Amazing performance by Remco Evenepoel to win the 14th stage of La Vuelta
Just one day after his dramatic collapse, which meant losing more than 27 minutes and any chance of retaining the red jersey won in the last edition, Remco Evenepoel gave us a fantastic stage with equal parts rage and class, proving that yesterday was just that bad day that almost all riders have in a Grand Tour.
Remco completes the day's breakaway, Jumbo-Visma one stage closer to victory
The second Pyrenean stage, which linked the French town of Sauveterre de Béarn and the Belagua pass, or in other words, the Spanish side of the famous Piedra de San Martín, promised a new battle between the favorites. However, the protagonist was a former favorite Remco Evenepoel who, like a wounded lion after yesterday's faintness, was looking to vindicate himself in a great mountain stage.
A great stage that started with 40 kilometers apparently flat but through the mousy roads of the Basque-French country but in which the peloton did not allow the predictable breakaway of the day to form, it would have to wait for the first of the passes, the Col d'Hourcère, known by most cyclists as Issarbe, one of the 6 French slopes that ascend the massif of the Piedra de Saint Martin, for a tremendously select group to form with names like Jonathan Castroviejo, Mattia Cattaneo, Damiano Caruso, Juanpe Lopez, Lennard Kamna, Michel Storer and a tremendous Remco Evenepoel who was trying practically from the start flag.
In the last kilometers the Belgian decided not to speculate and launched a hard attack that allowed him to crown alone with a tireless Romain Bardet trying to join in, something he would achieve in the very fast descent down the face of the Soudet.
After this demanding appetizer, it was the turn of the mythical Larrau, despite the very few times it has been climbed in competition. A tremendous col in which Remco put an intense march that allowed him to gain more advantage over the rest of the breakaway group that exploded into a thousand pieces with the very hard ramps, constantly above 10%, of Larrau. Only Michael Storer was trying to make his way and chase the two leaders.
Meanwhile, behind controlled the race from Issarbe UAE Team Emirates with an intense pace that was decimating the main group until, halfway up the climb, Juan Ayuso tried to attack, but got a quick response from the Jumbo-Visma riders. The Alicante rider still made a second attempt, but with identical results. Those were all the movements that we would see from here to the finish line among the favorites, clearly conditioned by the overwhelming dominance that the Dutch team is showing.
In front, a powerful Remco continued to lead the breakaway, with a very high pace that was increasing the gap to the peloton while continuing to add points to the mountain classification, his new goal after the disaster in the general classification. The Frenchman and the Belgian arrived at the Rincón de Belagua, at the head of the Roncal Valley, where the climb of the Piedra de San Martín in Navarre started.
Remco kept the pace high and, without any movement, they passed the initial part, the hardest part of the climb. When everything indicated that the outcome would be a sprint between the two, 4 kilometers from the top, Evenepoel's pace took its toll and Bardet was in a slump, giving up several hundred meters which left the stage on a platter to the Belgian champion, who arrived at the finish line tremendously excited after seeing himself competitive again after losing the overall yesterday.
With no movement in the group of favorites beyond a timid attack by David de la Cruz, they crossed the finish line 8 minutes and 21 seconds after the Soudal-QuickStep rider.
Stage 14 Classification
- Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep) 4h13’38’’
- Romain Bardet (DSM-Firmenich) +1’12’’
- Lennert Van Eetvelt (Lotto-Dstny) +6’33’’
- Jonathan Castroviejo (INEOS-Grenadiers) +6’35’’
- Michael Storer (Groupama-FDJ) +7’24’’
- David de la Cruz (Astana) +8’21’’
- Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) +8’22’’
- Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) +8’22’’
- Wout Poels (Bahrain-Victorious) +8’22’’
- Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) +8’22’’
- Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) +51h04’54’’
- Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +1’37’’
- Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +1’44’’
- Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) +2’37’’
- Enric Mas (Movistar Team) +3’06’’
- Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) +3’10’’
- Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) +4’12’’
- Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) +5’02’’
- Cian Uijtdebroeks (Bora-Hansgrohe) +5’30’’
- Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) +8’39’’