Roglic Wins Stage 17 of Vuelta a Espana on Angliru
Wednesday’s stage 17 of La Vuelta a Espana 2023 delivered a major showdown of this year’s Vuelta in a concentrated 124.4-kilometer mountain effort. The riders in the Vuelta peloton had anxiously been looking forward to the stage, which was expected to have a decisive influence on the general classification of this year’s La Vuelta.
The stage began in Ribadesella Ribeseya, featured the Alto de la Colladiella (Category 1; 6.5 km; 8% average incline), the Alto del Cordal (Category 1; 5.7 km; 8.5% average incline), and concluded on the legendary Altu de l’Angliru mountain, which is classified as a Hors Categorie climb (Outside category) because of its grueling incline percentages of no less than 17.3 percent.
American Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) was leading the general classification before today’s stage. Today was Kuss’ birthday, so it would be interesting to see if he could take the victory on Angliru on his birthday and thereby defend his lead in La Vuelta.
HOW THE STAGE UNFOLDED
Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep) held back and recovered in yesterday’s stage, so it did not take long before he launched an attack to break away from the main peloton. He was joined by other riders in a small group that set out to gain a significant lead on the false-flat that led the riders to the climbs of today’s stage 17.
While Evenepoel was in front with other riders, Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) courageously attacked solo from the main peloton on the very first climb of the day – the Alto de la Colladiella – to challenge the dominance of the Jumbo-Visma team in the general classification.
Evenepoel was first on the Alto de la Colladiella and he was joined by teammate Mattia Cattaneo. Lorenzo Germani (Groupama-FDJ) was chasing 15 seconds behind, while a trio featuring Edward Theuns (Lidl-Trek), Andreas Kron (Lotto-Dstny), and Eduardo Sepulveda (Lotto-Dstny) were chasing one minute behind the leading Belgian.
Soler was having a very good day in the saddle and was delivering an impressive performance. At the top of the Colladiella he was approximately one minute from the Evenepoel-Cattaneo duo, while the other breakaway participants had been dropped and were closer to being reeled in by the chasing main peloton headed by the ever-dominant Jumbo-Visma team.
Soler is a skilled descender, so he gained additional time on the Evenepoel-Cattaneo duo on the descent that followed.
On the long and relatively flat section that followed and led the riders to the next climb, Soler was joined by Germani and Sepulveda and despite working hard, the trio lost valuable time. With thirty kilometers left of the stage, the Evenepoel-Cattaneo duo was still leading the way, the Soler trio was 01:37 minutes behind, while the Jumbo-Visma led main peloton was 02:25 minutes behind.
Cattaneo had done most of the work for Evenepoel on the flat section and he got dropped when they reached the Alto del Cordal (Category 1; 5.7 km; 8.5% average incline). Evenepoel thanked his teammate and continued solo on the climb. He was eager to take the stage victory today.
25 kilometers from the finish and four kilometers from the top of Alto del Cordal, Evenepoel had increased his lead over the Soler group to two minutes. The main peloton – led by Dylan van Baarle - was three minutes behind the Belgian powerhouse.
Bahrain-Victorious took over the lead in the main peloton to set a fast pace they hoped would wear down their Jumbo-Visma enemies.
Evenepoel was first to reach the top of Alto del Cordal. He thereby gained valuable points for the Best Climber Classification – a classification he was proudly leading by wearing the blue-dotted mountain jersey.
Evenepoel appeared nervous on the descent. The roads were somewhat wet and dirty, and he was taking no chances. Was something wrong with his balance on the bike? Was he afraid of crashing? He had been known to fear descends when in wet conditions.
When Evenepoel reached the most challenging climb of the day, his lead was down to approximately 01:30 minutes. It suddenly appeared he was all out of energy and would soon get caught by the chasing peloton.
Soler also ran out of steam and was caught by the peloton on the Altu de L’Angliru.
Van Eetvelt attacked for his Lotto-Dstny team but was unable to gain a significant advantage over the chasing peloton headed by Damiano Caruso and the rest of Bahrain-Victorious.
Romain Bardet attacked briefly with 5.8 kilometers left, but he was caught and did not satisfy the hopes of his Team DSM management. Bardet tried again.
Evenepoel got caught by the peloton. What a disappointment for the Belgian and his Soudal-QuickStep team.
The main peloton had been reduced to a main favorites group of approximately ten men.
With 4.6 kilometers left, only three Jumbo-Visma riders and three Bahrain-Victorious riders remained in the group: Mikel Landa, Wout Poels, Santiago Buitrago, Primoz Roglic, Sepp Kuss, and Jonas Vingegaard.
Buitrago got dropped with four kilometers left.
Roglic attacked three kilometers from the finish line. Was this going to be his day for podium pleasure?
Roglic was caught by his two teammates Vingegaard and Kuss with two kilometers left of the Angliru climb and today’s stage.
Vingegaard and Roglic left their American birthday boy and Vuelta race leader Kuss behind on the climb – it was their birthday gift to their colleague who had helped them so many times in other Grand Tours. Vingegaard and Roglic wanted all the glory for themselves.
Roglic was first across the finish line, closely tailed by Vingegaard. Kuss finished nineteen seconds later and remains general classification leader after today’s stage 17.
Kuss’ general classification lead is now significantly reduced, but the Jumbo-Visma team still dominates the top 3 in powerful fashion. Denmark’s Vingegaard is eight seconds behind the American. Roglic is third, 01:08 minutes behind Kuss. Juan Ayuso is fourth for UAE Team Emirates, four minutes behind the leader, while Bahrain-Victorious’ Mikel Landa is fifth.
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