Poels beats Evenepoel in the sprint and Kuss ensures to wear the red jersey in Madrid
Jumbo followed the script and Sepp Kuss had a quiet day that served to certify his victory in La Vuelta a España 2023. Evenepoel was called to star in another great stage and although he was part of the breakaway and fought until the final sprint, it was Poels who took the victory.
Poels wins, Kuss breathes and Jumbo leaves a picture for history
The last day of real competition proposed a mid-mountain stage as a final effort before the 78th edition of La Vuelta a España will say goodbye tomorrow. The route: 208 kilometers of mountain climbs to link Manzanares El Real with Guadarrama, with no less than 4361 meters of elevation gain spread over ten passes of the third category.
The first attacks were not long in coming. Evenepoel, Soler, Quinn and Poels decided to show themselves when the peloton was in the middle of the ascent of Collado del Portazgo. A successful move was followed by a descent in which a large group came together to form a breakaway of 31 riders.
The escapees imposed a high pace that allowed them to open a gap of 2 minutes with the peloton. The pedal stroke continued with the same intensity and the lead group steadily widened the gap.
Ascent to the Puerto de La Cruz Verde, crowned by Rui Costa. Descent. Time to rest legs before the asphalt points up again. Four minutes of margin while the Jumbo took on the role of commander of the peloton.
Fourth climb of the day for Van Eetvelt and, with almost no time to regain strength, came the fifth. The breakaway was still intact and maintained the 31 units with which it was born about 100 kilometers ago. Moments of calm to enter the second part of the race and prepare for the second climb to La Escondida.
The race continued unchanged as the frontrunners increased their lead over the peloton to almost six minutes. 72 kilometers to the finish. Second climb to the Alto de Santa María de Alameda.
Ben Zwiehoff stirred up the rest of the escapees with a move that turned out to be sterile after the breakaway's effective response. The knives began to fly as Soler, García Cortina and Tiberi tried to strike a fruitful blow.
60 kilometers and the peloton was already seven minutes behind. Planckaert became the first to drop out of the lead group, although the casualty list grew soon after with the inclusion of several riders unable to react to Soudal's change of pace.
Soudal in the lead before what looked like the preview of Evenepoel's attack, which could come at any moment. The penultimate climb of the day did not serve to select the breakaway, which was still composed of 21 riders. The race had become tougher from the start but the legs were holding up without showing any signs of weakness. Alto de San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Last pass of the third stage.
Cattaneo went to the front and the first problems began to appear for some of the escapees. However, it was Poels who did the real damage on the hardest part of the climb. Soler and Van Eetvelt responded. Poels again.
Poels, Soler, Pelayo Sánchez and Van Eetvelt. Evenepoel suffered and was just a few meters behind, which showed that the Belgian would not repeat the feat. Even so, he was able to close the gap and joined them. Behind, Rui Costa took over the leadership of a sextet whose mission was to eat up the 10 seconds that separated them from the lead.
The front five entered Guadarrama to duel. Poels' move showed the Dutchman's good form. The rest of the group was already somewhat depleted, and tried unsuccessfully to fight back. Evenepoel found some watts that helped him to close the gap, get out of the slipstream and get in parallel, although the effort was insufficient to snatch the victory from Poels. Also noteworthy was the great third position of Pelayo Sanchez.
For their part, the three most familiar faces of Jumbo pedaled calmly, without mishaps or last-minute script twists. They headed into the finishing straight and kept their distance with those in front of them to sign a triumphant finish and leave a photo to remember: Kuss escorted by Vingegaard and Roglic.
Stage 20 Classification
- Wout Poels (Bahrain-Victorious) 4:59'29"
- Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-Quick Step) +0"
- Pelayo Sánchez (Burgos-BH) +0"
- Lennert Van Eetvelt (Lotto Dstny) +0"
- Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) +4"
- Rui Costa (Intermaché-Circus-Wanty) +26"
- Antonio Tiberi (Bahrain-Victorious) +26"
- Lennard Kamna (BORA-hansgrohe) +26"
- Romain Bardet (Team DSM-firmenich) +26"
- Einer Augusto Rubio (Movistar Team) +26"
- Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) +74h23’42’’
- Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +17’’
- Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +1’08’’
- Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) +3'44’’
- Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) +4’03’’
- Enric Mas (Movistar Team) +4’14’’
- Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) +8’19’’
- Cian Uijtdebroeks (Bora-Hansgrohe) +8’26’’
- Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) +10’08’’
- Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain-Victorious) +12’04’’