Vuelta Stage Report: Another crazy day on the Vuelta a España saw the victory go to Jumbo-Visma’s Sepp Kuss. On the mountain stage 15 to Santuario del Acebo, the American climber was the best from the ‘Break of the Day’. Behind; the favourites tested each other again and Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) followed an attack by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) to extended his lead over the rest of the top men.
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Big win for Kuss
Stage 15 Route with Joaquim Rodríguez – Tineo > Santuario del Acebo 154,4 km:
Four mountain passes on the menu: three 1st category and one second category climbs. There will be an initial climb up to the Acebo, without reaching the top, followed by a visit to the two most famous mountain passes in western Asturias: Puerto del Conio and Puerto del Pozo de las Mujeres Muertas. The final stretch itself is a very demanding climb that has not featured in the race before, nor even in the Vuelta a Asturias, which often passes through this mountain pass.
Stage 15 started without Luka Mezgec (pelvic fracture) and Patrick Bevin (preparation for the World champs). After several attack attempts, Sander Armée, Casper Pedersen, Mark Padun, Vasil Kiryienka and Jésus Ezquerra finally got a gap. Astana and Movistar were also very active, but did not get anyone in the escape. Movistar took the initiative in the peloton at the foot of the first climb, the Puerto del Acebo.
Tadej Pogačar didn’t seem bothered by his crash on stage 14
Movistar had a plan for today
The five leaders never got more than 2 minutes lead. Early on the climb; Movistar pawn Marc Soler put in a big jump and crossed to the leaders. Soler brought Padun, Armée, Kiryienka, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Ruben Guerreiro with him. Jumbo-Visma struggled to keep control. The Dutch team responded by sending Sepp Kuss up to cover the break. Together with Ion Izagirre, Óscar Rodriguez and Sergio Samitier, Kuss joined the leaders.
The break were not allowed too much of an advantage
Jumbo-Visma, mostly Tony Martin, led the peloton behind the break
Jumbo-Visma led the peloton
In the first valley, Jumbo-Visma took hold of the pace in the peloton. The 17 leaders had 3 minutes and held onto it at the start of the Puerto del Connio. The lead even went up to the 4 minutes.
Soler was up front again for Movistar
On the penultimate climb of the Puerto del Pozo de las Mujeres Muertas, the leading group split apart. Sergio Samitier attacked and was joined by Daniel Navarro and Ben O’Connor. They took 1:30 on the others in the leading group. Jumbo-Visma led the peloton over the top of the Col. Astana and Movistar followed and watched.
On the run-up to the final climb, some skirmishes took place at the front. Samitier and Kiryienka started with 40 seconds on the pursuers on the climb to Santuario del Acebo. The peloton followed at more than 4 minutes.
The World champion and 2nd overall, Alejandro Valverde, was keeping a close watch on the overall leader, Primoz Roglic
At the front, Sepp Kuss seized his chance to go for the stage win. The American took the lead on the steep ramps of the Acebo, after catching and passing Samitier. His biggest danger came from Guerreiro and Geoghegan Hart, but Kuss extended the lead from 25 to 40 seconds. The Jumbo-Visma climber was never in danger in the final kilometre and had time to celebrate with hand-slaps with the fans. The second place went to Guerreiro, ahead of Geoghegan Hart, with Óscar Rodriguez in fourth.
Another hard day in la Vuelta
Roglic and Valverde attack
In the group of favourites, Astana and Movistar take the initiative on the final climb. Alejandro Valverde was the first to put in an attack, but was immediately followed by Primoz Roglic. The World champion had the red jersey on his wheel. Roglic saw his chance and helped Valverde to put time into Nairo Quintana, Miguel Ángel López and Tadej Pogacar.
Not a good day for Quintana
Quintana couldn’t hold on to a group with López and Pogacar 4 kilometres from the finish. The group had lost 30 seconds on the Valverde-Roglic tandem, which also received help from Soler. Pogacar and López tried to get away from Rafal Majka in the finalé, but they were already 45 seconds behind Roglic and Valverde.
Looks like Primoz Roglic now only has Alejandro Valverde to worry about at 2:25
Sepp Kuss was up front to help team leader Roglic, but there was no need
After today’s stage, Valverde remains at 2:25 from the Slovenian overall leader. Pogacar and López lost almost 40 seconds and so they are now at 3:42 and 3:59 respectively from Roglic. For Quintana the damage was even greater, his overall situation is now more than 5 minutes down on the red jersey.
A well fought for win
Hand-slaps for the fans
Stage winner, Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma): “It’s pretty big I guess. Obviously it hasn’t quite sunk in but it’s an incredible day. We knew Astana and Movistar would try to put some guys in the break. When I saw Soler and Izagirre go, I followed because they are strong riders that could help for some tactical play later. When the gap went out, it was enough to go for the stage win. I knew the first kilometres of the climb were the hardest so I tried to be in a good position from the bottom. I felt really good and I wanted to ride my own rhythm, not play mind games. As a team, we’ve shown we have the numbers when it’s a selected group. We’re always where we need to be. And we have the strongest rider, that’s what’s the most important! I think the passion of the fans is what makes La Vuelta so special. They’re enthusiastic in your good days and also when you have a bad day, giving you pushes up the climbs when you’re 30 minutes behind. The fans are really special and that’s what makes cycling such an incredible sport.”
Vuelta a España Stage 15 Result:
1. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma in 4:19:04
2. Ruben Guerreiro (Por) Katusha-Alpecin at 0:39
3. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) Ineos at 0:40
4. Óscar Rodríguez (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias at 0:53
5. Mark Padun (Ukr) Bahrain-Merida at 1:49
6. Ben O’Connor (Aus) Dimension Data at 2:05
7. Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First at 2:11
8. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma at 2:14
9. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
10. Sander Armée (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 2:48
11. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana at 2:55
12. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
13. Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar at 3:03
14. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe at 3:13
15. Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana at 3:29
16. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb at 3:50
17. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
18. Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain-Merida
19. Sergio Andres Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Education First
20. Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis at 4:04
21. James Knox (GB) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 4:10
22. Kilian Frankiny (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
23. Quentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 4:23
24. Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) Lotto Soudal at 4:25
25. Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Katusha-Alpecin.
Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 15:
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma in 58:10:32
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 2:25
3. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates at 3:42
4. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana at 3:59
5. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 5:09
6. Rafał Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe at 7:14
7. Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis at 9:08
8. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb at 9:15
9. Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) Lotto Soudal at 9:44
10. Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain-Merida at 11:39
11. Sergio Andres Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Education First at 13:28
12. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott at 14:58
13. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida at 15:14
14. Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana at 16:06
15. Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar at 16:16
16. Ruben Guerreiro (Por) Katusha-Alpecin at 16:32
17. James Knox (GB) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 18:42
18. Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott at 18:51
19. Kilian Frankiny (Swi) Groupama-FDJ at 22:37
20. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 22:41
21. George Bennett (NZ) Jumbo-Visma at 36:04
22. Robert Gesink (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 36:12
23. Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-Segafredo at 37:57
24. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma at 38:44
25. François Bidard (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 39:06.