling Sunday.

Arensman powered his way up to the highest summit of La Vuelta to claim a brilliant victory on a lung-busting stage 15.

It was only a second professional stage win for the Team DSM rider and the biggest of his career, with the Dutchman powering up the road in the Sierra Nevada mountains to cross the line a minute and 23 seconds before Enric Mas.

Miguel Angel Lopez and Jay Vine finished third and fourth respectively, ahead of defending champion Primoz Roglic who was able to chip a further 15 seconds off Evenepoel's advantage courtesy of a late attack.

Evenepoel will start the final week in La Roja following a rest day on Monday, after the Belgian finished what was billed as the 'queen stage' in 10th place on the road.

A strong ride from Mas left him just over two minutes adrift of race leader Evenepoel in the general classification standings.

Jay Vine kept the polka dot jersey in the battle to be crowned king of the mountains in a brutal 153-kilometre route that started in Martos.

Arensman the king of the Sierra Nevada

Arensman reeled in Marc Soler with 7km to go and had enough in the tank to go solo for the victory.

Spaniard Soler had gone on his own from a breakaway group of 12 riders, taking on the challenge at the front up the steepest section of the Alto de Hazallanas, and opened up a lead of around 40 seconds.

He was unable to see it through, though, as Arensman passed him and the 22-year-old stage winner looked in disbelief as he crossed the finishing line.


STAGE RESULT

1. Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) 4:17:17
2. Enric Mas (Movistar) +1:23
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) +1:25
4. Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck) +1:30
5. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +1:44

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 56:40:49
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +1:34
3. Enric Mas (Movistar) +2:01

Points Classification

1. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 284
2. Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) 111
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 107

King of the Mountains

1. Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 59
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Greandiers) 30
3. Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) 22

Remco Evenepoel's lead at the Vuelta a Espana was cut on Saturday as reigning champion Primoz Roglic launched a late attack.

Roglic, who is hunting an unprecedented fourth consecutive Vuelta title, had been two minutes and 41 seconds behind Evenepoel heading into stage 14.

Yet with an attack up the final climb of Sierre de La Pandera, at the culmination of a 160-kilometre route, the Slovenian reduced the Belgian's advantage by almost a minute.

Eveneopel stays the favourite with seven stages remaining, but Roglic offered a timely reminder of his power heading into the final week.

It was not all doom and gloom for Evenepoel, who recovered to finish eighth and at least limit his losses.

"It wasn't my best day for sure, I didn't have the best legs, I couldn't accelerate when Roglic went," Evenepoel said.

"I'm still 1:49 ahead in GC, so nothing to really to panic about. I'll try to recover as much as possible and survive tomorrow."

Roglic came third, finishing behind two South Americans in the form of Miguel Angel Lopez and Richard Carapaz, who claimed his second stage win of this year's race.

The INEOS Grenadiers rider held on after being part of a 10-man breakaway, with his climbing prowess coming to the fore.

Carapaz the king of this mountain

Carapaz is the sixth rider to achieve a stage victory ending on La Pandera in La Vuelta, though the first from the Americas. The Ecuadorian is the second rider to have won two stages at this year's race, after Sam Bennett.

With five Grand Tour stage wins to his name, the 29-year-old is top of the charts among South American riders in that regard, too.

STAGE RESULT

1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Greandiers) 4:09:27
2. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Qazaqstan Team) +0:08
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) same time
4. Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) +0:27
5. Carlos Rodriguez (INEOS Greandiers) +0:36

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 52:21:33
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +1:49
3. Enric Mas (Movistar) +2:43

Points Classification

1. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 267
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 96
3. Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) 96

King of the Mountains

1. Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 40
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Greandiers) 26
3. Robert Stannard (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 21

Remco Evenepoel kept his Vuelta a Espana lead firmly intact despite Primoz Roglic's efforts, as Mads Pedersen sprinted to victory on Friday.

Evenepoel had suffered a fall on Thursday but kept safely in the peloton in stage 13 to ensure history hunting Roglic – who crossed over the line in ninth on the uphill finish in Montilla – did not make a dent into his general classification lead.

A bunch sprint for the line was won by Pedersen, who recorded the first Vuelta stage win of his career, following on from a maiden individual success at the Tour de France earlier this year.

Pedersen, who already held the green points jersey, had to react sharply to an attack from Pascal Ackermann in the last 500 metres, but the Dane had too much power and had time to celebrate as he crossed.

Along with Kaden Groves and Bryan Coquard, Pedersen had previously reeled in a three-man breakaway of Julius van den Berg, Ander Okamika and Joan Bou.

Coquard had enough to overtake Ackermann, who just about held onto third place ahead of Fred Wright.

"It's super nice," Trek-Segafredo rider Pedersen told reporters after ensuring a Dane has won at least one stage at La Vuelta for four consecutive editions of the Grand Tour.

"We came here for a stage win and now we have won. We'll keep fighting to get one more.

"It's nice with a comfortable lead in the points jersey. We keep fighting for the stages and we'll see how it goes."

Evenepoel, meanwhile, has now held the red jersey for eight successive stages, the longest such streak for a Belgian at La Vuelta since Ferdi Van den Haute in 1978 (10 stages).

COVID not stopping Ayuso

A raft of positive COVID-19 cases have disrupted this year's race, but one rider who is able to carry on is Juan Ayuso.

The UAE Team Emirates youngster - who sits an impressive fifth returned a positive test result ahead of Friday's stage, and team doctor Adrian Rotunno confirmed the 19-year-old is fine to continue.

"As per our internal protocols Juan Ayuso was tested for COVID-19 and returned a positive result this morning. He is asymptomatic and analysing his PCR found he had a very low risk of infectivity, similar to cases such as we saw at this year's Tour de France," Rotunno confirmed to the media.

STAGE RESULT

1. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 3:46:01
2. Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) same time
3. Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) same time
4. Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) same time
5. Danny van Poppel (BORA-Hansgrohe) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 48:11:10
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +2:41
3. Enric Mas (Movistar) +3:03

Points Classification

1. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 247
2. Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) 96
3. Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) 96

King of the Mountains

1. Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 40
2. Robert Stannard (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 21
3. Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) 20

Remco Evenepoel produced an individual time-trial masterclass on stage 10 to increase his overall lead in the Vuelta a Espana.

The 22-year-old Belgian completed the 30.9-kilometre course in a blistering 33 minutes and 18 seconds in Alicante on Tuesday, making a big statement following a rest day.

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider Evenepoel extended his general classification advantage to two minutes and 41 seconds over defending champion Primoz Roglic, who moved above Enric Mas into second place.

It was a maiden Grand Tour stage victory for Evenepoel, who powered along the route to strengthen his grip on La Roja.

Jumbo-Visma's Roglic crossed the line 48 seconds slower than the leader, while Evenepoel's team-mate Remi Cavagna was a full minute off the pace in third place.

INEOS Grenadiers duo Carlos Rodriguez and Pavel Sivakov finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Sam Bennett, a contender to win the sprint jersey, was unable to take to the ramp to start stage 10 due to a positive COVID-19 test that ended his participation in the race.

Evenepoel's time-trial triumph ends long Belgium wait

Not since 1979 had a Belgian rider won an individual time trial at the Vuelta, with Fons De Wolf the man to set the pace all those years ago in Valladolid.

This was a special day for Evenepoel as he took the top step of the podium and gave himself further breathing space, knowing there is plenty of work still to be done.

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 33:18
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +0.48
3. Remi Cavagna (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) +1:00
4. Carlos Rodriguez (INEOS Grenadiers) +1:22
5. Pavel Sivakov (INEOS Grenadiers) +1:27

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 34:35:50
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +2:41
3. Enric Mas (Movistar) +3:03

Points Classification

1. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 147
2. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 85
3. Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) 81

King of the Mountains

1. Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 40
2. Robert Stannard (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 21
3. Jimmy Janssens (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 17

Remco Evenepoel extended his overall lead at the Vuelta a Espana as he stormed up the final climb during stage nine.

Evenepoel held a 28-second lead in the General Classification heading into Sunday's 153.4-kilometre route from Villaviciosa to Les Praeres, but is now over a minute ahead of the chasing pack, including three-time reigning champion Primoz Roglic.

Indeed, Roglic's chances of claiming an unprecedented fourth straight Vuelta crown will look bleak if Evenepoel can replicate this form for the rest of the race.

Louis Meintjes was the stage winner on the category one climb to the line, finishing over a minute ahead of Italian duo Samuele Battistella and Edoardo Zambanini.

Evenepoel came in fourth, well over a minute behind Meintjes, but he was 44 seconds clear of Enric Mas, who occupies second in the race for the red jersey, and 53 seconds ahead of Roglic.

The Belgian is now one minute and 12 seconds ahead of Mas and almost two minutes better off than Roglic, and his feat is even more impressive considering he went into the stage having lost a key figure in his team, with Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl domestique Pieter Serry having tested positive for COVID-19.

Likewise, Roglic and Jumbo-Visma will have to manage the rest of the La Vuelta without Sepp Kuss, who withdrew with a fever, while Wout Poels joined Serry in returning a positive coronavirus test.

