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Lleida - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Jelle Wallays (BEL - Lotto Soudal) - Sven Erik Bystrom (NOR - UAE Team Emirates) pictured during 73rd La Vuelta ciclista a España (2.UWT) Stage 18 from Ejea de los Caballeros to Lleida (186.1 KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

VUELTA’18 Stage 18: Wallays Big Win!

Stage Report: On a stage made for the sprinters; Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal) and Sven Erik Bystrøm (UAE Team Emirates) held off the fast finishers to cross the finish line with millimeters to spare, Wallays taking the honors. World champion, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) brought in the baying pack, hot on the heels of the Wallays/Bystrøm tandem, ahead of Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors). No change on GC.

The biggest win of Wallays’ career

Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal) snatched the win on the line after a long and fast day at the front. The Belgian attacker went from the start with Sven Erik Bystrøm (UAE Team Emirates) and Jetse Bol (Burgos-BH) and only just took the stage win ahead Bystrøm. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) was the next to cross the finish line after a spectacular effort in the final kilometer that so nearly overhauled the front duo. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) keeps the red jersey ahead of two mountainous days in Andorra.

Close… Very close!

Stage 18 from Ejea de los Caballeros to Lleida:
La Vuelta departs from the Aragon municipality of Ejea de los Caballeros for the first time. Its tower, its church-fortress and its walls, the result of a territorial dispute between Muslims and Christians in Medieval times, will send the peloton off towards the Pyrenees. The locality has cycling in its blood and has been organizing the “Educating with Cycling” days for the past three years, that bring together cycling personalities to discuss the best ways in which to transmit this sport’s values. Lleida is one of La Vuelta’s “sprinter territories”. In the past decade, two stages have ended in what is known as the capital of inland Catalonia and two first-class names have added Lleida to their list of achievements: Mark Cavendish, winner of 30 Tour de France stages and Danny Van Poppel, son of the legendary Dutch sprinter, Jean Paul Van Poppel.

Fernando Escartín: “Completely flat stage. Some escapes may take place and it will be up to sprinters and their teams to neutralize them and to position themselves in the lead for the Lleida finish-line. The peloton’s exhaustion and increasing weakness will play an important role.”

Another sunny day in Spain

186.1 mostly flat kilometers were perfect for the sprinters, but their timing was out by a couple of bike lengths. It wasn’t long after the start in Ejea de los Caballeros that the three attackers to jumped away from the bunch. Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), Sven Erik Bystrøm (UAE Team Emirates) and Jetse Bol (Burgos-BH) had 11 seconds of an advantage on the pack after 3 kilometers. The peloton let them go, but sprinters’ teams quickly control of the gap. Elia Viviani’s Quick-Step Floors and Giacomo Nizzolo’s Trek-Segafredo hit the front after 12 kilometers and never let the gap higher than 3:02 despite the very fast pace set on the windy roads Aragonese roads to Catalonia.

Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), Sven Erik Bystrøm (UAE Team Emirates) and Jetse Bol (Burgos-BH) took their chance

The sprinter’s teams left it too late by about a bike length

The break was never allowed too much time

After three hours at 45.2KPH, the attackers only had a lead of 2:15 as the race entered the final 50 kilometers. Peter Sagan’s Bora-Hansgrohe also helped with the pursuit, but the gap stabilized until 25 kilometers to go. The pack then picked up the pace in the last 20 kilometers.

Bol was dropped and Wallays and Bystrøm pushed on to the finish

Wallays should try his hand at poker!

Jetse Bol was dropped by his two companions 7K’s out as the bunch was at 37 seconds and the leading duo kept working together to battle it out in the final kilometer. Jelle Wallays played the waiting game, leaving Bystrøm on the front before jumping at the latest possible moment. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) put in a long effort to take 3rd place right behind Sven Erik Bystrøm and ahead of double Vuelta stage winner Elia Viviani.

A big day for Jelle Wallays

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Vuelta a España Stage 18 Result:
1. Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto Soudal 03:57:03
2. Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
5. Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
6. Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
7. Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
8. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
9. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
10. Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
11. Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
12. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
13. Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
14. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
15. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
16. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
17. Max Walscheid (Ger) Sunweb
18. Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
19. Simon Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott
20. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana
21. Marc Sarreau (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
22. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
23. Nelson Andres Soto Martinez (Col) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
24. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
25. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick-Step Floors.

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 18:
1. Simon Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott in 73:02:37
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:25
3. Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors at 1:22
4. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana at 1:36
5. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 1:48
6. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 2:11
7. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida at 4:09
8. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale at 4:36
9. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 5:31
10. Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 6:05
11. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe at 6:33
12. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb at 9:15
13. David De La Cruz (Spa) Sky at 9:55
14. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe at 10:27
15. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 11:35
16. Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott at 14:40
17. Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 17:31
18. Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 25:06
19. Mikel Bizkarra Etxegibel (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias at 27:45
20. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar at 31:22
21. Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis at 34:40
22. Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe at 34:48
23. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky at 37:44
24. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin at 40:43
25. Benjamin King (USA) Dimension Data at 42:24.

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