Remco Evenepoel fought back in stunning style to claim Stage 14 of La Vuelta a Espanā, only 24 hours after one of the toughest days of his career.
After a performance yesterday on Stage 13 that left observers perplexed, the young Belgian reset himself overnight, led a breakaway with Romain Bardet (dsm-firmenich), then surged clear with a few kilometers to go.
Evenepoel was emotional upon crossing the line after delivering a gutsy performance that he will hope has demonstrated to his critics that Stage 13 was an isolated blip.
Cycling’s prodigal son returns
Today was about one man.
At the beginning of the day, the inquest was still continuing into just how Evenepoel struggled so badly on Stage 13.
The Belgian continually attacked aggressively in the early stages, evident by an average speed of 51.6 km/h in the opening 30 minutes.
He soon found himself in a lead duo with Romain Bardet. Shortly after the Col Hourcère, Evenepoel surged away to take maximum points in the race for KOM.
The highlight of the race came with 5 km to go as the breakaway duo entered Basque country close to the Spain-France border.
Hundreds of fans packed the roadside and the noise was deafening as both riders were willed up to the summit finish.
It was a marvelous sight to behold and it was cycling at its best. Evenepoel was back at the front of a stage, delivering a performance barely imaginable only 24 hours after one of the lowest points of his career.
As the race neared its end with 2 km to go, Remco delivered a deadly kick that left Bardet unable to cling on.
Arms aloft and in sheer disbelief, Evenepoel couldn’t hold back the tears as he crossed the line in an emotional comeback.
There was no doubt that cycling’s prodigal son was back, proving his ability with a display impossible to forget.
“Yesterday was a very difficult day”
Shortly before the podium ceremony, Evenepoel responded to questions about yesterday’s performance.
“Yesterday was a very difficult day, also the evening. I couldn’t sleep too much. I had a very bad night and a lot of negative thoughts in my head.
“Today I woke up and I thought to myself, just go for it and make the best of it,” he said. “Today I was full gas, I was feeling pretty good, and always in the mix with some moves.
“There was an attack of Juan Pedro Lopez, I just countered and was alone with Romain [Bardet] in the front. We made the gap bigger on the descent.”
“It’s just super nice to take a second stage win!”
Jumbo-Visma retain iron grip on la vuelta
After an extraordinary performance yesterday, Jumbo-Visma continued to look formidable here on Stage 14.
Safe in the knowledge they’d all but eliminated Evenepoel as their nearest GC rival, they remained in control of the main peloton, undeterred by frequent aggressive breakaways.
Even as Evenepoel and Bardet stretched their lead to over eight minutes up ahead, Jumbo-Visma seemed happy to allow others to expend energy whilst managing risks well.
Sepp Kuss rode excellently again and picked up an 8th-place finish, with Vingegaard in 12th and Roglič in 15th.
Kuss retains the red jersey, with a lead of 1 minute and 37 seconds over Roglič who sits second in the GC rankings, and Vingegaard in third (+ 1:44).
Remco Evenepoel takes the polka-dot jersey from Vingeegard.
Vuelta a España 2023: Stage 14 Results
- EVENEPOEL Remco (Soudal-QuickStep) 4:13:38
- BARDET Romain (dsm-firmenich) +1:12
- VAN EETVELT Lennert (Lotto Dstny) + 6:33
- CASTROVIEJO Jonathan (INEOS Grenadiers) + 6:35
- STORER Michael (Groupama-FDJ) + 7:24
- DE LA CRUZ David(Astana Qazaqstan) + 8:21
- VLASOV Aleksandr (BORA-hansgrohe) +8:22
- KUSS Sepp (Jumbo-Visma) + Same time
- POELS Wout (Bahrain Victorious) + Same time
- AYUSO Juan (UAE Team Emirates) + Same time
Vuelta a España 2023: General Classification Standings after Stage 14
- KUSS Sepp (Jumbo-Visma) 51:04:54
- ROGLIČ Primož (Jumbo-Visma) + 1:37
- VINGEGAARD Jonas (Jumbo-Visma) +1:44
- AYUSO Juan (UAE Team Emirates) + 2:37
- MAS Enric (Movistar Team) + 3:06
- Soler Marc (UAE Team Emirates) + 3:10
- LANDA Mikel (Bahrain Victorious) + 4:12
- VLASOV Aleksandr (BORA-hansgrohe) + 5:02
- UIJTDEBROEKS Cian (BORA-hansgrohe) + 5:30
- ALMEIDA João (UAE Team Emirates) + 8:39
Vuelta a España Jerseys after Stage 13
Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma)
Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck)
Remco Evenepoel (Soudal – QuickStep)
Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates)