The Belgian delivered another spectacular ride and gained more time on the race’s fourth uphill finish.
Remco Evenepoel stomped his authority on the Spanish Grand Tour after an imperious ride on the first week’s final stage, which returned to Las Praeres after four years. In red since Pico Jano, Remco rode away from all his rivals just one kilometer into the brutal 3.9km climb which averaged 13.9% and increased his buffer in the general classification ahead of the Alicante individual time trial.
The start of stage 9 was furious, attacks coming from all over the place on the first climb, but the Wolfpack rose to the challenge, moving to the front of the peloton and restoring order. Rémi Cavagna, Dries Devenyns and Fausto Masnada did a fabulous job in the first 120 kilometers of the stage, before Ilan Van Wilder, Louis Vervaeke and Julian Alaphilippe stepped in for the final part, shredding the peloton to pieces.
It was the World Champion who guided Evenepoel onto Las Praeres, sprinting out of the saddle and setting an insane tempo that split the bunch, leaving only a handful of riders in the newly-formed select group. Remco didn’t stay too long there, turning on the afterburners and dropping his opponents one by one on the steep gradients which kicked up to 24%. The leader of La Vuelta pressed on unfazed by the gruelling slopes, catching and passing many of the breakaway riders on his way to another impressive result.
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s 22-year-old became the youngest rider since Miguel Indurain, in 1985, to amass four stages in the leader’s jersey at La Vuelta and will head into the rest day with more than a minute over his nearest rival after his massive show of strength on the Asturian mountainous weekend.
“The team was outstanding again. I am impressed by these incredible riders on our squad, of how they selflessly work for me and how they give their best. They make me emotional and they deserve all the praise for their effort”, Remco said straight after the stage. “I felt that I had the legs to try something on the last climb, so I just did it. I am satisfied with the way things panned out and happy with having the red jersey at the start of next week. I didn’t expect to go into the time trial with this lead, but at the same time I know the Vuelta is far from being over, so we’ll remain motivated and focused.”
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images