Maiden win for Meintjes 

While Evenepoel did the damage in the GC, Meintjes' ride cannot be overlooked. He was the strongest of a nine-man breakaway and held on to claim his first stage win at a Grand Tour.

"It's something really special – I think it still needs some time to sink in. I've actually never been on the podium of a World Tour race except for team classifications so that was one of my main goals before stopping my career," the South African said.

"The last few days in the mountain finishes I was just not quite fast enough to keep up with the GC guys. Then, if I don't get a result that way, the best is to go in the breakaway. It worked out perfectly today. I was quite lucky – my team controlled it quite well and I tried once and picked the right breakaway so that was good teamwork."

STAGE RESULT

1. Louis Meintjes (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) 4:32:39
2. Samuele Battistella (Astana Qazaqstan Team) +1:01
3. Edoardo Zambanini (Bahrain Victorious) +1:14
4. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) +1:34
5. Filippo Conca (Lotto Soudal) +1:58

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 34:02:32
2. Enric Mas (Movistar) +1:12
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +1:53

Points Classification

1. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 147
2. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 142
3. Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) 81

King of the Mountains

1. Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 40
2. Robert Stannard (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 21
3. Jimmy Janssens (Alpecin-Deceuninck) 17

Defending champion Primoz Roglic roared to the top of the Vuelta a Espana standings with a first stage win of this year's competition on day four in the Basque Country.

With the race resuming on Tuesday after a break to transfer from the Netherlands, the Slovenian moved up from third to take the red jersey with victory from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Laguardia.

Despite no other team members making the top 10 for the day, Roglic was ably supported by his fellow Team Jumbo–Visma riders, who helped him command the final uphill sprint to take victory.

After back-to-back stage wins for Ireland's Sam Bennett, it means Roglic has now reinforced his title defence, dethroning team-mate Edoardo Affini at the top.

Roglic edged Mads Pedersen, whose strong Vuelta continues apace with his third consecutive second-place finish, moving him up to ninth in the General Classification and second in points.

The former's team-mate Sepp Kuss lies second, 13 seconds off the overall lead, though the rest of their fellow Jumbo-Visma riders have slipped down the ranks ahead of Wednesday's leg from Irun to Bilbao.

Roglic happy to build early advantage

For the first time this year, Roglic has built a double-digit lead, and says he is happy to take the early advantage.

"It's really just the beginning of La Vuelta but it's always better to be 10 seconds ahead rather than behind," he stated.

"It was already a hard pace the whole day, with a super fast and hard stage. The finale was an opportunity to fight for the stage win. I had the legs so I gave it a go."

STAGE RESULT

1. Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) 3:31:05
2. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) same time
3. Enric Mas (Movistar Team) same time
4. Quentin Pacher (Groupama-FDJ) same time
5. Pavel Sivakov (INEOS Grenadiers) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 11:50:59
2. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) +13 seconds
3. Ethan Hayter (INEOS Grenadiers) +26 seconds

Points Classification

1. Sam Bennett (BORA-Hansgrohe) 127
2. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 118
3. Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) 34

King of the Mountains

1. Joan Bou (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 5
2. Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) 3
3. Julius van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost) 3

Sam Bennett made it back-to-back stage wins to cement his place as a dark horse outsider on Sunday at the Vuelta a Espana.

The 31-year-old Irishman claimed victory on Saturday amid a mass sprint in Utrecht, and backed up his points classification credentials with a second Grand Tour stage in as many days in Breda.

As the Vuelta packs up to make the transfer to Spain following its start in the Netherlands, it means Bennett – left out of the Tour de France for a second successive year – leads the points standings.

With such a strong performance to date, the BORA-hansgrohe rider is not ruling out a sustained push for the green jersey, but Bennett acknowledges the riders have barely scratched the surface of this year's race.

"There is a long way to go [and] anything can happen," Bennett said, quoted by Cycling News. "But we want the sprint jersey and we will start to commit more to look at points.

"We have two stages now, so we can make bigger decisions on when to take points and when to leave them. Hopefully we can compete for the green – that would be really nice."

Mads Pedersen nabbed second for the second day in a row, while Briton Dan McLay improved his day-by-day performance from sixth to third.

The race will resume on Tuesday, starting from Vitoria-Gasteiz in the Basque Country, with Edoardo Affini leading a top-six lockout for Jumbo-Visma in the general classification standings.

Affini is tied on the clock with three-time reigning champion Primoz Roglic, plus Sam Oomen, Sepp Kuss, Mike Teunissen and Robert Gesink.

