Miguel Angel Lopez took victory on the gruelling slopes of the Altu d’El Gamoniteiru (14.6km with an average gradient of 9.8%) on Thursday. The Colombian attacked inside the last 4km of the queen stage of La Vuelta 21, featuring 4,500m of elevation, to claim the solo win ahead of Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and his Movistar Team companion Enric Mas.
Lopez takes his third stage win in the Spanish Grand Tour, four years after the previous two. In 2020, he had already dominated a similar ascent, Col de la Loze, in the Tour de France.
After a crazy day towards the iconic Lagos de Covadonga, the peloton of La Vuelta 21 discover a new monster. The stage features 4,500m of elevation, with classics such as the Puertu de San Llaurienzu, La Cobertoria and El Cordal before an unprecedented summit finish at Altu d’El Gamoniteiru, atop a 14.6km climb with an average gradient of 9.8%.
After 10km of battle, a group of 32 attackers make the break of the day, with riders such as Michael Storer (Team DSM), Rafal Majka (UAE Team Emirates) and Rein Taaramäe (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) hunting for another stage win on the roads of La Vuelta 21.
Arensman sets Storer’s move
The gap is up to 3’ after 20km, and 5’ on the first ascent of the day, the cat-1 Puerto de San Llaurienzu (9.9km, 8.6%). Bahrain Victorious drive the bunch. Storer goes first over the top to defend Romain Bardet’s polka dot jersey and maybe eventually power to the lead of the KOM standings.
Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) sets the pace at the front on the second ascent of the day, the cat-1 Altu de la Cobertoria (7.9km, 8.6%). Storer goes solo inside the last 2km of the climb, with 70km to go. Pelayo Sanchez (Burgos-BH) sets off in pursuit but Storer pushes his advantage. On the downhill, he enjoys a lead of 2’ to his first chasers, and 5’30’’ to the peloton.
Storer hangs on
Movistar Team start working at the front of the bunch alongside Bahrain Victorious and the gap is down to 2’30’’ at the bottom of the penultimate climb of the day, the cat-2 Alto del Cordal (8.2km, 5.8%).
UAE Team Emirates and Ineos Grenadiers up the ante on the climb. Romain Bardet and Mikel Bizkarra (Team DSM) briefly go on the move but Storer is alone at the front with a gap of 2’10’’, at the bottom of the mighty Gamoniteiru.
Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R-Citroën Team) attacks 12km away from the summit. Then David De la Cruz (UAE Team Emirates) goes on the move with a bit more than 10km to go while Bahrain Victorious still set the pace in the GC bunch.
De la Cruz catches Storer with 7km to go. Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux up the pace to bring the gap down to 35’’ when De la Cruz goes solo (5.5km to go). Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) attacks with 5km to go. And Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar Team) counter-attacks inside the last 4km.
The Colombian quickly catches and drops De la Cruz. He goes solo to the finish to complete his set of summit victories in La Vuelta, after Calar Alto and Sierra Nevada in 2017, 14’’ ahead of Roglic and 20’’ ahead of Enric Mas. – www.lavuelta.es
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 18
|1||PRIMOŽ ROGLIČ||1||JUMBO – VISMA||73H 24′ 25”||–||B : 40”||–|
|2||ENRIC MAS||171||MOVISTAR TEAM||73H 26′ 55”||+ 00H 02′ 30”||B : 14”||–|
|3||MIGUEL ANGEL LOPEZ||174||MOVISTAR TEAM||73H 27′ 18”||+ 00H 02′ 53”||B : 18”||–|
|4||JACK HAIG||44||BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS||73H 29′ 01”||+ 00H 04′ 36”||–||–|
|5||EGAN ARLEY BERNAL||131||INEOS GRENADIERS||73H 29′ 08”||+ 00H 04′ 43”||B : 3”||–|
|6||ADAM YATES||138||INEOS GRENADIERS||73H 30′ 09”||+ 00H 05′ 44”||–||–|
|7||SEPP KUSS||6||JUMBO – VISMA||73H 30′ 27”||+ 00H 06′ 02”||B : 6”||–|
|8||GINO MÄDER||45||BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS||73H 32′ 13”||+ 00H 07′ 48”||–||–|
|9||GUILLAUME MARTIN||81||COFIDIS||73H 32′ 56”||+ 00H 08′ 31”||–||–|
|10||LOUIS MEINTJES||141||INTERMARCHE – WANTY – GOBERT MATERIAUX||73H 33′ 27”||+ 00H 09′ 02”||–||–|