Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education Nippo) took his third stage win of La Vuelta 21 on Friday, after a 191.5km battle from Tapia to Monforte de Lemos. The Dane made the early breakaway over the first climbs of the day.

The gap never went higher than 2’45’’ but Cort Nielsen was still in a position to outsprint his last companions at the end of stage 19, only 18’’ ahead of the raging bunch. The race is in Galicia and Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) collected his 50th Grand Tour leader jersey only two days ahead of the finish in Santiago de Compostela.

The peloton of La Vuelta 21 have overcome the biggest mountains of this edition and are now facing another type of challenge with 191.2 hilly km from Tapia to Monforte de Lemos. The stage features more than 3,200m of elevation with early climbs leading to a big battle for the breakaway.

18 riders at the front

Mikael Cherel (AG2R-Citroën Team), Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH), Aritz Bagües (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Nico Denz (Team DSM) are the first attackers of the day. Antonio Jesus Soto (Euskaltel Euskadi), Mark Padun (Bahrain Victorious) and Damien Touzé (AG2R-Citroën Team) join them at km 5. And 17 more riders, including Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education Nippo), bridge the gap just ahead of the first climb (km 12).

The pace is relentless with many more attacks on the first two climbs of the day, the cat-3 Alto de Sela and the cat-2 Alto da Garganta. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick Step), wearing the green jersey, is among the riders dropped with the hard pace set on these ascents.

The situation eventually settles on the third climb of the day, with 18 riders at the front: Mikaël Cherel, Damien Touzé (AG2R-Citroën Team), Jay Vine (Alpecin-Fenix), Mark Padun (Bahrain Victorious), Pelayo Sanchez (Burgos-BH), Julen Amezqueta (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Lawson Craddock, Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education-Nippo), Antonio Jesus Soto (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Anthony Roux (Groupama-FDJ), Andreas Kron (Lotto Soudal), Robert Stannard (Team BikeExchange), Nico Denz (Team DSM), Fabio Aru (Team Qhubeka NextHash), Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo), Jan Polanc, Rui Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates).

An incrdibly tight finale

Alberto Dainese’s Team DSM pull the bunch and the gap never gets higher than 2’45’’ as the race enters the last 100km. With the bunch closing in on them, the early attackers accelerate again inside the last 65km and the breakaway is torn in pieces. A crash in the bunch with 43km to go leads to the abandon of Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert-Matériaux). Team BikeExchange take the helm of the peloton for Michael Matthews.

At the front, Simmons and Oliveira drop their companions with 34km to go. But they’re joined by Bagioli, Craddock, Cort Nielsen, Roux and Kron 8km later. The peloton trail by 28’’. And the gap is still up to 30’’ with 7.5km to go, and 20’’ into the last kilometre.

Simmons opens up the sprint but Cort Nielsen edges the young American and Bagioli on the line. Only 18’’ behind, Dainese is the fastest rider in the bunch but can’t take the win. –

1 PRIMOŽ ROGLIČ 1 JUMBO – VISMA 77H 49′ 37” B : 40”
2 ENRIC MAS 171 MOVISTAR TEAM 77H 52′ 07” + 00H 02′ 30” B : 14”
3 MIGUEL ANGEL LOPEZ 174 MOVISTAR TEAM 77H 52′ 30” + 00H 02′ 53” B : 18”
4 JACK HAIG 44 BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS 77H 54′ 13” + 00H 04′ 36”
5 EGAN ARLEY BERNAL 131 INEOS GRENADIERS 77H 54′ 20” + 00H 04′ 43” B : 3”
6 ADAM YATES 138 INEOS GRENADIERS 77H 55′ 21” + 00H 05′ 44”
7 SEPP KUSS 6 JUMBO – VISMA 77H 55′ 39” + 00H 06′ 02” B : 6”
8 GINO MÄDER 45 BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS 77H 57′ 25” + 00H 07′ 48”
9 GUILLAUME MARTIN 81 COFIDIS 77H 58′ 08” + 00H 08′ 31”
10 DAVID DE LA CRUZ 221 UAE TEAM EMIRATES 77H 59′ 01” + 00H 09′ 24” B : 1”

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