STAGE RESULT

1. Sam Bennett (BORA-Hansgrohe) 4:05:53
2. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) same time
3. Dan McLay (Arkea-Samsic) same time
4. Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) same time
5. Fabian Lienhard (Groupama-FDJ) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification

1. Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) 8:20:07
2. Sam Oomen (Jumbo-Visma) same time
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) same time

Points Classification

1. Sam Bennett (BORA-hansgrohe) 117
2. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 80
3. Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) 34

King of the Mountains

1. Julius van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost) 3
2. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) 2
3. Thibault Guernalec (Arkea-Samsic) 1

Sam Bennett claimed his first Grand Tour stage win in two years as he held off a mass sprint to take victory on Saturday at the Vuelta a Espana.

In the second of three stages held in the Netherlands, the Irishman justified his selection for BORA-Hansgrohe by refinding his form in Utrecht.

Bennett has endured a difficult season, having been left out of the Tour de France for a second straight year, but capitalised on the lead-out qualities of team-mates Ryan Mullen and Danny van Poppel.

"Danny brought me up with speed, then he was kind of ready for me to jump, but I waited a second, and I didn't know if I'd let my speed drop too much, and I was nervous I wouldn't get on top of the speed again," Bennett said.

"Danny didn't deliver me; he launched me. It was down to the boys today.

"It's nice. I knew I'd do it again, it was just a matter of getting the right legs. What I'm really happy about is continuing my pattern of winning at least one stage in every Grand Tour I've done since 2018."

Mads Pederson came in second, having been unable to sustain an early attack, with Tim Merlier finishing third.

Jumbo-Visma dominate the general classification standings, with Mike Teunissen, who crossed in fourth place, taking the leader's jersey from team-mate Robert Gesink.

Three-time reigning champion Primoz Roglic shares that lead.

More Vuelta joy for Bennett 

Bennett has now won nine stages in GTs, with four of those coming at La Vuelta. That makes the race his favourite of the big three, with the 31-year-old having won three at the Giro d'Italia and two at the Tour de France.

STAGE RESULT 

1. Sam Bennett (BORA-Hansgrohe) 3:49:34
2. Mads Pederson (Trek-Segafredo) same time
3. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Deceuninck) same time
4. Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma) same time
5. Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification

1. Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma) 4:14:14
2. Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) same time
3. Sam Oomen (Jumbo-Visma) same time

Points Classification

1. Sam Bennett (BORA-Hansgrohe) 50
2. Mads Pederson (Trek-Segafredo) 50
3. Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) 26

King of the Mountains

1. Julius van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost) 2
2. Thibault Guernalec (Arkea-Samsic) 1

Robert Gesink took the red jersey on home soil after Jumbo-Visma dominated the opening stage of the Vuelta a Espana in Utrecht on Friday.

It was a day to remember for the Dutch team as they hit the ground running in the team time-trial.

Jumbo-Visma covered the 23.3-kilometre route in 24 minutes and 40 seconds, with Gesink first across the line to ensure he will don La Roja for stage two from 's-Hertogenbosch back to Utrecht on Saturday.

Ineos Grenadiers were 13 seconds back in second place, with Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl third at the start of the last Grand Tour of the year.

Jumbo-Visma's fit-again defending champion Primoz Roglic could not have asked for a much better start to his bid to become the first rider to win the Vuelta in four successive years.

Team BikeExchange-Jayco were fourth, with Chris Froome's Israel Premier Tech down in 16th.

 

Roglic confident after 'perfect' start

Slovenian Roglic abandoned the Tour de France last month, having soldiered on despite suffering a dislocated shoulder and a back injury when he crashed on stage five.

Having been passed fit for a shot at history in a race he has dominated, the 32-year-old was delighted with the start his team made.

He said: "It's a great feeling. I think it's well deserved. It was really nice to be out today with huge crowds and with my guys. Everyone did a perfect job, so we were enjoying.

"My condition is good enough to win today. I'm super happy about it. It was a pleasure today, the guys did a really great job. Twenty days more to come."

On Gesink being in red, Roglic said: "He's the one that deserves it the most, it's a pleasure racing for so many years with him. I started with him in the team, he taught me a lot and it's nice to win as the home team with a home rider."

 

STAGE RESULT (TEAM)

1. Jumbo-Visma 24:40
2. Ineos Grenadiers 24:53
3. Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl 24:54
4. Team BikeExchange-Jayco 25:11
5. UAE Team Emirates 25:13


CLASSIFICATION FINAL STANDINGS 

General Classification

1. Robert Gesink (Jumbo-Visma) 24:40
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) same time
3. Chris Harper (Jumbo-Visma) same time

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